Its our last day in the Kgalagadi. Time for one more little adventure – the Nossob 4×4 Ecotrail.
A perfect way to meander through the dunes on the tracks less travelled. Stop to investigate the less iconic wildlife often overlooked. Hear stories about the unique plants including surprising flowers that bloom in the desert. Climb a dune to drink in the view to infinity.
Making camp in time to enjoy a spectacular Kgalagadi sunset before enjoying an evening round the fire. Going to sleep to the screech of an owl or the jackals calling. Wondering what the rustle in the bush close by is during your midnight toilet break only to discover the leopard tracks in the morning. Kgalagadi magic!
Day 3 and we are still in the Kgalagadi. This time highlighting landscape, light and colour.
Light and colour would change constantly during a day and with the seasons or the mood of the weather. I was profoundly captured with each change – a spiritual experience. More a feeling than just using my sense of sight.
And the stillness, the quiet was incredible too. Standing atop a red sand dune staring at the infinite horizon – serenity… You need to be comfortable with silence in the Kalahari, in my experience.
There is a purity here I have never felt anywhere else – it is a soul journey.
My Kgalagadi time actually inspired the name of this blog.
But it wasn’t always serene. There is a harshness here too. It is a place of extremes and paradox… as so much of the human experience is.
Choosing today’s pics was a tough task… a year’s worth of Kalahari wildlife encounters limited to 10!
Of course, there are the iconic Kalahari predators like lion and leopard. Then there is the majestic gemsbok (oryx) with their sabre horns.
The bird life astounds – raptors, owls, vultures…. I chose ostrich and a kori bustard to share today.
Then there are the cuties like the meerkats and ground squirrels… the mischief makers like the ratel (honey badger).
Cheetah were an added bonus. A little taste of true wildlife conservation research by accompanying Dr Gus Mills on a cheetah radio collaring project. We followed this sibling group most a of day through the dunes. The next day we changed tack and found a new female to collar. Elena had recently become independent. After I left the Kalahari Gus and Margie sent me photos of her with her first litter. There she was looking healthy, a gorgeous first time mum still sporting the collar I had helped to fit…
My lodgings – a shipping container village within the staff village affectionately known as Blikkiesdorp (Tin Town).
I remember the sound of the barking geckos of an evening, dodging scorpions on windy nights and the amazing family of yellow mongoose who kept the cape cobras at bay.
28 March 2020 8:30pm many acknowledged Earth Hour around the world. I happened to be in Twee Rivieren for the first ever Earth Hour. It was my task to communicate about climate change and its impact on this area of the arid North West. With not too many resources to hand and bearing in mind we are talking 13 years ago, I cobbled together a display, of sorts😀 I have included a pic of the display board in the Twee Riveiren visitors’ centre. We also parcelled up candles with a little info sheet for all the chalets, campsites and staff houses so guests as well as staff could participate.
More Kgalagadi wanderings tomorrow…. this time remembering many breathtaking moments with the incredible wildlife of this unique region.
In 2007 I spent a year in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
as a SANParks People and Conservation volunteer intern based at Twee Riveiren.
It’s difficult to put the isolation of this spectacular place in words but the experience of living in the Kalahari has been one of the most profound of my life. My time in the Kalahari inspired the name of this blog – Pure Spaces. Spaces/places have such significance for me. The way they make me feel, the energy they give affects me emotionally and often spiritually. The space that is the Kalahari would definitely fall in the spiritual category. And my name means “pure”. So there you go…
What you quickly learn in a place like this is how important
your small community is, you rely on each other for support, for
companionship. You have to get along
because you don’t have a choice. In my
case the small community within the slightly bigger Park community were the
residents of Blikkiesdorp (Tin Can Town).
Our lodgings being converted shipping containers. Let’s pause for a moment to let that fact
settle – a shipping container room in the Kalahari Desert!
So Blikkiesdorp, our little area of the staff accommodation of Twee Rivieren rest camp, was home to me, the intern, and two students studying Nature Conservation from Tshwane University. Occasionally the field guides would visit for a braai. But mostly it was just the three of us. A resident cheetah researcher and his wife adopted me as did the border policeman and his wife which meant a welcome break from Blikkies for a yummy meal or even the luxury of watching a little television.
Don’t get me wrong though, I grew very fond of Blikkies as the year progressed and it brought out some very creative “decorating” in me.
Here is where I need to introduce Kerryn, one of those students I mentioned earlier. A petite, feisty girl absolutely passionate about wildlife conservation. Kerryn and I clicked almost immediately. I say almost because she admits based on meeting my predecessor, she was determined NOT to like me. But it seems our common love of the band Smashing Pumpkins broke the ice! There is a good 10 year age gap between us, but I quickly began to admire her, particularly her determination to succeed in a (still to this day sadly) male dominated field of work. I am thrilled to say that we remain very close friends today even with the many miles that separate us.
It started with Kerryn, this kernel of an idea. By the time I had spent time getting to know
Margie, the researcher’s wife, and Isabel, the policeman’s wife, as well women of
the Khomani San community, I was overwhelmed by these extraordinary women I was
meeting and the stories I was hearing.
None of them would describe themselves as extraordinary. Most of their “voices” weren’t the voices of
activists or feminists. They were just
ordinary women blooming where they were planted – creating, nurturing,
learning, growing, caring, loving in that very unique way women do.
I have to share these “voices”, I thought. Their stories deserve a place in the sun. So here I am all these years later beginning
this journey… I finally seem to have found my courage, to have found my
voice. This is the introduction to what
I hope will be a series of posts over the coming months – the extraordinary
voices of ordinary women.