Posted on the 4th October 2018

A year after our booking, our regular annual trek to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park eventually arrived, but this year we are doing things a bit differently. We had two gentleman friends joining us on the trip, each party in their own vehicles, but we would cook together and also share accommodation in Nossob. As we left home, a cold spell was predicted and a pair of extra legging quickly made its way into my bag.

After an initial wrong turn by our travelling partners, we met up with them at a farmstall in Citrusdal, armed with soft citrus, pomelo’s and rusks we set off to the Clanwilliam Flower Show. This show is certainly worth a visit, the amount of hard work and love is evident in this amazing exhibition being held in the old Dutch Reform Church, designed by Carl Otto and completed in 1864. First night in Calvinia ……… and of course the men loved the Karoo lamb! After another night of lamb, this time Kalahari lamb, we booked into the Park with great expectations.

At the Clanwilliam Flower Show
















Our welcoming and off loading at Urikaruus was interrupted with the most beautiful lioness, not a scar in sight, she was in perfect condition. We had a wonderful time at Urikaruus hearing the barking gecko’s, the resident Pearl-spotted Owlet, Barn Owl (resting under our chalet in the day time), and of course the ever present noise of hoofs at the waterhole, springbok, gemsbok, the odd Black-backed Jackal, Cape Fox and the Bat-eared Foxes all made their rounds. The resident Serval and the highlight for me, the Verraux’s Eagle-Owl came every night to hunt around the flood light. For two nights roaring lions kept us awake. 

Evenings were always such happy occasions, lots of chatting, laughs, good food, good wine ……. Ooo and did I mention the Bughu-brandy, apparently for the stomachs ! This year was very different for September, it was very, very cold, between -3 and 13 degrees and not a degree warmer …… at least I packed extra leggings! 

The first day was spent in camp, it was only 3 degrees and very cold, so birding was slow, but by 09:00 the doves started to come to drink and the Lanner Falcon started his dive-bombing. He eventually got lucky. We photographed Lanner Falcon, a Secretarybird, Gabar Goshawk, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, a pair of Crimson-breasted Shrike, Cape Glossy Starling, Namaqua and Burchell’s Sandgrouse (Q20 bird), Namaqua Dove, Brubru, Pririt Batis, Black-chested Prinia, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Red-eyed Bulbul, Marico Flycatcher, etc, all in camp. These species are however all widespread in the park. At midday all the big species came to drink, so there was movement of animals coming and going at the waterhole.

The next day we took a leisurely drive to Mata Mata, passing all the different boreholes, our favourite is still 13th Borehole. If you are a photographer and you want to take photos of the small birds of the Kgalagadi, this is the place to go (no need for long lenses). We saw Common Ostrich, Crowned Lapwing, Namaqua and Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Namaqua Dove, several flycatchers, Cape Wagtail, Cape, Great, House, and Southern Grey-headed sparrows, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Scaly-feathered Finch (Baardmannetjie), Southern Masked Weaver, Violet-eared and Black-faced Waxbills, lots and lots of Redheaded Finches, as well as Black-headed and Yellow Canaries, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Common Scimitarbill and a few Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, further along the Aub river.

In the Aub river bed we found lots of juvenile bird of prey still being fed by dedicated adults (Martial Eagles, White-backed Vultures, Tawny Eagles), but very little mammals, although we had the privilege of seeing Giraffe drinking twice. We took the Dune Road and then onwards north to Nossob. “In-camp” birding at Nossob was amazing, and we had amazing photography opportunities of especially White-faced Owlet. By now the cold have crept into our bones and the Buchu-brandy suddenly got used to warm us up! As always a visit to both Cuptje Cup and Kwang waterholes was amazing, Lanners, Sandgrouses and this year Red-headed Finches in their hundreds! A beautiful adult Black-chested Snake-eagle was seen at Kwang. A sundowner visit to Marie-se-Gat produced a pride of lions, including a mating pair. In total we saw 19 lions during our trip, including 4 youngsters.

It was a special trip, with very special caring friends …………… and those leggings, well well, they are still soaking!

(Text by Carin Malan. Enjoy this selection of Dawid and Carin Malan's images. Ed)

Martial Eagle
Red-headed Finches everywhere
Southern White-faced Owl fast asleep
Casual birding at sunset
Lanner Falcons with dung 1
Lanner Falcons with dung 2
Groundscraper Thrush

Gabar Goshawk in pursuit of Red-necked Falcon 1
Gabar Goshawk in pursuit of Red-necked Falcon 2
Red-headed Finches
Martial Eagle in flight
Who is chasing who?
Dis hoekom dit 'n Roofarend genoem word
A celebration of Red-headed Finches
Tawny Eagles on nest
Common Scimitarbill
Immature Gabar Goshawk
Lark-like Bunting
Black-chested Snake-Eagle
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater
Spotted Eagle-Owl
Yellow-bellied Eremomela
Verreaux's Eagle-Owl
Non-breeding Black-chested Prinia
Bateleur Ballet



BETSIE LATEGAN (posted: 2018-10-14 08:44:54)
What a wonderful trip
Thanks Carin
BARBARA BAUGHAN (posted: 2018-10-07 17:34:14)
I thought we were lucky but it looks like we need to go again!
Beautiful, Carin and Dawid, thanks for sharing the photos.
MARIETTE PITLO (posted: 2018-10-05 19:42:54)
What lovely photographs! So enjoyabletz
BRIAN TYLOR (posted: 2018-10-05 15:40:02)
Stunning pictures Karen, well worth suffering the cold.
ANTON ODENDAL (posted: 2018-10-05 14:58:11)
Stunning images, thank you Dawid and Carin. The reaction on Facebook is simply overwhelming
CAROL VAN HOOGSTRATEN (posted: 2018-10-05 14:33:03)
Amazing photography!! Well done Carin, en baie dankie
JOHN FINCHAM (posted: 2018-10-05 13:38:12)
Thank you. I need to be there ASAP.