When you visit Kalahari Plains Camp, you will make a pilgrimage to Deception Valley, about an hour’s drive from the plains in front of camp. It is a staggeringly beautiful place, which at this time of the year is magically green and lush. The silky ‘Bushman’ grass that blows with the desert wind looks like it is dancing in pale silver between the crow’s foot grasses and other greenery.
Below a perfect cyan sky there are colours that collide with one another yet have a gentleness, like a perfect watercolour painting. As the beauty of the scene mesmerizes your eyes, the desert wind blows across the vastness and the sound is punctuated with the squawks of the black korhaan, the gentle cooing of the doves and the larks and the sweet chirps of the weavers. All of these birds show off their breeding plumage, adding to the colour kaleidoscope.
Vast herds of oryx and springbok dominate the valley. Summer is the season for babies, and both species protect their healthy nurseries of playful young. As the antelope make good use of the plentiful food supply, we noticed a lone red hartebeest and a lone wildebeest snuck among these herds for companionship.
It is not unusual to see honey badger in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve; however, for this time of the year it is, because they are usually well out of sight in the thick green bush. We had the best sighting of a scraggly-looking battle-worn guy who dug around in the soft sand looking for delectables to eat. At one stage he dug a hole so deep he almost buried himself! He was not concerned by us at all and Mike got some really excellent shots. To see honey badgers in numbers, the best time is during the winter months where we have seen up to 20 at a time around the plain in front of camp.
Also on the way to Letiahau waterhole we spotted a herd of eland. Mike was very excited because he has never seen eland in Deception Valley before. It is wonderful to have a “lifer” after so many years spent in the bush. They did not appear relaxed as they trotted out from the scrub onto the grassy plain in front of the ostrich and oryx. Suddenly they made an about turn and trotted off in the opposite direction towards our vehicle and straight into the line of camera shot. In a moment it was all over and they disappeared into the horizon and we appreciated the fact that we had been in the right place at the right time.
There were two male cheetah that had made a kill two days previously and had settled under an acacia scrub south of the waterhole. We went back to look for them, but on the way Mike picked up very large tracks of a male lion. Although we followed the tracks for a while we eventually lost them and were not successful in finding the impressive cat who owned such a massive paw-print. The cheetah were nowhere to be seen either as they probably made a hasty retreat with the arrival of lions to the waterhole.
See more of Mike's pics from the abundant Kahalari Plains and other beauty spots around the southern hemisphere here.