The yearning is swelling within to make another long trek to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: to experience the space, the silence, the starlit skies you can almost touch, and the complete lack of connectivity with cell phones and the internet.
It can be hot and dry; the wind can whip up clouds of desert sand; it can also be icy cold. It is a remote place that has crept into my heart and tugs at me every so often. Here are some examples of why this is one of the places I love to visit:
Gemsbok are endemic to this arid region – they are such regal animals.
Springbuck appear in large herds, reminiscent of what it must have been like before senseless European hunters bagged as many as they could in the name of fun.
Spotted hyenas help clean the veld of bones and so help prevent the spread of diseases.
Blue wildebeest gather around the small, concrete-lined waterholes and seek the shade of scrawny trees during the hottest part of the day.
What a privilege it is to see a ratel / honey badger out in the open like this.
Then, of course, everyone keeps a sharp eye out for lions!
We were the only ones parked at Ghwarrie Dam. While watching the antics of the South African Shellducks, Egyptian Geese, and the Stilts, we looked up to see two male lions padding purposefully along the edge of the dam. Not a sound did they make. There was not even a flurry of concern from the birds.
We watched in awe as one chose to walk along the edge of the water and the other a route a little further from the bank.
The two lions padded past an old elephant carcass without halting their stride – and disappeared. They had covered the distance in under two minutes.
Game viewing depends so much on the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time. We were joined by another vehicle not a minute later. The occupants scanned the dam and asked hopefully, “Seen anything interesting here?” There was no chance of them seeing the lions. “You’re so lucky!” They pulled off to seek their own good fortune elsewhere.
We later watched an elephant calf suckling its mother at the Spekboom waterhole.
At what has become known as Windmill Dam, four zebra waited patiently for the elephants to drink their fill.
Further on, some red hartebeest nibbled at the dry grass.
We decided to exit the Addo Elephant National Park via the Ngulube Loop. A low russet shape moving quickly through the long grass at the edge of the road caught our attention. The movement was far too quick for me to focus my camera and so I simply enjoyed our good fortune at seeing the unmistakeable shape of a caracal emerging from the tangle of spiky shrubs and long grass and bound across the road in the mellow afternoon sunshine – my first sighting of one in the Park.
Good game viewing really can be the result of the luck of the draw sometimes!