Our second day in the park was a bit of a slow day. We didn’t see any cats or much in the way of large raptors either, but as we were nearing our campsite for the evening at Nossob, we started seeing more and more vultures perched on trees or on nests. We also saw lots of Pale Chanting Goshawks and a few Bateleurs. We arrived at Nossob as dark was setting in and we went with Rob to sit in a hide by the waterhole. Jackals came to drink and a couple of Pearl-spotted Owlets perched in a tree right in front of the hide.
We spent a couple of nights at Nossob before Simon and I drove north where we were to spend one night at Grootkolk while Rob drove south to pick up his cousin Col. Grootkolk consisted of just four small cottages overlooking a waterhole. I woke in the morning to the sound of Kudus alarm calling. I went out to see what was going on to find two lions at the waterhole. So we sat around for a while, drinking hot chocolate on the veranda as the sun rose over the lions. What a way to start the day! To add to the magic, hundreds of doves were coming down to drink alongside the lions until a pair of adult Lanner Falcons tore through.
We were on our way to Mata Mata campsite when we pulled up at a waterhole and found several cars stopped. Lions were holding up the traffic. There were eight lions in total and they took a liking to our car (perhaps they could smell all the other lions that checked out our car during the course of the expedition). Five of them, all staring straight at me, came right up to the window. Simon said “if they make a grab for you, I’ll pull you back.” The lions were looking playful, so I decided to close my window just in case. The lions proceeded to surround the car. One young male started playing with the back tyre and Simon’s reaction was to say “stop it, stop it, naughty thing, stop it.” It was all quite fun until we got back to the campsite gate to find it locked and we got a good ticking off!
Col treated us to a night drive on one of our last evenings in the Kalahari. We were driven in a large open vehicle by our guide John. We stood on a dune to watch the sunset, and then the fun really began. Simon and Col both held spotlights and we all looked for eyes shining back at us. The main things I wanted to see on this drive were Brown Hyenas, Caracals and Cape Foxes. Our first spot of the night was a small cat that may have been a very elusive Black-footed Cat or more likely an African Wild Cat. Then we saw a Cape Fox which I was very excited about. It was nearing the end of our drive and we were on our way back to camp when we pulled in to the last waterhole. Simon could see eyes shining back in his torch and his first instinct was that it was a Cape Fox. Then he said excitedly “Caracal” and we all jumped to attention. I managed to get a couple of bad photos of it, but enough to identify it as my first Caracal. We saw another couple of Cape Foxes, a Barn Owl and lots of Spring Hares before reaching camp.
Our time in the Kalahari eventually ran out and we had seen so much: eagles, falcons, goshawks, a leopard, lions, cheetahs, a caracal, wild cats, mongooses, a genet cat, snakes, antelopes and so much more. We watched as Lanner Falcons descended upon doves and as Black-shouldered Kites built nests. Tawny Eagles pirated food from other raptors and cobras invaded weaver nests. Meerkats dug for insects and male Gemsbok made battle with each other. Ten days might seem a long time but it wasn’t enough for the Kalahari.