We are sitting on an isolated outcrop of ancient rocks, well to the west of Kimberley of past diamond digging fame, on the very edge of the Kalahari Desert – a mysterious expanse filled with an enduring aura of the unknown and a sense of timelessness with much still awaiting scientific discovery.
Actually, the Kalahari is not even a desert as defined by annual rainfall, but rather a vast area of arid savanna thornveld and swathes of sprawling tawny grass patches thriving on rich sandy soils, interspersed by meandering non-perennial drainage lines and salt pans stretching northwards as far as Zaire.
It is an hour before sunrise and already the eastern horizon is ablaze with a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours in contrast to the still dark pre-dawn acacia dotted vistas and shadows around us, now alive with sense-around bird song as the new day comes to life …
As the sun rises in classic fireball red and the dawn transcends through a spectrum of soft pastel colours to a horizon wide cerulean sky, we start compiling our audio collection of bird and mammal species within the morning chorus around us.
Sound in its purest and unadulterated form carries with undiluted clarity across the vast vistas of sprawling bushveld, commencing with the crowing of spurfowl, harsh rasping of korhaan in territorial dispute and the constant chanting of goshawks vocally competing with trumpeting cranes and the hysterical flight calls of hadeda ibis breaking roost on the dam wall below our lookout.
Softer, and far less intrusive are the liquid and melodious contact calls of scrub-robin, tit-babblers, assorted cuckoos, canaries, bush larks and shrikes within the almost orchestral morning chorus in close proximity to us.
Kalahari, of KhoiSan descriptive origin, has an engaging allure and legendary fascination that invites further investigation within an environment rich in biodiversity, made up principally of strikingly colourful birds and some extraordinary mammals that have successfully adapted to survive and thrive within an environment of seasonal extremes.
Later in the heat of the day, as our species count slows down and billowing clouds and distant sheet lightening to the north usher in the prospect of a cooling late afternoon thunderstorm, we set up our camp chairs to watch with awe the activity of a colony of highly endearing social weavers attending the needs of their compartment confined chicks, within the huge condominium of their communal nest in a camel thorn tree.
All this and more to enjoy in the way of a fully representative selection of what the Kalahari biome has on offer for the visiting naturalist to enjoy, along with an equally impressive variety of reptiles, mammals and plant species while wandering about on foot free of the confines of national park restrictions and the constant confinement of a vehicle.
Location for the experience as described is the Kingston game ranch of over 7 000 hectares of restored semi-arid habitat following the introduction of game in the wake of years of livestock farming and the degradation of habitat in keeping with past agricultural practices.
Accommodation of a 4 Star self-catering standard under thatch for couples and small groups in an unfenced user-friendly environment rich in natural interest and pervasive peace far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life.
As such Kingston represents the near perfect bushveld breakaway in the outdoor sense for the keen birder, wildlife photographer, enthusiastic botanist and ethical hunter to enjoy under the professional guidance of Doug and Lara Cox, as husband and wife owners, at affordable rates within a spread of accommodation and outdoor activities under ‘Kolobe Adventures’.
For more information on how to enjoy the Kalahari experience, how to get there, contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
A portfolio of some of the most likely to be encountered birds and other small creatures photographed during our stay: