Road Trip - Day 1: Lions in the Karoo
A 4:30am alarm is early, even when you are going on holiday. Our first stop on a 10-day road trip to Durban is the Karoo National Park, just outside the N1 town of Beaufort West. This was to be our second visit to the park but our first with a 4x4 and hence our newfound ability to explore the furthest half of the park which is restricted to 4x4 vehicles only.
This also gave us the option to stay in one of the two remote cottages in this section of the park, ours for the next two nights is Embizweni, the furthest from the rest camp. Whilst it is an easy 5-hour journey to the park from Cape Town, the trek to Embizweni Cottage is another 3-hours from the reception. And imagine our dismay when we realized that the restaurant only opens for breakfast and dinner but not lunch! Instead we satisfied ourselves with an ice cream from the well-stocked stop and begun the second half of our journey.
This poor tortoise outside the reception had something strange going on with its lip!
We were quietly hopefully that venturing into the more rugged side of the park would prove fruitful on our quest to find the Karoo’s lions. The landscape is so desolate and with barely a blade of grass or tree for shade it seemed unlikely that the animals would be happy here. However, animals there are, and plenty of them too. Gemsbok, springbok, red hartebeest, Burchell’s and Cape mountain zebra are frequently seen, and to top it off 2-hours into our journey we had success with a lion sighting! Lazing under the shade of some Acacia Karoo thorn bushes were not one but three lions! Two beautiful males and a female, fast asleep in the searing heat of the early afternoon.
This cheeky springbok thought it would chance it's luck running past the dozing lions!
Elated we continued the final few kilometers to our cottage. Nestled in the middle of this vast Karoo desert where there is not a spec of civilization in sight and the view really is nothing short of spectacular. All that remains of the day now is to enjoy our homemade burgers and get an early night ready for the all the possible sightings that tomorrow holds.
The barren but beautiful Karoo landscape
Ostriches are common in the park
Young baboons contemplating life...
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