To most outdoor enthusiasts that is going to sound ridiculous. After all, nature is one big bathroom . . . for everyone and everything. Not so in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari. There, a very strictly enforced rule states that you may not get out of your vehicle, or dangle any part of yourself outside your vehicle, for any reason. Why? Well, it’s really not safe out there. Even though it may look as if there is nothing there, there could well be a lion (or two) just around the next bush. As the warning below indicates, you’re just not going to be able to run fast enough.
So what does one do with there being a driving time of two plus hours between camps? Very thoughtfully, SANParks (South African National Parks) have set up picnic spots with little bathrooms on the longer stretches of road. Situated in open, flat areas with good 360° visibility and often a couple of trees for shade, these are popular with visitors to the KTP.
There is just one little – or sometimes not so little – problem. One can’t always get to use the facilities. You are warned, even at the picnic spots, to look around you when you get out of your vehicle. And to check that the toilets aren’t occupied before you enter them. Here the park authorities aren’t talking about occupied by other humans, they are talking about occupied by the wildlife! You see, humans aren’t the only ones that like wide open areas, with good visibility and a bit of shade. Although they have done a good job of barricading the actual buildings, sometimes you still get this kind of situation.
These photos were taken on two separate occasions (one of them being in September 2009) by visitors to the Auchterlonie picnic area and museum. We were there in September 2009! The buildings are situated up on a level ridge i.e. there is very good visibility. We just didn’t look behind the little buildings. NOT going to make that mistake again!
For those of you who can read Afrikaans, you can click HERE (Weg! magazine, December 2009) and HERE (Weg! magazine, February 2010) for copies of the two articles. In the first article 11 lions were spotted next to or near the building. In the second article 10 lions were spotted. So these are probably photos of the same lion pride.
If you haven’t been following the Kalahari Series on my Photoblog, go and check it out. You can access the post index page by clicking HERE.