We met our new friends at Twee Rivieren gate and cleared through the formalities. Really feels like coming home when you see the reception building. Formalities are easy and we are through into the park. We are sleeping at Nossob tonight so we fill our fuel, visit the shop , let the air out of our tires and we are on our way. Nothing at the first waterhole but sure enough about 5 km’s further on we have lion in their normal relaxed pose during the day. Feet in the air, wrapped around and under a bush or just lying where they collapse. They are at the top of a sand dune not far off the road. We head off quite quickly as it is obvious they will not move until the day cools off. Lunch at one of the picnic spots and then a very bumpy corrugated ride into Nossob, much to the disgust of our new friends whose teeth are now chipped and broken. (slight exaggeration). We find a spot to camp and settle in for the evening. I can’t wait for the next day when we head off into the bush. Waterhole is quiet and only a few jackal visit. Uneventful night except we find out our new friend snores. A little banter in the morning, coffee and rusks, top up fuel and water and lots of ice and we are off via Polentswa. We drive through Polentswa and past the new lodge and finally we are on the Gemsbok wilderness trail or Polentswa wilderness trail. The 2 track is easy but it is still slow going and we make good time. Lunch is on top of a dune surrounded by a pan shaped like a horseshoe. What a beautiful spot. We spot some oryx on the pan. After lunch we head off and a little later than we planned we get to our camp for the evening. We have a great view over the pan and we quickly set up camp. We have a shower before the sun goes down and get the fire going for dinner. Before the fire is ready Naomi spots eyes and thinks it is lion. Sure enough out of the shadows we light up 4 maybe 5 lion. At this stage we have just put out all our food and eats for dinner, so it is pack away at a much faster pace and then head up into the tents. Naomi has us all laughing as she is quite comfortably giving Mike instructions what to throw up into the tent to eat, drink and smoke from the safety of the tent. The lion circle us and watch us for quite some time. Eventually we decide we have to cook and we emerge from our tents. They leave at some point and the next morning we work out that we camped at one of their favorite spots overlooking the pan where they can eye out their next meal. We camped in the lion’s den. It is hard to describe a pan. The best that I can do is a absolutely flat, featureless, dry lake bed. Normally surrounded by sand dunes covered with sparse bush and trees. It is stunningly beautiful and surprisingly full of animals. The oryx, eland, springbok and ostriches love the pans. We also spotted a few red hartebeest but nowhere near the numbers we have seen on previous trips.
After a cup of coffee we set off. The going is still easy but as the day goes on we find one or 2 places that are more difficult. We drive towards Kaa gate and see that the veld has recovered quite well from a previous fire. The animals have returned. Surprisingly we spot a number of honey badgers. After the turn at Kaa Mike comes across a porcupine in the road at midday. What a surprise, it takes off down the road at a fast run when we get out to photograph it. We eventually arrive at the camp site after a long days driving but this is what we came for.
This is why we have 4 wheel drive vehicles. The site is also next to a pan and has oryx and ostrich on it but far away. We set up and make a potjie (bush stew) for dinner. It is delicious. Sure enough as we go for seconds Naomi spots lion coming towards us (she is now the official spotter). It does not take her long to get into the tent and she directs operations from there. Namely pass up food etc. Things get a little more hectic when she tells us the lions are running in fast. We finish our meal in the tent and video and take photo’s of the lion who are having a good look at us. A very inquisitive youngster with it’s belly almost dragging on the ground was the bravest.
The next morning we woke up and emerged into a beautiful day again to find the lion camped at the top of the dune still watching us. We had a cup of coffee and sadly had to leave the lion behind. A beautiful drive lay ahead of us through and over the dunes from pan to pan. This wilderness trail is the game rangers track that they use to check on the pans. After a long day we get back to Nossob camp where we can fill up again with water and fuel. That night we hear lion roaring all around the camp and at the waterhole. What an incredible feeling, it is impossible to get tired of that sound. Funny but surrounded by lion the previous 2 nights we heard nothing. Today is a dune driving day and soon after we set off we start going up and over the dunes with the rough tracks at the top where vehicles have struggled and gouged out holes spinning their wheels. We have no problems but it gets worse as the dunes get higher. Eventually we come across a huge truck battling on a dune. He eventually reverses down and lets air out of his massive tires, tries again and sails over in 2nd gear. It’s all about momentum, tire pressure and knowledge. Behind him a convoy is struggling up the previous dune. Most of them are towing and the vehicle stuck has not let down his tires.
A couple of minutes later with tire pressure lowered they are on their way. This is our kind of fun, a couple of hours later we arrive at our camp area, Matopi 2 . Mike says best place so far. This is getting stale as every camp site is his best spot so far. That is the problem here they are all the best camp sites. We hang out our washing and within a short space of time it is covered by bees. This is not great but is an obvious indication that water is very scarce in these parts. We have no visitors tonight which is a bit of a disappointment as we are convinced we will have lion as we spotted a huge lion spoor through the camp when we stopped.
The next day it was off to Khidding pan and we stop off for breakfast at Bosobolong pan on the way. It is an easy drive and we get there in the early afternoon. Lots of bees and some stings. It is obvious they are desperate for any liquid. You have to close up anything you drink otherwise a bee will be in it. Once again a huge pan in front of us. The area is very dry so the scrub and bush we are used to is virtually non existant. How do animals survive in this drought but they do. We still see herds of oryx, wildebeest, red hartebeest and eland. Surprisingly very few springbok. This is the driest pan so far. Hopefully the rains come this year.
The next morning we start very early to get away before the bees come and head off on our last wilderness trail back to Nossob. It starts off easy and soon becomes our most challenging dune trail. The vehicles have really churned up this track. We let air out of our tires and bounce our way over the dunes. Mike spots lots of honey badgers and we get a few photo’s. We stop at the best camp site, according to Mike, and go for a walk on the pan. It is obvious where animals have been digging and we try our luck but it is dry. We only see 2 or 3 springbok around this pan.
Final stretch back through Nossob to Twee Rivieren for the night. It is a beautiful drive often up on the dunes next to the pans. The easiest route would be over the pans but we have seen them with water in and it would be treacherous then. A lot more animals as we get closer to the Nossob river bed.Finally we get to Nossob and then hit the bumpy road to Twee Rivieren. We get there just about 6pm. A long day. We set up camp and fall into deep sleeps. after a long hot shower.
What a wonderful holiday with great people.