TRIP REPORT: MABUASEHUBE (including Rooiputs) June/July 2014 - Page 5





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  1. #81
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    Hi Stan
    Just catching up on your report ( and other excellent stuff on the forum). Another great trip and report from you and more great feedback for all of us on the forum. I recommend that you you be allowed to start your own topic ( moderators take note) when you start you expedition north. That way we we will not have to jump around country categories each time you cross a border.
    We await with anticipation!
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  2. #82
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    Hi Stan
    What are theo' s and dont's when there are lion in the camp?
    Must one be dead quite or can you open a flap to take photos or just watch them.
    Is it advisable to switch a torch on etc etc
    Thanks in advace
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  3. #83
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    There are others who have far more experience and more knowledge about lion behavior than ourselves. How to react to a camp visit has been discussed on a number of occasions on this forum. See if you can find these.

    I presume you are referring to being in a ground tent with lions in camp? I suspect that lions pass through or in close vicinity to camps far more often than is commonly realized. We certainly have seen tracks in the campsite without being aware of any visit. This is of course not the issue. At night, under cover of darkness, lions undergo a radical personality change compared to the sleepy languid ones we see in the day. Just extrapolate from the changes you can observe in domestic cats once night falls.

    When lions start exploring the campsite and fiddle with your kit and behave in a territorial manner then the fun begins. This is not a rare occurrence in Mabua, KTP and CKGR. These Kalahari lions seem to have an unusual affinity for campsites, I think because they can smell the water.

    In a ground tent you feel more exposed and may in fact be so, but the actual danger appears remote as long as you react sensibly. These lions know you are there and perhaps the secret is not to attract too much attention to yourselves. Avoid showing any sort of silhouette by sitting up in your tent, move as little as possible and avoid any noise. Unless they are at a safe distance I would certainly not be unzipping any flaps or be trying to take any photographs. In fact you have to handle them as you see the situation. You would not want to arouse their curiosity and end up with them taking too much of an interest in the human contents of the tent. I think much of this applies to a RTT as well. Being off the ground has the risk of giving a false sense of security.

    Should lions arrive in camp your best refuge is in your motor vehicle if possible. It is always said that one should not run. A lion can cover tens of meters in a second or so.

    What to do if the situation has become critically dangerous? A number of measures have been suggested, none of which we have ever had to resort to. Make a loud noise, sound an air horn, press the car hooter, pepper spray, let off fire crackers (illegal), tazer gun or any combination of the above!
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  4. #84
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    Hi Stan.

    Thankyou for the detailed and most entertaining account of your trip.

    Clearly you are a very experienced camper in those areas and while we are experienced campers ourselves, we do not know that area or the central Kalahari at all, and would really like to have a chat over the phone with some questions which I would like to ask please.

    It would be sincerely appreciated if you could kindly provide me with your contact details to my email address and I will then call you at a convenient time for yourself please.

    Much appreciated

    Tim Driman
    [email protected]



    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post
    Friday 4/7:

    We heard no lions at Monamodi and moved to our last camping night at Khiding Pan no 2 Campsite. Unfortunately perhaps, although there are plenty of lions in Mabua, we were not destined to meet up with them. Anne and I have had more than our share of encounters with lions in the past and a trip such as this is about more than the big critters. However it is a pity that our travelling companions were not subjected to being “revved” in camp by lions. Those who have experienced this know that such an experience makes for indelible memories. To me another exceptional experience was a first for us and more than compensated for the absence of lions. At dusk that evening a fully grown brown hyena wandered around close to the A-frame as bold as brass. We had an excellent view and it was astounding to see how habituated this normally very timid animal had become. Apparently it has been a regular visitor to the Khiding Camps for some time. As with the cheetah, the light precluded any photos and likewise its size viewed from the seated position in a camp chair, was surprising. The rest of our group had never clapped eyes on a brownie before and with its flowing brown mane this imposing creature made quite an impression. We were also visited by a couple of jackals here. Just to mention that I took an ultraviolet torch with me but could find no scorpions in any of the camps. Perhaps it was the cold weather? The quiet of the night was frequently interrupted by the banshee screeching of a barn owl. On our last night we once again resorted to a precooked meal, a curry (butter chicken) with all the sambals and roti. In discussion Anne and I agreed that in reterospect we had braaied one night too little. We have previously found that too many braais can become monotonous.

    We saw a few of the shy bat-eared foxes on the far side of Khiding Pan. We had also spotted a group scuttling for cover as we were leaving Rooiputs Camp.

    Khiding 1 camp
    Unlike our previous 2 camps there were no facilities for water here and no waterhole on the pan. No 1 and 2 campsites are right next to each other and I am sure any neighbours would be audible and visible. Fortunately 2 was empty at the time of our visit. These 2 campsites have good shade trees and a pleasingly open aspect. They are also set a little higher than the pan with a good view. We particularly enjoyed the sunsets here directly across the pan. The pit latrines here are also enclosed in little kleinhuisies and are more unpleasant than those with the open-air wooden stockades.

    PIED BABBLER AT KHIDING CAMP




    MARICO FLYCATCHER FREQUENT CAMP COMPANION



    KHIDING CAMP AT SUNSET





    Lesholoage Pan
    We took a drive up there and were pleasantly surprised to find a functioning waterhole. I am not sure if the nearby campsite no 2 had water but suspect so. This appears to be a very attractive campsite with an elevated view over the pan and situated only a few hundred meters from the waterhole. Campsite 1 is some distance away across the pan and apparently has no water facilities.

    LESHOLOAGE WATERHOLE



    Mabuasehube Pan
    This is the largest of the pans with a dry waterhole at the time of our visit. I am not sure of the reason for this but note that lack of adequate maintenance by the park staff has frequently been blamed for this situation on this forum. Campsite 1 overlooks the waterhole and has a good view over the pan. Apparently it is a small campsite with no water. Campsites 2 and 3 are close to each other and share water and ablutions. I am sure they had no water at the time of our visit. Campsite 4 is a good distance further east, also on the edge of the pan and apparently has its own facilities. Mabua Pan had very little wildlife activity on it at the time of our visit, probably due to the dry waterhole.

    We did not have a look at either of the camps at Bosobogolo. It was reported to us that a group was trapped in the showers at the Mabua Gate by lions. This is far from the first time this has happened. It seems that the lions are attracted by the prospect of drinking the runoff water from the showers. On the way out of the park, along the cutline road, we saw visitors successfully collecting firewood and if entering Mabua from this gate, this seems to be the way to go. No wood may be collected in the park.

    On a sour note there were quite a few of the white “daisies” on view in the camps and even along the roads. These are of course due to the inconsiderate littering from used toilet paper. The rubbish bins were full to overflowing in many of the camps and I would advise in fact taking your rubbish out with you.

    Sat 5/7 and Sun6/7:

    This was the sad day that we packed up and began the long journey home. The other 2 vehicles were driving to Gauteng and were able to do it in one long drive, arriving in the early evening. At the Mabua Gate we parted ways on the cutline with us proceeding eastwards towards Tshabong and the others going first west on the cutline, then north to the tar and later to Lobatse and the border post on the Transkalahari Highway. Apparently the dirt roads were good for the rest of the group except for the first part of about 14km on the cutline. The road was sandy again on the newish diversion around private farmland. The route was obvious and there were no problems getting lost even without a GPS.
    We had a far longer drive on the cutline forming the northern boundary of the park. This was deeply rutted sand and although entirely passable when towing, I am sure would be a bit of a mission with a trailer. This sandy cutline section is 41km long and could only be travelled at 40km/hr at best. We passed 2 graders travelling down this road so perhaps others making the trip later will be pleasantly surprised. After this one drives on a very pleasantly firm dirt road and the travelling speed can comfortably be increased to 80km/hr or more. This better section of road to Tshabong is 71km long and the total trip from Mabua gate to Tshabong took us 1hr 50min for the 112km. There are 3 fuel stations in Tshabong and I would think that fuel supplies would be reliable here. We filled up here and had used 98l since Upington.

    From Tshabong it is only 25km on a good dirt road to the quiet McCarthy’s Rest Border Post where passage was quick and easy. We proceeded via Kuruman and Kimberley, reaching Bloemfontein by 17H00 where we overnighted. The weather had become freezing again from a new cold front. After an early start the next morning we were in East London by lunch time.

    STATS AND COSTS

    Cost of fuel in SA – 500ppm diesel R13.66/l
    Cost of fuel at Nossob – 500ppm diesel R14.63/l
    Cost of fuel at Tshabong – 500ppm diesel Pula 9.84/l (R 11.86)

    KILOMETERS COVERED – 3350km
    Fuel costs and litres used in total – R 7685.00 Liters 564.5
    Fuel consumption – 5.9 km/l
    - 16.85l/100km (if my calculations are correct)

    COSTS OF PARK
    P8 vehicle entry fee.
    P20 pppd park entry.
    P30 camping pppd.

    OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

    Anne and I were in a very relaxed mode and really did not spend a lot of time chasing around on game drives, especially not early in the morning and perhaps we might have lost out on predator sightings because of this. We were with a group and really did not want to impose any rigid routines. Also the mornings were rather cold and gate time is only 7H30 in the mornings. I noticed that most of the other visitors appeared to stay put in their camps for much of the day and going for game drives seems to be far less of an emphasis. Most visitors seemed to be content with the peace and quiet in the camps and sitting around in the sun admiring a view over the pans. The normal spectacular Kalahari sunsets were a source of great pleasure as were those crystal clear views of the sparkling night sky.

    FINAL SUNSET






    I must comment that it was exceptional to spot any game on the roads and cutlines joining the various pans. We found it most worthwhile to do slow relaxed circuits between the various waterholes on the pans. The game densities were as low as we recalled from our previous visit. Certainly much lower than in the South African side of KTP along the river beds. It appeared to be the equivalent of the game densities of the inter-dune areas of the South African part of the park. Certainly one would expect to see more game in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, even at this time of year. I mention this only to try and avoid others being disappointed in Mabua from this aspect. To me Mabua is more about experiencing the rugged Kalahari terrain with its stark beauty and splendid feeling of isolation and timelessness. Being school holidays the park was fairly full but there was no feeling of being crowded, however there was not the sense of total isolation experienced in CKGR. The campsites are very reminiscent of those in CKGR except many of them have the advantage of water (not potable).

    CONCLUSION

    Mabuesehube has never been on the top of my list as a wildlife destination but certainly qualifies as an authentic wilderness experience. It is great when your most pressing problem is the amount of soda water remaining, where your tracksuit trousers are, “where is the toilet paper”?, “ are the beers getting cold in the freezer”? or “has the meat been taken out of the freezer”? Some members of the group should recognize themselves from these quotes!

    The game numbers are not high but I am not qualified to comment on the game populations during the summer months. When we visit again it will be in summer. I prefer the SA side when green and would be interested to see if the same applies to Mabua and surrounds. The campsites are all good, some seem a little better because of their view, relative distance from neighbours, presence of reliable water, better ablutions or the general attractiveness of their location. The two Mpayathutlwa sites seemed particularly attractive to us, the Mabuasehube camps would have been almost as attractive if they and the waterhole had water. Monamodi 2 was fine because of the water, waterhole and ablution facilities. It lacked the view of some of the other camps. Khiding has a reasonable view but camps 1 and 2 are too close to one another and a negative is the lack of water and a waterhole. We liked the look of Lesholoage 2 camp, with its view over the pan, privacy and close proximity to the waterhole. I suspect it has water when the waterhole is functioning. Matopi 1 and 2 seem to be very reasonable stopovers to avoid having to do a very long one day trip. Saying this it seems entirely appropriate to cover Nossop to Mabua in 1 day.

    The campsites themselves are very reminiscent of those in the Central Kalahari and it would seem that lions are just as prevalent in Mabua. I was very envious of the group that reported 3 leopard sightings at more or less the same time we were there. It would seem that combining Mabua with Rooiputs and Polentswa would give one an above average chance of seeing the elusive brown hyena. The prevalence of predator visits to the camps reinforces my stance on packing away everything at night and avoiding foodstuffs and utensils lying about or stored in ground tents. The water that lies about in camp after showers etc could be one of the reasons for predators including the campsites on their rounds. You need to be on your toes if you want to be confident of avoiding a nasty shock or worse.

    My ideal itinerary would start with 2 or 3 nights in Rooiputs, campsites 1, 2 or 3. Then a night or so in Nossob or Matopi and then onto Mabua via the Bosobogolo Trail. At Mabua I would definitely include some nights at Mpayathutlwa 1 Campsite and then probably Lesholoage 2. If the Mabuasehube Pan Campsites have water these would also be a consideration but we did not have close enough a look to be able to choose between the four. Camps 2 and 3 seemed a little close to one another for comfort.

    I would then take the one way Wilderness Trail back to the Nossob road and spent a good few nights at Polentswa Camp. Other forum members with far more exposure than myself to this park may want to point out where they disagree based on their greater experience.

    If you are not on a search for large numbers and a wide variety of game and a pure wilderness experience is fulfilling enough for you, then you will not be disappointed by a visit to the Botswana side of the Kgaligadi Transfrontier Park. The entrance and camping fees are far more reasonable than all the other Botswana parks. This is because of the trans-frontier nature of the park and the fact that the Botswana prices need to be in step with those on the SA side.

    What a minestrone soup of people, personalities and ages we had in our group. A university accounting lecturer, a priest, a surgeon, a housewife and retired nurse, an investment banker, lawyer, teacher and cricket coach par excellence, an occupational therapist and finally an events organizer (I think).

    Finally thanks to Graham for the invite, Dean for braaing and building up a thirst and Rachel for all her help to Anne. To the G. family thank you for all your help. You all also helped me to see my beloved Kalahari through new refreshed eyes. To James, our little talk on the spirituality of a retreat to the desert or the wilderness, as in the years of yore, will stay with me as long as I am fit and able to do these trips.

    I think it is very very cold in Mabua right now.


  5. #85
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    Thanks Stan. Great report and photos.

  6. #86
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    Default Re: TRIP REPORT: MABUASEHUBE (including Rooiputs) June/July 2014

    Wonderful, informative report.
    Travelling there soon.
    Great ideas on what to add to the menu as well

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