South Africa Travel Diary -
25 August 2006
We headed out for Mata-Mata camp this morning, and immediately came upon a knot of parked cars, which means someone has spotted something. What have we got? A fine leopard, surveying his kingdom from atop a bluff along the Nossob river. Satisfied that all was well, he meandered down into the rocks for, what else, a nap.
Along the Mata-Mata road we found Lilac-breasted Roller, so called because of the aerial displays that it performs during courtship. One of the most common and colorful birds around, the Lilac perches in trees and swoops down to the ground to nab insects, showing off bright ultramarine wings in the process. It sometimes hangs around herds of springbok and gemsbok, looking for insects scared up as they walk along. Every nature photographer who comes to Africa must get dozens of great shots of this most photogenic bird.
Another nice thing about Kgalagadi is the solitude. Sometimes you can drive for half an hour without meeting another car. But when a pair of cheetahs came out from riverbed vegetation late this afternoon, every car around converged on the spot. About half a dozen watched the two felines as they stretched, washed their faces, and rolled in the grass. Then, because Mata Mata camp closes its gate for the night promptly at 6:30 p.m., we all rushed back to camp in a cloud of dust, arriving with just moments to spare.
26 August 2006