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Touched by Leopard

Touched by Leopard

During my last tour with two clients from the Netherlands we spent 3 nights at the “Mabuasehube Game Reserve” in Botswana.
 
On the first day on our morning Safari Drive we were so fortunate to discover a Lion couples on their “Honeymoon” at one of the neighbouring saltpan. We were very impressed, because we could observe this two imposing cats very close by.
 
On the evening Safari Drive in another direction we came very close to another two large black manned Kalahari Lions.  
Back in our camp we enjoyed our diner under magnificent African Stars and we were very satisfied with what we saw today - and happy.

Kalahari Desert Safari - Mabuasehube Game Reserve

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We didn’t know what kind of surprising awaits us during the following two days at our camp. On day two we spotted some of the antelopes and very nice birds. And after diner we decided to go sleep early for tonight.

But on this second night at around 03:00 a.m. big noises waked me up. I watched trough the Mosquito net of the window of my tent. I saw two mating Leopards in the Moonlight only 20 meter away from my tent doing the "reproduction thing".
 
On the following morning as we stand up, we could see Leopard tracks all over our camp. My clients became very enthusiastic when I told them what’s happened last night.

But on our last evening and during the third night the ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE was awaiting us! We were sitting around the table after diner and suddenly my guest where asking me if there are also ant bears which could be seen in this area. Yes they are, but you want see them during daylight as this animal is nocturnal? Ok they said, but how is an ant bear looks like? Just a second, I will show you how they are looks like in my book “Southern African mammals”.
 
Therefore I walked to my nearby vehicle to pick up the book from inside the car.
But what’s that? When I arrived by my vehicle and opened the door, I could feel a SOFT TOUCH on my SHINBONE. Completely surprised I walked two steps back and watched to the floor to see what was touching me?

WOW! In the light of my headlight I saw a Leopard resting under my vehicle. It was the Leopard who gives me a soft slap (luckily without his claws) just to let me know:
Hey Man, I’m here, be carefully where to you trap!

I immediately realised that this was a still young female Leopard, who didn’t know how handling this situation. Luckily she was not aggressive but curios!
I made another few steps back and said to my clients:
There is a Leopard under our vehicle!
Yes, yes they said and laughed because they thought I would made another joke! No it’s not a joke, it's real! Watch under the vehicle. What should we do, they ask? Move slowly back and go into your tent, but don't run!

But what about me? I could not enter my vehicle, because of the Leopard under the car. I walked back a few steps to see what’s happen further. The Leopard moved out now her place under my vehicle onto the opposite site, which gives me the chance to climb into my save vehicle. The Leopard walked all around the camp, ones very close by my clients tent and further on under our table. As she where very curios and wants to know everything what’s going on here. All the time as she walked around I was speaking to this fantastic and beautiful creature something like “you are soooooo beautiful, absolutely gorgeous and fantastic”!
I was so fascinated of her beauty, majestic and powerful moving, that I even forgot to make a picture! Then suddenly the Leopard walked back to the table where the clients “beauty case” was on the floor. The Leopard sniffed on that beauty case, and she packed this good smelling thing and walked away back into the bush.

As the Leopard didn’t return into our camp, I decided after a while to go into my tent for sleeping as well. As allways I parked my vehicle only 1 meter away from my tent entrance and the vehicles key remains in the lock, e.g. in case of an emergency like Lions visiting the camp, I could get out of my tent and enter the vehicle immediately to chase away whatever it moves around our tents.

I slept and snored like “a little baby” dreaming of the Leopard. Until around 05:00 a.m. some raindrops waked me up. But luckily only a few drops and I didn’t have to stand up to close my tents windows. I tried to sleep another hour before it’s time to stand up at sunset! But firstly I feel that a must go for a “call of nature”. So I picked up my headlight and switched it on, and the first I saw where the Leopards head again under my vehicle, only two meter away!

I don’t know how long that Leopard was there again. Possibly she was attracted by my “snoring”! However my strong headlight irritated the Leopard and she decided to move back into the bush.

The following morning we found the “rest” of the clients beauty case in the bush nearby, and guests where asking me why that the Leopard where taking away the beauty case? I joked, and explained that it was a “Female” and she where looking into the Beauty case to find a lovely “perfume like Chanel No.5”... Just in case that the male Leopard returns as at the previous night, to be a “beautiful and nice smelling Lady”! Everybody were laughing after my jock and happy to survive this absolutely crazy night we had!  

This special experience was a great privilege which happens only ones in your lifetime! But maybe some of you dear readers, think that this is only a “fairy story” from my side. Please contact me anytime, I gladly provide you with the two guest contact details, so that you can ask personal about this story. Reality and genuine truth -  word by word!

 

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Thieving Lions in the Kalahari desert

Thieving Lions in the Kalahari desert

Even after 17 years of experiences in the wilderness, Kalahari habitants can still surprise me! On one of my last tour through the Kalahari we settled our camp side on the edge of a large Kalahari saltpan on the Botswana side of the “Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park”. There are hundreds of different antelopes on the pan to leaking the essential salt and minerals. After a while I discovered 2 Lions on the opposite side of the saltpan with my binocular. We observed the scenery until it went to dark. We then enjoyed our diner around the fire, and went to bed after a beautiful day in the Kalahari desert.

Lions in the Kalahari desert

In the morning just after 5am I woke up and I realized that my wife Helen, who was driving the second 4x4 vehicle, where already up. I called “Hey Helen where are you?” I’m sitting behind the vehicle and look the spectacular sunrise, was the answer! OK it's time for me as well to stand up I decide! I opened my tent, and had a closer look as always to the left and then to the right. Wow, what’s that? A big Lion’s head is observing the scenery of our campsite just about 20 meters away. The `Majesty’ was lying behind a tree, not aggressively; he was just curious to see what’s going on in his territory. "Hey Helen my love, did you see our neighbor behind the tree there?" Helen's head turned around the vehicles corner. "Witch neighbor, and where?" "Just there by the tree." "What do you mean? Oh a Lion!"

"Yes indeed a Lion, so please go into the vehicle, but don’t run, go slowly."

Our Safari guests could hear our conversation, and where starting to move and open the tent to have a close look to our surprising visitor. That was too much. All the noise and activities have let the Lion decide to move away, before all this “Paparazzi” get out of the tents to make pictures. He stood up, and he moved slowly and proudly away. OK, I said to the guests. The Lion is moving away, you can safely leaving your tents to have a closer look. We then were privileged to observe the beautiful beast for about 10 minutes before he walked into the dens bush.

OK it’s time preparing breakfast. I walked to the table to head up water for tea or coffee. But what’s that. Now I realized that my gas cooker made by solid steel where not on the table anymore, where I left it in the evening. Only the gas bottle with the chewed gas pipe where lying on the ground. The cooker - what a miracle - isn’t here anymore. Where is this cooker going? Flying away? No, I saw tracks and raze in the sand. The Lions moved them up to the nearby sand dune.

I climbed into the 4x4 vehicle to drive up the dune to get my cooker back, but unfortunately the “Thief’s” moved them further into the thorny bushes, and it was to dangerous following the tracks further deep into the bush, because the Lions are still somewhere, even if we didn’t see them. Therefore I turned back into the camp to inform our guests that I could only offer a bottle of cold beer for breakfast.  Our guests where very amused and laughed loudly after that little adventure.

Since then I store my gas cooker every evening in the vehicle before going to rest...

Kalahari desert

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Kalahari desert - weather conditions

Kalahari desert - weather conditions

What's the best time to visiting the Kalahari desert?

SUMMER:

In the Kalahari we only have two seasons. Hot summer season from round about October until April. First rain usually can be expected end of November. Peak rainy season are between February to April. But we do not having days with whole day raining, Normally we having on 2 to 3 days a thunder storm in the evening, until temperatures have dropping a bit, and then we ones again have sunny days until temperatures heats up again for the next thunder storm.
Temperatures between Decembers to end of March are up to 38 degrees, and it doesn’t cools down a lot during the night. But these high temperatures are not unpleasant, because there is always a pleasant breeze and not this high humid as around the equator happens.

WINTER:

Between May and October there is normally no rainfall. Blue sky for weeks is usual, quit warm temperatures between 18 to 22 degrees during daytime, but during the night temperatures can easily drops down to minus 7 degrees. You therefore needs warm winter clothes and important a really warm sleeping bag, for a restful sleep. This weather and temperature conditions are typically for such an arid semi desert as the Kalahari is.

 

Current Weather Conditions for Kalahari Desert at Twee Rivieren

                            

There is no common answer for this question! Generally all the year!

Deepens where your priorities are:
During winter time the possibility observing animals at the human made water holes, is a little bit likelihood, because all animals must come to the water hole if they are thirsty. Therefore with a bit of luck and passion you’ll have a good change for excellent pictures. But keep in mind that the landscape will be dry and brown.
But should you prefer to see the beauty of the Kalahari after a good rainfall, the best time then is between November to March, because the scenarios of the Kalahari are spectacular. Cooper red sand dunes, covered with yellow and violet flowers, green grass, blue sky with some with clouds gives you fantastic pictures of the Magic of the Kalahari Desert. Much Antelopes having babies from approximately November on.

Therefore it is completely up to you witch season you prefer for visiting the unique Kalahari.

 

Climate and Temperature Table for Kalahari Desert

January:  19,6 - 35,5°C

February: 18,5 - 34,9°C

March: 16,8 - 32,5°C

April: 11,6 - 28,5°C

May: 5,5 - 22,9°C

June: 2,2 - 21,5°C

July: 1,1 - 21,8°C

August: 2,7 - 23,8°C

September: 7,3 - 28,7°C

October: 11,8 - 30,9°C

November: 15,9 - 33,5°C

December: 17,9 - 33,1°C

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Unbelievable beginner's luck

Unbelievable beginner's luck

Just coming back with two clients from Spain. This was our short four days Kgalagadi and Augrabies falls Nationalpark trip, and find out that there are some people having incredible luck.

African animals in the Kalahari Nationalpark

It was not only they first visit in Africa, and the first time in South Africa, it was also there first safari they made. During the short time period of only 3 days at the Kgalagadi National Park they could observe the famous Kalahari Lions and Cheetahs. As “cherry on the top” on our last evening game drive back to our camp at Twee Rivieren as well a leopard hunting a Steenbok.

The leopard was using our vehicle as cover to get as close as possible to the prey. Before the final attack I could see the leopard in my back mirror on the back side of my vehicle. He was just observing the Steenbok and was waiting for the best moment for his final attack. And then the right moment where there when the Steenbok was turning around, and the leopard was reaching his “diner” with a few jumps.

Leopard hunting a Steenbock

Within only a few seconds the Steenbok was killed, and than moved behind a dune by the leopard. We where so impressed during this short time all this was happen, that we forgot making some pictures. But it was anyway to dark to making good pictures. However, sometimes you must accept that you can’t make any pictures, but you will “save this memory’s in your thought”. Because having the privilege to be part of such an outstanding moment, it only haves one’s in your live!

African Safari in South Africa

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