Ever been to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park? Well, then you know that it’s addictive – the chance to see the wildlife, recharge your batteries, hear the silence, feel the red sand between your toes. After 27 years and multiple visits, amateur photographer Madelene Silbernagl is still hooked. She shares some shots of Kgalagadi creatures in this photo blog.
Just before sunset a lioness brought her two cubs down the sand dune to the waterhole for a drink. These too little cubs were so playful and entertaining. One of them came close to the car to have a look at us, hissed loudly and then ran off to play with its sibling. We went back to Kij Kij the next morning and saw the introduction of the cubs to the rest of the pride. The pride had other bigger cubs who were very interested in the newcomers, but the other females quickly put them in their place.
‘The vastness and silence of the Kalahari brings real perspective to life and draws you closer to the splendour of nature and wildlife,’ says Madelene. ‘It has so much to offer but the Kalahari decides when it will open a window for you to see through. The experience is never the same: two people driving on the same road will have totally different experiences. Even after 27 years of visiting, we still feel as excited as the first time we entered the park’s gates.’
We arrived at Gharagab in the late afternoon with the temperature at 49°C. Just before dark came the warning cries of a jackal, which had spotted two lionesses before we did. The lionesses came to the waterhole right in front of our wilderness cabin. A male and another two lionesses joined a few minutes later. The pride hung around the waterhole for most of the night. As night fell silent, we could hear the lions lapping the water from the comfort of our cabins.
This leopard came over the sand dunes towards the road. When she spotted her own reflection in one of the vehicles as she walked by, she got into a stalk-like pose. After a while she relaxed and just stood there in the middle of the road for 45 minutes. The KTP Leopard Project (http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/~schurch/leopards/) helped me to identify her as Warona.
These spotted hyena managed to dig up the water pipes to the ablution facilities at the picnic site and thoroughly enjoyed the water break. They were very sneaky and made sure they kept an eye on all the people moving around. This was a reminder that the Kgalagadi is their home and we’re in their space.
It was a very hot and dry month in the park and water was scarce. These two brothers surprised me while I was in the shower. Luckily our vehicle was parked close to the shower and I could make a quick escape. We quickly realised that animals smell water from miles away. Every time we opened the tap and let the water run new visitors came for refreshment. We stayed at this camp for three nights and the lion pride was close by every day. At night, we heard the billowing roars right by the camp and given that there's no fencing around these wild camps, it was quite intimidating.
Which of these photos is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
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I'm an independent travel writer and book editor with a passion for Africa - anything from African travel, people, safari and wildlife to adventure, heritage, road-tripping and slow travel.
* 8 things to do and see in Sutherland