Camping at Polenswa

09th May 2012
Polenswa is one of our favourite camps in the Kalahari. The scenery is beautiful and we have yet to mention the solitude we enjoy at certain times of the year. We were there few months ago, and you might find it of some interest to read my account of one particular sighting…

"…it was hard to say when exactly the night arrived, I was busy downloading the images taken during the day and Andre was cooking up a storm. And what an eventful day it had been! We witnessed one of the most amazing rain storms ever, and confused gusts of wind nearly blew our kitchen away and the tent got wet inside. The cleaning-up operation took us the most part of the afternoon. After the rain had stopped the sky turned purple and we decided to go and look for something to photograph while the light was still good. We did not have much time, the decline was gradual even though the sun was still bursting here and there through heavy clouds. First came a slight dip in the temperature, and that we enjoyed tremendously. We drove around taking pictures of the magic landscape unfolding before our eyes till we got tired and hungry. On our way back to the camp we stopped for a cup of coffee, and as I was busy filling our cups Andre saw the lions. Suddenly, any suspicion that we were going to leave the Kalahari without getting close to them dissipated. The sight of the four beasts was truly magnificent and it filled us entirely, awakening all our associations with previous encounters with lions. Their odor reached us as they walked slowly past our car windows. The older lion's mysterious confidence and that golden mane flowing about him in the sudden cool breeze killed the conversation in the car. We drew our digital weapons and aimed at them, still mesmerized by their sight, the sound of our Nikons suddenly meaningful even though both of us had forgotten to check the settings. The old male stared fixedly towards my window for a moment and I just sat there and took it all in. Then he walked away and I leant against the window panel, following him as a slight drizzle started to fall. I pursed my lips and thought--another missed opportunity. But it was all worth it, that encounter, that eye-to-eye contact, that moment which left my mouth dry and my heart pounding-I just loved his power and the danger he exuded…"

That evening we discovered we had taken some amazing pictures, despite the brevity of our encounter with the lions. On that very same evening I also managed to step on a puff-adder, since with all the excitement I had forgotten to wear my boots ( I should have known better, I should have remembered that snakes and scorpions tend to wonder about when there is a storm, looking for shelter). I was very fortunate to escape unscathed, that gorgeous big snake moved gently away as I carefully lifted my bare foot from its back, and then he spent the evening in a corner of our make-shift kitchen behind the solar panels. He was gone the next morning…

Our life passion-photography-has become crystallized around the Kalahari and its creatures. Although we visit other places, we always go back to the Kalahari. Our happiness depends on it, and we believe we have won our right to be there, be it for a couple of weeks each year. We hope one day we can move closer to the Park, right now it takes us two days to get there...


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