Rainy, with a spot of kudu at Brakah

go! Botswana - - HAINAVELD -

From the dip, it’s an­other 90 km of sandy road to the Haina Kala­hari Lodge turn-off. On my way to re­cep­tion, 6 km north of the turn-off, I stop for a few kudu cows and their calves. The lodge is home to the only camp­site in the south­ern part of the Hainaveld. It’s called Brakah Camp and it’s close to the CKGR bound­ary, un­der a stand of thorn trees. The lodge is sur­rounded by an 11 000 ha pri­vate na­ture re­serve and there are plenty of trails to ex­plore if you want to see wildlife.

At re­cep­tion, I’m warned about a pride of lions that has been hang­ing around Brakah for the past two days. I pitch my tent skit­tishly and light a fire. The flames flicker as thun­der­clouds gather over­head. Jack­als call and a lone hyena cries in the dark­ness. Then rain­drops start to sift through the leaves. It’s rain­ing hard by the time I’m tucked up in my tent, and it keeps rain­ing through­out the night and into the next morn­ing.

The next day, in the veld, I en­counter sop­ping wet kudus, fran­col­ins and a rap­tor tak­ing its chances in the driz­zle. White, trum­pet-shaped flow­ers sag un­der glis­ten­ing wa­ter drops. The rain even­tu­ally stops but the day stays cool. I don’t see much wildlife, but this beau­ti­ful part of Kala­hari is mine alone. I don’t see a sin­gle other ve­hi­cle or any other peo­ple.

Late af­ter­noon, dark-blue clouds move in with more rain. I hun­ker down and wait un­til dawn, when the sun fi­nally gains the up­per hand. The world is bright again as I drive to De­cep­tion Val­ley Lodge, im­me­di­ately west of Haina Kala­hari Lodge. An­nel­ize Slab­bert writes about De­cep­tion Val­ley in her book ’n Luiperd in my Bed. She and her hus­band Ger­ard lived here for 10 years. Be­sides the time she dis­cov­ered a young fe­male leop­ard frol­ick­ing in her bed­room and shower, she also had many ad­ven­tures with lions.

On the stoep of the lodge, owner Braam Baden­horst, who has lived in the re­gion for 22 years, shows me where lions chewed his leather couches.

“We have lions, brown hye­nas and leop­ards,” Braam says. “Peo­ple sit on these couches and watch the an­i­mals drink­ing

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