Sociable Weaver (Philetairus socius)

The Sociable Weaver (Philetairus socius), also commonly known as the common social weaver, common social-weaver, and social weaver,  is a species of bird in the Passeridae family endemic to Southern Africa.  It is monotypic within the genus Philetairus.  They build large compound community nests, a rarity among birds. These nests are perhaps the most spectacular structure built by any bird.

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It is found in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana but their range is centered within the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.  They are literally everywhere in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.  Be careful when you are driving as they love to dart across roads in front of cars – some kind of strange kamikaze game maybe?

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LEARN MORE ABOUT SOCIABLE WEAVERS

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Audubon

VIDEOS

Some huge nests here!

David Attenborough’s doco on Sociable Weavers.

 

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Daytime Safari Experience Pictorial

This is doing the Kgalagadi safari the easy way – in our own rented sedan car just cruising down the main road which had TONS of wildlife!  Sit back, relax – it was a bumpier ride for us than it will be for you!

BIRDS

Secretary birds, Sociable Weavers, Bee-eaters, raptors & more!

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MAMMALS

Lions, Wildebeest, Antelopes and even an oryx!

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KGALAGADI MUSEUM

About halfway between Twee Rivieren & Mata-MataIMG_0943 IMG_0944 IMG_0945

Carry-on Bag Shaming

I absolutely hate checking a bag, even if it’s free.  I’m no fashionista, where I go people are looking at birds not humans so it’s easy to keep clothes down to 2 or 3 outfits but the camera gear can be pretty heavy!  But I have NEVER gone as far as some of these people!

 

Weigh Your Luggage Before You Travel

Have you noticed how airlines are cracking down on oversized (and in some countries) overweight carry-on bags & backpacks?  In Australia, you can only carry on bags up to 7 kgs.  Birders will usually be pushing these limits with camera gear, lenses, binoculars and guidebooks.  If you don’t want a nasty surprise when you check in and be forced to check your bag – and pay extra for it – you need to know the weight before you go.  This cute gadget also has a measuring tape built in!

You can also hide some extra weight in a Scottevest but they still don’t have a product that holds DSLRs and zoom lenses!

Lodge Review: Mata-Mata Rest Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

We only had 2 nights here and wish we had more as this place was amazing!  Mata-Mata Rest Camp is the perfect solution for people who want to feel like they are in the remote wilderness yet still have the convenience of 2wd sedan car access.

Mata-Mata is a very small camp with limited facilities so book online in advance and make sure you have enough food and drink with you to last your stay.  We took one of the budget chalets (shown in yellow).

Kgalagadi MataMata

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Our chaletIMG_0885 IMG_0886 IMG_0887

“Please can I have some of your sandwich”?

The correct answer is no!IMG_0889 IMG_0890

You can book these excursions with rangers for both evening and night safaris.  Book them with reception as soon as you arrive.   More on that later!IMG_0897

Planning A Visit To Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

If you have already been to Kruger and think you know everything about visiting South African game parks, think again!   Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park couldn’t be more different!  It’s located in a very remote part  of South Africa and it takes a couple days to get here if you want to enjoy the trip and not rush it.

Make note of what time the gates open and get in line as soon as possible.  We drove up early from Moloko Kalahari Lodge and were 1st in line.

Foreigners pay a conservation fee of R280 per adult, per day.

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Coming from South Africa (as opposed to Botswana or Namibia), you enter the park at Twee Rivieren.  There is a good network of roads but some of them are 4×4 access only so make sure when you choose a rest camp you choose one that you can get to!

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We were limited by budget, could only afford the cheapest automatic sedan car, but we still wanted to get as remote as possible so Mata-Mata Rest Camp was the perfect choice.  It’s deep enough in the park and small enough to make it feel more like wilderness.  It’s also very small and fills up fast so best to book it online as soon as the dates become available.  If you have a 4×4 and want to be even more remote, there are several excellent rest camps but once again, you should book as far in advance as possible.

Kgalagadi MataMata

Plan on bringing your food with you.  They do have a small store but no restaurant so you should bring either something to BBQ or sandwiches and drinks for your stay in the park.  The nearest large city with good shopping is Uppington.

The True Frequent Flyers Don’t Use Miles

No matter how often you travel and how well you use your airline miles to visit amazing places around the world, you won’t be able to top these frequent flyers!

No lounges, no champagne and no overhead lockers but they manage to make incredible journeys every year!

This live map shows the migration patterns of 118 bird species between North & South America over the course of one year.

And if you want to track specific species, use this map.

Lodge Review: Molopo Kalahari Lodge, South Africa

After leaving Oudtshoorn, our next destination was the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park.  It’s quite a ways and I wasn’t confident of reaching the park entrance before it closed so I played it safe and booked the Molopo Kalahari Lodge by email (on the 2009 trip).  There wasn’t a lot of information about it that I could find back then but they now have a nice website with tons of photos.  It seems to have expanded a lot since we were there!

We arrived around 4pm-ish so had time to check the place out and even get some laundry done!

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We stayed in this cute rondavel.IMG_0813 IMG_0814 IMG_0815

The facilities are beautiful with a natural garden and swimming pool.  There are a lot of birds on the property and (in 2009) they had a Blue & Gold Macaw in an aviary.IMG_0816 IMG_0817 IMG_0824 IMG_0825

 

We probably weren’t supposed to hang laundry here (which we hand washed in the sink) but it dried really quickly in the hot dry air.IMG_0826 IMG_0827 IMG_0828 IMG_0819

The restaurant has some amazing African decor and the food was really good and not expensive.  IMG_0818 IMG_0823 IMG_0822 IMG_0821 IMG_0820

You can book the Molopo Kalahari Lodge on their website.  It isn’t instant, it’s an email system.  It wasn’t expensive when we were there and it looks like it is still budget priced going by Trip Advisor.  Of course it’s best to stay in the park but if you need an overnighter, this is a nice place to stay!