We are back from an incredible trip to Augrabies and the Kgalagadi.
It was very difficult to point our car south and head homewards on Saturday morning. That sand, the colours, smells, sounds, the searing heat and all that brilliant LIFE! It all gets under your skin so.
The place is teeming at every level. On the ground, below the ground, in the trees, and up in the air.
We missed the worst of the flooding that now has Augrabies and surrounds under siege. We saw the falls at their very best. The water was boiling, but certainly not as demented as it is now.
I was a kid in a candy shop with all the raptors in the Kgalagadi – the sky heaved with them! Lanner Falcons, Tawny Eagles, Bateleurs and Black-breasted snake eagles – soaring, diving, riding thermals or hopping around on the ground, massive wings outstretched and feasting on termites. There were Bustards, Korhaans and Secretary birds for Africa too…
We had one or two extraordinary sightings/experiences. The three that stand out the most for me were a cheetah stalking and killing a female ostrich (we are told this is quite rare), a springbok giving birth and a cobra raiding a sociable weaver nest. We watched each of these from beginning to end. Truly jaw dropping stuff. The adrenalin surges through your body when you watch these things play out…
What I love about the theatre of the bush is that everything is so raw and so vital. New life emerges, and the next second it is swiftly taken away. There is no mercy and very little dignity. One becomes so aware of just how tenuous it is to be anything below the top level in the food chain – every second of every day is about watching your back (between finding food and procreating). It is really that simple.
Rain has blessed the area recently and the usually parched river beds have a carpet of life-giving greenery. We had one glorious thunderstorm in the early evening, with the kind of lightning and thunder that you only ever get in the bush. It was the curtain call to a long night of rain – about an inch of it. The next morning the river beds were dotted with pools and boggy patches – for all of about 3 hours, only to be sucked deep into the earth.
The state of the veld is perfectly reflected in the glistening health of all the animals. The springbok, gemsbok and hartebeests’ flanks are sleek and taut, the cats all have gleaming coats, heavy bellies and satisfied smiles, and the ground squirrels just charge about with their furry parasol tails gobbling up new shoots – they are the real comics of the bush.
Our predator sightings (cheetah mainly) were also legendary. More pics and stories in posts to come…