Massive excitement today as we had a fantastic sighting of a leopard!!!!!!
We had left Xaus Lodge early as we had a long day driving into Namibia to Fish River Canyon. On the drive to our truck pick up point, we saw a caracal – like a lynx and nocturnal, so were lucky. After heading off in the truck, we saw the “GWS” (as in Goes Without Saying as they are common!) animals – wildebeest, ostrich, springbok, mongoose, bustards, oryx plus sociable weaver bird nests. Added to these we saw 5 giraffe – a few had been introduced in the 90’s and they now numbered 30 so are doing well. Also saw quite a few bat eared fox.
Driving along we came across 2 vehicles stopped on the road so we stopped to see what they were watching when Misheck (our guide) spotted the leopard in the grass about 30 metres from the road. It was quite camouflaged in the long dry grass but slowly moving. I thought it would move away from us but it came down towards us, coming within a few metres of the truck, totally ignoring us, then wandering off down the road. Amazing! The South African immigration fellow at the border said we had been extremely lucky because leopards are generally very shy. Only 1 more of the big five to go – lion!
We entered Namibia – the same red sand dunes with sparse vegetation for miles and miles but with very fine dust thrown up by vehicles. Stopped at an area of strange rock formations called the Giants Playground, which also has lots of quiver trees. Arrived at our lodge late in the afternoon, glad to be able to have a decent shower. The lodge overlooks a valley which leads down to the Fish River Canyon – quite picturesque. For dinner we had grilled kudu – very tender.
July 17 Sunday
Although a scenic place, there is not a lot to do. Bernie walked along the valley then the escarpment opposite before breakfast. Later we walked along the valley but apart from birds and a few beetles there was little to see. There are some wild animals in the lodge’s lease but must be in more remote areas. Mid afternoon we went to see the Fish River Canyon in an open vehicle over a bumpy road which took about an hour – usual sightings of steenbok, ostrich and oryx. The Fish River Canyon is the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon – over 160km long – quite impressive. Sipped champagne on the rim while watching the sun set.