Back to Rooiputs
Day 11-Another day of exciting encounters
Time to pack up and move back south. Needless to say I was on puffadder alert, as these snakes have a habit of returning to spots they like, and are territorial. I was too scared to open the tent to head out for the morning wee, but managed successfully not to encounter one of these scary, yet beautiful creatures. I left most of the picking up of things from the ground to Richard while packing up. Feeling slight more confident that maybe the puffies had had a good night in the veld, Richard and I took down the tent, keeping a watchful eye out for snakes and scorpions. All seemed good. We folded the top layer, then it came time to pick up the opposite corners and fold them in. Gingerly I bent down, told myself to put on my big girl panties, stop being ridiculous, and boldly lifted the corner to start the fold. OMF, there again a few centimeters from my hand, curled up like a fat sausage was a bloody puffadder. In a split second I dropped the tent, swore badly and ran…..straight into the low limb of a tree, hitting my head, and then just burst into tears. Of course it was really funny….picture the scene….straight out of a bad comedy, but at that moment, the Adrenalin was doing its thing – my head didn’t really hurt, but I was a mess. The men sprung into snake-catching action, and amongst even me giggling through my fearful tears, heard Rich ask for the braai, I mean, snake tongs. Again, he calmly scoops the snake up in the tings, poses for a photo – we had to get at least one piece of evidence of our snaky 2 days, and releases the animal into the veld. By now I was hyperventilating, so Sally made a sweet mug of tea, and Pete helped Richard with the rest of the packing and getting Klippie back on the bakkie. Digby and Krista worked carefully packing up there tent…luckily no more dodgy visitors in their camp.
Soon we were on the road…today’s mission…for Richard to see a leopard as that would round off our sightings rather nicely. Audiobook playing, eyes peeled on all the trees as we drove, we spotted the usual suspects…gemsbok, wildebeest, Springbok, then a lovely sighting of a kudu bull, and a steenbok ram right next to the road. More than halfway into the drive, Rich was starting to despair….then I spotted something in a large tree…no, not a leopard but a magnificent Verraux’s Eagle-Owl, blinking its pink eyelids and watching us loftily from his perch. Another tick for me.
On we drove, then saw 2 vehicles parked on the opposite side of the road….could it be….we slowed and crept up slowly, and then I saw it….LEOPARD ! Under the tree. Quite difficult to see, but it lay down for a bit, the got up and sniffed at something on the tree trunk for quite a while, moved around the tree and plonked itself down again. We watched it for about 20 minutes and then moved on, happy people.
We arrived at Rooiputs, only to find that our campsite had been double booked…not the first time on this trip, except that the other 3 times, we were already ensconced on the campsite, so the other poor people had to make a plan. This time it was us who had to make a plan. Lots of space, so we set up between 2 campsites and enjoyed the most magnificent Kalahari sunset.
Sally and Pete braaid for us – chicken espetadas, boerewors ( lots of snake jokes at my expense, hee hee), yummy fresh salad, potato salad. Delicious. We debated dessert, then Rich says rather sheepishly that he would like to try the S’Mores he had found….giganormous marshmallows, chocolate discs, Marie biscuits and the sticks. Well, we were messier than most kids trying to eat our S’more sticky sandwiches…the marshmallows are first braaid gently over the coals, then squashed between 2 Marie biscuits with a chocolate disc melting with the hot marshmallow. Much giggling and sticky fingers…Pete declared that these could make a good replacement for Genkem glue.
Team wash up, and now safely in our tents…we have left Klippie on the trusty Toyota as we are only here for 2 nights, and leaving first thing Saturday morning to try to drive home in one go.
Day 12: Last day
Although the alarm went off at 6 am, I was reluctant to crawl out of bed. Eventually we descended from our upstairs bedroom, made a cup of tea in our travel mugs and were planning to fold up the tent to go on a game drive, when Digby and Krista invited us to rather just jump into their car. Off we set, very comfy in the back seat of the De Villiers Toyota Landcruiser VX, I think it is. The Shaws followed in their vehicle, nicknamed Marty. The usual suspects were seen…Gemsbok, Springbok, Doves, Weavers, PcGs, then a call from the Shaws…badger! Great sighting of a very busy badger digging and sniffing, like an hyperactive wind up toy, followed by two PCGs hoping to grab any escapee morsels.
Then we saw the Cheetah mom and her two teenage cups descending the dune into the river bed…slinking in stealth mode and eventually settling under the shade of a tree. Eventually we saw the herd of Springbok she clearly had her eyes on. We landed up watching her for two hours, as the herd of buck slowly, meter by meter, moved closer to her stakeout, calmly grazing and browsing as they went. Then the herd decided to move across the road. By now there were about 15 vehicles watching and waiting to see a cheetah chase. As the herd. Over almost opposite the tree, she slowly stood up, in that incredible cheetah launch phase, chose her prey animal and bolted….down the slope, across the road…all we say was dust and running buck. She had used the vehicles as a form of cover. Unfortunately she did not succeed in catching breakfast, and we found her her about 500 m down the road, exhausted and panting under a tree. Her two cubs sitting up trying to figure out which direction she had run in as the herd split as she bolted towards them.
Back in camp we ate a very late breakfast, moved our vehicles to claim our campsite, and spent the afternoon chatting, reading, editing photos, generally enjoying just being in this special place.
This evening Krista and Digby cooked Chilli con Carne with tacos and poppadums. Perfect end to a wonderful 12 days. As we were enjoying some chocolate, I spied an animal in the gloom…thought it was a jackal, but it was a beautiful Cape Fox trotting through camp.
Tucked up in bed now, mostly packed to hit the road and aiming to leave the Park at 7:30 am to drive home. Hopefully in one go, again via Springbok.
Thanks again, Krista and Digby for the invitation to join you in the Kgalagadi. It has been quite incredible. Wonderful sightings, unbelievable landscapes and fabulous company.