The African bush comes alive at night time. The heat seeps away, the crickets crank up their violins and those further down in the food pyramid stare wide-eyed into the blackness and ready themselves for their endless night vigil. Nostrils flare, ears pivot constantly and big cats with rumbling bellies begin to stir.
The Kgalagadi is no exception. Early evenings are beautiful. It is my favourite time of day by a long shot. I love the light that makes the sand blush and profiles everything with a tangerine tint.
The Zulus have a saying for this time of day: ‘Abantu bahle…The people are beautiful’.
I love the bush smells that seem to intensify as the sun takes a bow to the moon. The barking geckos start to click and bark and a little later into the evening, the jackals and hyenas will have a little ‘Kalahari’s Got Talent’ sing-song…
Oh to have night vision and a special protective bubble (like The Incredibles) and to wander about quietly and watch it all play out. It would be extraordinary!
Back in our camp, we set up our own entertainment fest, with what Tim has always called ‘Gecko TV’. It keeps us all riveted for hours and involves watching the flying ants, Christmas beetles and all manner of invertebrates fall prey to the ever vigilant little gang of geckos. These guys lurk in the tent flap and make the most of the feast that comes right to their doorstep – the solar powered light. Beetles, moths and flies – they’re just lambs to the slaughter.
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The entertainment factor is huge! We have ‘races’ – “My gecko got more than your gecko!”….
Sometimes we (Tim) have been known to cheat a bit. If one (Tim) stands with a torch up against the tent to encourage bugs to settle at the light stream, you can get ‘your’ gecko to guzzle more. A winning formula. They snap and crunch and munch, crispy wings protruding from their mouths, and you can just see their little bellies sag as the body count hits the 20′s.
Tim got so excited watching it all one night he decided to sample one of the bugs himself. Well, why the hell not? Good for a gecko, good for me! His conclusion?
“Hmm…..quite nice, actually!”
(Though it has to be said, he grabbed my gin and tonic and took a loud slurp to wash it all down….)
This little guy is a Cape gecko or Cape thick-toed gecko approaching his umpteenth hapless bug!