Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park – A Taraji Blue Trip Report

We’ve been receiving quite a lot of requests for advice about African safaris recently, which has inspired me to reshare links to our trip report for the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park in South Africa.

We initially wrote this trip report as a HUGE thank you to everyone on the SANParks forums for their fantastic advice and support when we were planning the trip -without them this would not have been a trip of a lifetime. I urge you to join their forums if you’re planning a trip – their enthusiasm alone will have you counting down the days until your holiday starts ūüôā

Enjoy – and safe travelling!

The tale behind the leopards of Kgalagadi

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Last year, in Kgalagadi National Park we had some pretty jaw dropping leopard sightings. We shared two of our experiences with the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Leopard Project and were delighted this week to find out more about the leopards we saw and their offspring who are now exploring the vast plains of Southern Africa.

From the candid snapshots shown in this blog, the mating leopards were identified as the Auchterlonie female and Dakotah. This sighting from June 2012 would suggest that Dakotah is the father of young Warona who the projects estimates was born in October 2012 :).

The second sighting on day 7 of our trip is likely to be Miera, a young female.

The project uses public sightings of leopards identified through their unique spot patterns. They track the leopards and use the sightings to help estimate the population and to investigate range sizes. Please submit any leopard sightings from  Kgalagadi to their website http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/~schurch/leopards. From a couple of our candid snapshots, the leopards were confirmed as

The full sightings are detailed in the following Taraji Blue trip reports:

https://blog.tarajiblue.com/2012/08/trip-report-day-7-in-kgalagadi-transfrontier-park/
https://blog.tarajiblue.com/2012/08/trip-report-day-6-in-kgalagadi-transfrontier-park/

Photos from our trips to Africa are available to view on the Taraji Blue online photo gallery. 

Who Tore The Sky In Two?

The light around the galactic core of the Milky Way fills the skies above the red dunes of the Kalahari, from our vantage point at Killiekrankie Desert Camp.  The light trails beneath are from a neighbour's torch, searching for the lions which were seen earlier on atop the dunes to the left.

On our recent¬†adventure¬†in the Kalahari, South Africa we embraced all¬†opportunities¬†for star gazing. ¬†En-route to the¬†Kalahari¬†we’d stopped off at SALT – the Southern Africa Large Telescope¬†and had enrolled on a stargazing tour with them – this turned out to be an incredible introduction to the stars and¬†constellations¬†of the Southern Hemisphere. I put into practice what I’d¬†learned¬†and I was soon spotting the Scorpion and Orion, Leo and the Jewel Box (an incredible and intense selection of stars that twinkle an array of colours).

Each night we never failed to be impressed by the sheer volume and variety of stars and planets that could be viewed with the naked eye.  The immediate darkness of the night was quickly consumed by the brightness and volume of the stars, planets, milky way and magellenic clouds overhead. Many a happy evening would be spent  stargazing in the company of jackals whilst the braai roared in the background.

What amazed me was the milky way Рit appeared as if the sky had been torn in two. Without the aid of any binoculars, telescopes or camera lenses you could see this incredible division in the sky and make out individual stars, planets and spot what looked like black holes in the centre of the milky way. I was immediately hooked.

I cannot take credit for these amazing images, they are solely a result of the hard work and dedication of my very talented hubby, Alistair Knock. Any questions on lens,¬†composition, gear, “how on earth’s” etc please direct to him… I would be useless answering them.

For more of Ali’s work see the Sky Challenge Blog¬†and his ‘Space’ gallery.

A well deserved glass of wine under the Milky Way and the Large Magellanic Cloud next to the tent at Kalahari Tented Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.  Wow.

The most incredible place to stay – Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp

If Only All Days Would End Like This

Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp in  Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is, by far, one of our most favourite places to stay in the world.Imagine just 4 guest cabins, perched on-top of a sand dune, sensitively positioned so you’re not intruding on each others’ privacy, but close enough to allow searchlights to share sightings between the residents.

Each cabin faces endless rows of gently undulating dunes which glow brightly in the sunset each evening.  It’s part of the the Sanparks network and offers incredible value for money and a romance very few places can match.It’s a wilderness camp so there are no fences and safety is taken very seriously. You’re ‘locked down’ into your cabin after dusk and cannot emerge until dawn – but the tailor made decking allows guests to braai outside under the endless starts of the milky way, searching for wild animals by spotlight whilst being visited by resident barn owls.

The skies here are huge and they stretch beyond your vision, rendering you¬†speechless¬†as the¬†blackness¬†is replaced by¬†twinkling¬†stars,¬†satellites, the magellanic¬†clouds¬†¬†and¬†shooting¬†stars. Without going OTT, this is a place to rediscover yourself, get a bit of perspective and realign your worries, stress and perspective on the world. Life doesn’t need to be as complicated as we make it – for two weeks of the year we¬†should¬†slow down in a place like this and recall what it is like to¬†experience¬†life¬†without¬†wi-fi, tv, facebook and other¬†unnecessary¬†distractions. It’s pure and¬†unadulterated¬†bliss. Further photos from our stay at¬†Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp¬†¬†are available in the Taraji Blue Kalahari Photo Gallery.

Reflecting on our time in Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park

Black and white image of a cheetah's face

That, folks, is the end of my Kgalagadi¬†Transfrontier National¬†Park Trip Report.¬†I only wish I would have been there for longer so I’d have more experiences to share.

I’ve loved sharing it with you… it’s helped me relive memories and kept my passion for Africa well and truly alive. Needless to say, we will be back to KTP, it has captured our hearts and our souls and it is one of the few places in the world that we hope to return too time and time again!

I thought it’d be a fitting end to share with you my top 5 experiences and some photos that didn’t naturally ‘fit’ into the trip report.

My top 5 experiences:

1. Braaiing! I cannot communicate just how much it means to me (a ‘city career’ girl) to be able to stand in the open air, getting smoky, with hair unbrushed and feeling the sand brush against my face in the wind whilst making a fire and braaing. It’s the real me, one few people see and one I have so little chance to embrace at the moment. It makes me feel alive, it reminds me that gadgets, gizmos and designer dresses are not the ‘norm’, that I am a nature lover who thrives on the great outdoors…and I am proud of it.

2. The cheetah chase….not because of what we saw (which was amazing!) but because we were ‘brave enough’ to take a risk and make a decision to leave a sighting to find the herd and see what would happened. It was a huge gamble and one that, thankfully, paid off.

3. Killiekrankie camp (killie) – isolation and solitude at its best. The perfect mix of luxury and wilderness. The sunrises and sunsets tore my heart in two when I realised this was a limited time sighting, on that I would have to live without at the end of the holiday.

4. Finding the barn owls in the water tank at Killie. Not the ‘idyllic’ wildlife sighting, but I was so, so, so close to the bird I most admire and I was crying into the lens with joy. It was overwhelming to be so close to a dream sighting and for the owl to be so at ease with my presence.

5. This is going to sound really odd…..but to stand at the KTP entry point with one foot in Botswana and one in South Africa was surreal. I have always wanted to visit Botswana..the travel brochures and websites do a great job of making it sound like an impenetrable water world that’s VERY expensive to navigate/ visit and impossible to visit on a self drive – and here I was, at a border post, with my right toes peeping into this country that had been on my wish list for many years!

This probably presents a very different view of the¬†Marie¬†Knock¬†that’s written the trip report to date, but I hope it communicates just how much I love being in Africa….despite being an amateur wildlife photographer, it’s not only the wildlife sightings that keep me returning, it’s the country too!

And what’s next? ….. well, we’ve sold our house and are buying a place further from a city and closer to nature….the main criteria being I have a have a garden where I can braai daily.

Here’s a few photos that didn’t ‘fit’ into the TR, but I thought you might like to see them…

A close up of a cheetah's face covered in blood 

All these photos from KTP and more are also available in our TarajiBlue Kalahari photo gallery.

My  Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park Trip Report is available in full here.