Monday, June 27, 2016

Sailing the Kalahari

A couple of South Africans we spoke with back in Simon's Town had the same advice to us about seeing the natural of South Africa. Go to the Kalahari, they said. Kruger is great, they explained, but the Kalahari is wilder.

Well, who could resist? Certainly not the Galactics. Soon our initial plan of a two-week overland tour had blown out to a month, with plans to take in the Kalahari and points north in Namibia.

(The three-day trip between Kruger and the Kalahari still resonates with us. Alisa met a woman from Jo'berg recently who said, "You did that with kids? You're brave."

Surely it couldn't have been that risky?)

Our target was the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is shared among South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

A trophy moment for us - a leopard stalking and catching a bird. Here, the pounce...
A quick reaction as the bird tries to get away
And success - we couldn't ID the bird, but you can see it in the leopard's mouth.
Galactics are quite bloodthirsty in our wildlife viewing - we love seeing
acts of predation.
The Kalahari is much drier than Kruger, but at least in the bit that we saw, it isn't quite desert. More of an arid savannah.

We found less car traffic in the Kgalagadi than we had in Kruger. And there was much less camaraderie in the Kgalagadi. In Kruger, everyone was forever rolling down their windows to share tips for recent sightings. In the Kgalagadi we struggled to get people to talk from their vehicles, and then found ourselves giving up and generally keeping our own counsel. Remarkable how quickly you fall into line with the social norm.

Pale chanting goshawk
Ostrich - much brighter plumage than we've seen in captive birds
Secretary bird - a raptor that has evolved to be a stork
So we spent our days driving the sandy roads of the park, watching the wonders of the world through our truck windows. The megafauna populations of Africa are highly fragmented, hanging on in various scraps of protected habitat that are quite widely separated. Long-term, the prospects for a lot of species aren't that hot. See "southern ground hornbill" and "African wild dog" and "theory of island biogeography". And both rhino species are in a poaching-fueled free fall, with not much further that they can fall. But it is still possible to rent a truck and drive around with your family to see the wonders of southern Africa for yourself. Too cool, and a great example of reveling in the state of the world as you find it.


Cats. We always look for the cats.

The kids running around the rig to burn off energy in the middle of a long day of sitting and riding. Note that this picnic spot is unfenced. Consider the photo above and wonder about the potential consequences. We were pretty vigilant.

Our redsand campground.

Finally, there's this photo below that Elias got with the point-and-shoot. He was so proud of it, and so keen that it be posted to the blog. I think it encapsulates a lot about how much he and his brother are getting out of this side trip.


  1. Elias should be proud of that photo - it's amazing!

    1. Elias says, "thanks for the compliment!"

  2. Outstanding photo, Elias! You've got a good eye!

  3. It all looks and sounds wonderful. I'm glad you are all having a fabulous time. Much love,

  4. Top shot from Elias, and thanks for pix of the "rig" too. All the better to imagine you vigilantes and your delicious offspring on safari. So so wild. x

  5. That's a photo thumbs-up from people who know travel photography. You can't imagine how Elias will smile when I pass on the "top shot" compliment.