Rainy, with a spot of kudu at Brakah
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