Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kgalagadi Pofadder Springbok

We left Nossob early in the morning with a thermosful of coffee and the previous night's bread wrapped up in our foodbox for a breakfast somewhere on the road back to Tweerivieren, the camp at the South African entrance to the park (which straddles Namibia, SA and Botswana) on our way back south. The storm in the night had left deep puddles and washes all over Nossob and the sand was stippled where heavy drops had thudded into it and been sucked in by the earth.

Our road was like a roller coaster, up and down over the backs of the low dunes that characterize this part of the park. We felt like children, whee, up the hump and down again, and I aimed for every puddle I could see. Soon I realized that the puddles were in every dip between dunes and that animals might be drinking there, and stopped the shinnanigins.How do you spell that?

Beside this large puddle I saw tracks and got out, first looking around exceptionally carefully, to take a picture. I think they might have been cheetah. See the claws?

It was touching to see animals so used to dry conditions drinking the muddied but delicious rainwater.

It was a day for snakes. I don't mind snakes. I do mind spiders. Snakes have no legs so they're just fine. This one was about 4 feet long and sailed in front of us. I don't know what he was. Vince's post about the animals shows very good pictures of the cobras we saw later. Click on any picture to start his slideshow. We drove beside that cobra watching it move parallel to us, a few feet away, hunting. I've never watched a snake before, and was surprized by its beauty and grace. Not that I would have petted it or anything...

At a designated rest stop we had our breakfast of potbread and jam, and hot strong coffee.

I found more driedoring flowers.

And a camelthorn whose flowers had made pods.

At Tweerivieren, checked into an airconditioned chalet, I made friends with the camp animals - yellow mongoose, and ground squirrels. The mongooses were very sweet and pretty, the squirrels very confident. All seemed used to being fed. No, I did not feed them. Huzzah!

Yeah, yeah? - you ain' gonna feed me? Well, who's gonna make up for that dried up piece of shit corn cob, huh? Huh????

Inside the air conditioned luxury, we had some guests. Bats overhead. Poo on the bed. And a pretty moth.

We left at crack o'dawn to get a last game drive in before heading out of the Kgalagadi, destination West Coast. Below, my friends, is what happens after the waiting cars have dashed out at 6am, when the gates open. One car will stop when it sees something. And then it's an Indie 500 pile up. LA? Anyone? My goodness, this made me mad. People behaving like...animals! So ironic. You come all the way out here to see beauty and then behave like a pig would never dream of behaving. I cannot imagine what it would be like in season, in the winter and spring. I felt like sticking their telephotos where the sun had not risen yet.

We squeezed past, too pissed off to look for what they had seen. So we saw bokkies grazing on what recent rain had encouraged from the ground.

And later, after watching him all on our own for a good half hour, all the other nitwits still clawing at each other over something, we saw as the leopard cub left the water hole where he had lapped, leave the sand dune he'd parked on in the shade, and crossed the road to find a suitable tree in which to wait for his mom.

We left the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park quite thrilled. Cheetahs and leopards chasing each other, lions passed out after their breakfast, families of Cape foxes, flowers, storms. We left a lot unseen.

This is the desert? Later in the season these beauties turn into vicious thorns resembling spiked sea mines.

Keimoes, below, exists for and because of the Orange River and the grape industry it supports. We looked in vain for grapes. I think it was too early for harvest.

After Uppington, Keimoes and the Orange River's vast vineyards, shoutingly green right in the dryness, we drove through the town of Pofadder, almost exactly in the middle of nowhere. I could hardly believe I was seeing it. Pofadder was the butt of all childhood jokes. You did not want to be from Pofadder. And if you were, it would stand out a mile. And it would be hilarious. It was a neat little town. Dry, as the garden around this house below suggests. The ladies we saw wore helmets of hair and the men were fat.

I think it also had one of those "Private Schools", painted in big black letters on its terrified side. Which translates as right of admission reserved to those with white or beige skins. A reaction to all public schools (the kind I was educated in: along the lines of an English 'public' school, except with very low fees - uniforms, discipline, die for flag and country, take sports seriously, don't ask too many awkward questions etc) opening to all races in 1994. It's a long and complicated and ugly subject.

The N14 tar road from Pofadder to Springbok, cutting SW across the Northern Province, was unlike what I had imagined. It was beautiful, with interesting rocky mountains on the horizons, rich, I think, with minerals. Passing an unassuming sign at a turn off, I experienced the feeling of creepiness I had felt near Rosh Pinah. Mining country. Hairs on the neck stand right up. There is something undefinable about it which has to do, I think with money. More money than can easily be imagined, and with it, power. Samancor, Iscor, Goldfields, PPC Lime, Alpha Assmang, Anglo American.

There were flowers all the way between Pofadder and Springbok, lining the road edges, where the rain would wash and feed them. White flowers and upon them, white clouds of butterflies.

And then, whizzing by, I spotted pink, and we stopped at the next clump. Beautiful flowers, Hermannia-like...ID?

So the flowers tended the feet of our Landcruiser at it drove on the hot tar, and butterflies fell victim to our speed and mass.

We reached Springbok, withdrew money from an ATM, and turned south.


  1. LOL, you dared post the car pile up picture. It's an ugly side of things I conveniently chose to forget. ;-)

    Poor butterflies... I wonder how many distant cataclysms they caused by their fall...

  2. That was one BIG kitty cat pawprint. I would've guessed leopard...somebody heavier than a cheetah. How amazing to see the desert burst into bloom all around you.

  3. Beence - Ooh er...I didn't think about the butterfly effect. No wonder I've been having apocalyptic dreams...

    QC - leopard claws stay retracted, so don't show up in the print. It interested me to see that the lady leopard was not very tall, but very muscular, while the cheetahs were high at the shoulder, but whippet lean.


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