Trip report: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, September 2015 (Part I – day 1 & 2)

It has been a while since my last trip report posted on my blog. In fact my last trip report was posted in June 2014 and it was on our November 2013 Kgalagadi trip. So, I think it is high time that I do post another trip report. This trip report is especially for Alma and Lamps – the latter not being convinced that travelling 1600km for a long weekend in the Kgalagadi is worth the effort. One must remember that when visiting the Kgalagadi, it is not just about photography. It is being in the Kgalagadi, it is being in the veld enjoying what Nature is offering us, it is the braai in the evening.

 

I decided to stay in Twee Rivieren for the entire 5 days – just to relax and enjoy the park with no real photography expectation. Just to wait en see what the Kgalagadi has to offer. Now lets see what the Kgalagadi has to offer for a weekend visitor like me:

 

Day 1 – Afternoon drive

 

I arrived at Twee Rivieren just in time (gate closing time in September in 18H30) to take a short afternoon drive up to Rooiputs waterhole. Not much to see but such a nice feeling just to drive with the wind blowing through the open window. On my way back there was a BB jackal at Leeudril waterhole drinking water. I’ve tried a backlight shot with a -1.3 underexposure setting because Leeudril is more of a morning shot waterhole.

01 Leeudril jackal W

Leeudril jackal

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO250, 1/3200, f4, exposure comp = -1.3, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 28 meters from jackal

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After I left Leeudril waterhole, I came across this Southern pale chanting goshawk (what we use to call a Kalahari hoender) sitting on a branch while enjoying the last sunlight. Unfortunately the bird turned around and took off in the wrong direction – therefore no opportunity for a bird in flight (BIF) shot. As you can see from my camera settings, I was ready for a BIF shot

02 Goshawk last light W

Goshawk in last light

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1250, 1/4000, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 21 meters from goshawk

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Day 2 – Morning drive

 

Gate opening time in September is at 06H30 and I collected my permit at the gate. Just pass Rooiputs waterhole I found this Kori buster enjoying an early morning dust bath in the middle of the Nossob riverbed. A bit far (63m) for a decent shot but the 1.4 converter helped a lot.

04 Kori dust bath W

Kori dust bath

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens with 1.4 convertor – 850mm, ISO800, 1/4000, f5.6, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 63 meters from Kori

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04a Kori after bath W

Kori after bath

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens with 1.4 convertor – 850mm, ISO800, 1/4000, f5.6, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 63 meters from Kori

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And the Kgalagadi yet again ensured that I did receive enough owl sighting on this trip – a lot of them. This Giant eagle owl was sitting in a tree a few kilometres before Kji Kji waterhole next to the road – one could almost touch it (luckily it was too high up in the tree).

03 Eagle owl yawn W

Eagle owl yawn

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/1600, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 9 meters from owl

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After a nice cup of tea and rusks at Melkvlei picnic spot, I found this Spotted eagle owl just around the corner from the picnic spot in a tree next to the road. I really did enjoy the owl sightings on this trip even though it was not good photography sightings.

05 Eagle owl one eye W

Eagle owl yawn

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/2000, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 9 meters from owl

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Between Gunong and Melkvlei there are a lot of Whistling rat colonies on the edge of the road. It is just a pity that one only arrives around 08H30 at this spot when the sun is already too “hard”. Nevertheless, one can always try a monochrome image. Not an award winning image but I did enjoy watching the alertness of these rats, especially when one is very close to them.

06 Rat BW W

Rat BW

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO1600, 1/5000, f8, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 6 meters from rat

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When I reached Gunong waterhole, I decided it was already late in the morning – no luck finding the 5 cheetahs and turn back towards Twee Rivieren. I decided to return to Twee Rivieren via the Auob River, so I took the lower dune road at Kji Kji waterhole. Interesting to see so many (around 10) Northern Black Korhaan in the Auob River bed from Auchterlonie to Houmoed. They are usually found on the lower and higher dune roads amongst the dunes.

07 Korhaan Northern black W

Northern Black Korhaan – male

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO640, 1/4000, f8, exposure comp = -1.3, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 10 meters from Korhaan

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And there was even one or two red crested Korhaan around.

08 Korhaan red chrested W

Red crested Korhaan – female

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens, ISO640, 1/2000, f8, exposure comp = -1.3, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 10 meters from Korhaan

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Day 2 – Afternoon drive

 

Leaving the chalet around 15H30 for what started as a very relaxed afternoon drive. I decided to drive to the Auob River – taking the 7 km road over the dunes to reach the Auob River. Nothing really interesting except two Tawny eagles at Auchterlonie waterhole. One of them got sting by a bee while drinking water and was very upset – as you can see in this image, the bee still in the beak of the eagle. The image is heavily cropped.

09 Eagle bee sting W

Eagle bee sting

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens with 1.4 converter = 850mm, ISO1000, 1/5000, f7.1, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 50 meters from eagle

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Near Gemsbokplein waterhole I “accidentally” saw this Southern White face scops-owl in a tree next to the road. Like I said – Kgalagadi delivers when it comes to raptors and owls; one just need to be on the lookout for them.

10 Southern white faced owl W

White faced owl

Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm lens with 1.4 converter = 850mm, ISO1000, 1/5000, f7.1, exposure comp = -0.67, Aperture priority, WB = sun, 5 meters from owl

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To be continued – with lots of cats!!!

 

Message to take home:

 

All I want to emphasise in this post is the fact that if you do not like the veld (Nature) or hot, dry, dusty weather, then I think Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is not for you. If you only go to the Kgalagadi with the purpose to get that “WOW” image, visiting the Kgalagadi can be very frustrating. The reason being that one has to work very hard for your images. Sometimes one can drive for an entire day without seeing anything. Therefore, lots of patience is needed. However, even if you do not pick up camera at all during drive, you can always enjoy just being in the veld.

Just my opinion – we can agree to disagree!

 

Until the next edition of this trip report – keep on shooting!!!

  1. #1 by John on October 18, 2015 - 1:40 pm

    I agree…we hope to visit KTP for the first time in 2017 so can’t wait to read about the rest of your trip. Ps thanks for continuing to add your camera settings
    John

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