Day 6 - 5 Sept 2013
Once again we are up and about just after dawn. It is a warm morning, and we need to break up camp again. Back to Mpaya-1 where we came from. Our solar showerbag finds the perfect home, on the bonnet, where the sun heats it from the top and the engine from below. This is the first time we used a solar shower and it worked great! The water was warm anough for a nice shower and we managed to squeeze more than 2 showers out of the 20 liter bag. In the end we managed 2 showers each on one bag of water. We drove up the Khiding Pan road again to look for the pride of lions we saw the previous day, but they moved on. Here is the turn-off towards Nossob on the RSA side of Kgalagadi. As we neared Mpaya Pan 2 ladies in a Prado came from the front and we started chatting. There was a pride of lions up ahead, blocking the road. They managed to squeeze past. The lions just killed a gemsbok and was busy eating. We were very excited!! About 3km further up the road, this is what we saw! After sitting there watching them for about an hour, they cleared the road and as we drove off this little one waved goodbye... See ya later!! This was exactly 1.9km from where we would be camping for the next 2 days. Excitement mounted as we set up camp. We knew they would be passing thru our campsite that nite, as the water hole is right on the other side of our campsite. And anybody who has ever had a belly full of gemsbok on a warm sunny day, will know how thirsty that makes you!! We planned our setup better this time, blocking off the one entrance to the A-frame using the Hilux with the RTT entrance easily accessible from inside the barricade. It was still early and we knew the cats wouldn't be coming along any time soon, so we relaxed a little, but we kept an eye on the road. I even had to to set the solar panels up to charge the deep cycle battery And out field expert had time to shave her legs for the occasion. The ground squirrels were amazed at the sight and called all their little friends to come and watch... Every now and then people came along and asked us if we knew about the lions. That way we got feedback on their position until late in the afternoon. We made a fire on the open side of the A-frame, had a braai. Once again we were ready for bed by the time the sun set, and as I walked towards the back of the A-frame something told me to look up...... There he was, etched against the evening skyline. A young male lion waiting for the rest of the pride to come along the road. Barely 20m away from me. I got ice cold from head to toe, and told E to move her freshly shaven legs and get in the RTT. In a flash we were up there, adrenalin pumping. By now it was quite dark, and as she shone the flashlight up the road we saw the eyes reflecting the light. I only managed to get 2 shots off with the camera in all the confusion.. It was such a rush, sitting there on the RTT ladder with the lions walking past me barely 5m away. All in all we counted 12 lions in the pride.... And as soon as it started it was over again. They disappeared into the bushes towards the water hole. All night long they were roaring, grunting and snoring less that 200m away from us. This was the highlight of our whole trip so far! We didnt sleep much that night... TBC............... Day 7 - 6 Sept 2013 Rest day at Mpaya-1. We decided because of all the to-ing and fro-ing of the past few days that we were going to hang around the A-frame all day long and spend time with the little guys. It's not all about the lions you know? Anyway they're such a noisy bunch we hardly slept a wink the night before with all their gallivanting in the bushes at all hours.. Who do they think they are?? The king of the jungle?? Some of the tracks thru our camp the next morning... See the grey-green bush on the left? See the little hill beside the bush, next to the road? That is where the bugger stood when I first became aware of them the night before.... Anyway, the lions were down at the water hole, we could see them with our binoculars, but they were too far away to photograph. We walked around the campsite a bit more and found this interesting tree. It looks like the trunk gets climbed regularly by some big cat, and on the flat branches to the left it looks like there was some kind of "nest" with grass padding. Could this tree be a base camp for a leopard? From this tree the view over the pan is spectacular, a perfect place to spy on potential prey? I dont know leopards well enough, maybe somebody can help us out here... Our field expert also had time to wash her hair.. "just because were camping does not mean we have to live like savages"... Herds of blue wildebeest crossed the pan during the day. On their way to the water hole, despite the lions being there.. And the vultures also came out to play... Besides the occasional roar from the bushes we didnt have any more lion action at Mpaya-1. But it didnt mean we let our guard down. It was back into the same old routine. Shower-hour at Mpaya-1 Damn she's quick!! The little one came out to say goodnight.. And another perfect sunset on a relaxing Kalahari day... TBC............. Days 8 & 9 - 7/8 Sept 2013 And so dawn breaks over our last day at this magical place. We thoroughly enjoyed our 4 days in Mabuasehube, even though we were scared witless most of the time, We will most definitely return, and stay longer, because it is well worth it. Once we broke up camp a very sick sounding dark blue 1989 Hilux D/C pulled up and out jumped a German couple. The guy was looking for water for the radiator. Water was pouring out the bottom of the radiator. he opened the bonnet and I saw that a 5MGE motor was fitted and that water was pushing out from the radiator cap. One engine mounting was non existent and the air-intake pipe was patched with duct tape. Wonderful stuff that!! The tap at our campsite was dry, so I sent him off to the Scout Camp about 2km up the road, where there were water tanks. We got going and at the gate we turned towards the north following a very wide sand road, and we made very good progress. About 30km before Hukuntsi the road took a turn for the worst. Potholes and ruts like you wont believe, but we took the sand track on the side, whice was not too bad. From Hukuntsi we were on tar again, all the way to Kang. At Kang we filled up with 500ppm diesel and I paid with my credit card. It was Saturday afternoon so all shops were closed. We were badly in need of some Vicks nasal spray, because our noses were blocked from the dust and the dry wind and we needed something to loosen the lot up. No luck here.. From Kang we continued north on the Trans kalahari Highway and stopped in at Kalahari Rest about 20km north of Kang. We got a nice campsite, and there were hot and cold running water, and flush toilets. We were very excited. Just a pity that the wind was getting a bit much. This dry northerly wind has been blowing in the afternoons for 2 days now. Mostly it was fine, but from time to time it came in quite strong gusts, blowing sand and dust into everything. We baked some bread again and had a late night watching the stars. Something we were to scared to do in Mabuasehube. We woke up the next morning and decided to stay another night... and we did.. we were alone in the entire campsite, and had the whole place to ourselves. While I was checking out the fridge in the morning to make sure everything was still frozen I noticed the left rear tyre was flat again. So Lappies's plug lasted all of 700km's. It was time for the spare to come on. Because we werent stuck next to the road, I took my time to change the wheel, but in the process the Hilux got a scratch from the Hi-Lift jack. Right on the side of the tailgate. Battle-scars.. Jacking up a fully loaded Hilux with any kind of jack is not an easy task, but it had to be done. During the afternoon the wind came up and our little dome tent said, "Enough!!" and promptly snapped one of its fibreglass poles. To top this the zip on the dome tent also decided that it didnt like the sand in its teeth and split wide open. Down came the tent and the fibreglass pole got "splinted" like a broken leg. The zipper we could not fix so we tried to close it up as much as we could. What was supposed to be a "rest day" turned into a work day and we went to bed tired. TBC............ Day 10 & 11 - 9 & 10 Sept 2013 The wind was getting to us and we packed up in a hurry at Kalahari Rest. Under different circumstances it is a very nice place to stay, but we were moving on. North again towards Ghanzi. Not that we wanted to do anything major in Ghanzi, we were only having a little bit of a look-see. We saw the beat up blue Hilux at a garage in Ghanzi, but by the time I got our Hilux turned around and managed to dodge some taxi's and pedestrians, a goat and 4 chickens, he was gone again. I withdrew some Pulas for future use, and we had lunch alongside the road at the CKGR turn-off. We seriously contemplated taking that turn-off.... Back to the Trans Kalahari Highway, and we headed out west towards the Namibian border. Not much happening for the rest of the way, except that the border crossing was once again very quick and easy. Once over the border in Namibia, at Buitepos we found 50ppm diesel, not that we needed any, but a fellow Hiluxer from Lydenburg with a D4D filled up there. We made our way to Zelda Game and Guest Farm, where we booked into a room... and a little bit of white sheets luxury... and sit down dinner, with grilled kudu fillets, gemsbok meatballs, sweet potatoes, veggies etc etc and a few drinks with our new friends from Lydenburg... The next day after a hearty breakfast, we had our laundry done by the friendly Zelda staff and took off to Gobabis (or Go-Babies) as we called it, to have the Hilux cleaned and to buy some meat, billies and droee wors. The guys at Spandiens really had their work cut out for them to rid the Hilux from the mud we have been carting along from Ceres/Calvinia. But they employed their high pressure washer, and soon the Hilux was sparkling white again. We got our meat supplies from Die Plaaskombuis, and with all that excitement we were on our way back to Zelda. Zelda is a really nice place. The owners created a real oasis in the middle of nothing. They have a very neat and tidy camp site with electricity, running water and lawn under some thorn trees for shade. We enjoyed our stay here, and will be back for sure. The last few days.. After Zelda we wanted to challenge ourselves a bit again. Drive from Zelda to Koes in the south without driving through a single town. A distance of 550km. We had enough diesel to cover the distance, and enough padkos, water, clothes (all clean now) meat, and drinks to last us 4 days if not more... So we plotted a route as close to the Namibian border as possible. I'll have to upload the GPS file, because I cannot really describe it in words. The roads we travelled on ranged from fairly okay dirt roads to 2-spoor sand tracks to really bumpy and corrugated farm tracks with about 30 gates to open and close along the way. The scenery was spectacular. We were travelling on the road never travelled, let alone less travelled. Only the local farmers use these roads. Rest asured, the road we were on are all public roads. Not once did we venture onto private land. We ended up driving down the Nossob River bed. When we got to a place called Twee Rivier, we took a left in stead of a right... wrong!! Our Garmin has been acting up a little and started rebooting every now and then and somehow lost the route I programmed into it. But once we got to Twee Rivier I was confident that we would find our way to the farm. I need some more experience, okay? The first sign post we saw in ages told us that we are headed towards Mata-Mata, which is in the complete wrong direction. But there was a 2-spoor sand track leading off to our right. We took it.. and we ended up driving approx 70km along the best sand tracks in existence on the planet. The best gate in Namibia!! We were WAY behind schedule, we were out of fuel, but we didnt care... Somewhere along the way we had to refuel from the jerries on the roof, and we made the farm with only enough juice left to get us to Koes, 40km away. Sundowners on a dune.. After spending 2 nights with family on the farm we decided that we didnt want to go home yet, so we packed for Rosh Pinah, where E's cousin lives. We filled up at Koes with 500ppm. It was a long drive to Rosh Pinah, but on good roads. In Keetmanshoop we stopped for some family business, bought lunch, called home, and tackled the tar roads. With the cruise control set at 120km/h we went past the Fish River, Goageb and eventually Aus, where we turned off. 166km from that point and about 200 mining trucks from the front we pulled into Rosh Pinah. Groot braai wereld!! We were only going to stay for 1 night, but we were convinced to watch the Bokke play the All Blacks on Saturday morning, and then we were convinced to stay and watch WP play the Bulls... at the Lodge.. bad decision.. really bad.. The Four Seasons Lodge in Rosh Pinah is the place that a few years ago held the record for the highest consumption of Jagermeister... IN THE WORLD!!! Oh my WORD!! And seeing as WP won, and I was the only WP supporter in the bar, everybody bought Jagermeisters to congratultae me and to drown their sorrows.... Long story short, we got home way too late that nite... In stead of leaving Rosh Pinah the next morning at 08h00 to cross the border at Sendelingsdrift, we only got away at about noon. Way too late!! We filled up again with 50ppm diesel. Crossing the border was once again an easy affair, and putting the life jacket onto my potsierlike lyfie was more of a hassle than the ride on the pontoon.. I was still busy tying the straps when the guys came to collect it. From Sendelingsdrift we headed south towards Lekkersing, and hit the Port Nolloth/Steinkopf tar road. From there it was plain sailing until we hit the N7, and, of course, road works!! There's not much I can say about the drive from Steinkopf to Klawer. The N7 is as boring and predictable as a polititian's speech, but by the time we reached Klawer we were both ready for bed. Although we hoped to make it all the way to Cape Town we decided that the roadworks past Clanwilliam in the dark was not going to be a whole heap of fun so we found a bed for the night and slept over. Not being in a hurry to get home the next morning, we took it easy over the mountain to Piketberg, stopped in at the Spur for a good brekkie and drove the last stretch home. We were both coming down with a cold, and it was raining and cold in Cape Town again. Almost like when we left... 16 days after we left, we hit the Cape of Storms again. We had a fantastic trip, and got much more than we bargained for. We been to places where we havent been before, and that is always good. Will we do it again? At a moment's notice yes!! Summaries and own impressions to follow. Also what worked and what didn’t…. Inside Mabuasehube: We knew that there was no facilities at Mabuasehube, so we made sure we could sustain ourselves for the period we would be staying there. Water: There is water available from the East Gate campsite near the entrance gate. I would not drink it, unless it was an emergency, but it is good for washing and cleaning. We had 70 liters of wash-water and about 35 liters of drinking water on board, which ended up to be too much. At our campsite (Mpaya-1) there was also a tap at the basins with running water during the day. Because we didnt expect any water we didnt even check it, but our neighbours came to fill their water containers daily. At Mabua pan there was nothing, not even in the waterhole on the pan. Toilets: Each campsite does have a long-drop toilet. They are usable, but we had a checmical porta-potty. A-Frames: The guy who designed these things shoudl get a Nobel Prize. The A-Frames makes camping so much more convenient. It provides shelter and a certain amount of protection from the wilder members of the wildlife fraternity that frequents these places. Campsites: We only stayed at 2 campsites (Mpaya-1 and Mabua-4) and after having a look around these were really the prime spots. Campsites were clean, and we took all our rubbish out with us. There are rubbish bins, but they dont get cleaned out regularly. Roads: Sandy tracks, 4x4 not really required, and only closer to the gate does it become corrugated. Overall Experience: 12 out of 10. We will be back, this is one of those places that speaks to the brain-stem. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. Being that close to the big cats really defines our (humans) place in the bigger scheme of things. The campsites are not expensive. Our 4 nights cost us P460 and that included park and vehicle fees. Other places we stayed at: Carnavon Ikaya Self Catering Cottages A nice place to spend the night. Very neat, tidy and not outrageously expensive. Postmasburg Not much to say. R600 for a night in a motel room with nothing more than a shower and a toilet. Bit much, but we couldnt find anything else. McCarthy's Rest Cullinan Guest Farm. Very nice campsites, ablutions are clean with warm and cold running water. Electricity points at the camp site as well as an under cover cement slab to pitch your tent. Only R80 per vehicle per night, Kang Kalahari Rest P100 per person per night. Big campsites with wind breaks, Hot and cold running water in the ablutions. They had ice and firewood available free of charge. Buitepost Zelda Guest & Game Farm They charge a lot for their rooms, we paid R440pppn including breakfast. We got a room the size of a ballroom with 1 double and 2 single beds. Their meals are very good and not too expensive. The barman is friendly and gave us good pointers on where to get meat and biltong in Gobabis. A real oasis in the wilderness. Klawer - Oasis Emergency stop. The building is the old Klawer Primary School, and I think we slept in the headmaster's office. Also got a family room, because it was all they had. Coffee is included in the morning but no breakfast. We paid R580 for the night. The rest of the time we abused family privileges and stayed "for free"... Diesel 50/500ppm Botswana is still 500ppm country, but in Namibia 50ppm is available in most places. Only in Koes we didnt get 50ppm. Prices are on average about R1/l cheaper than in RSA. Consumption Our fuel consumption on average (according to the Hilux trip computer) was 8.8 km/l. I am super impressed with that, because we were loaded high and heavy. On the open tar roads, I stuck to the speed limits, I also used the speed control a lot. On dirt we were in 4H, sometimes with seriously deflated tyres in the sand. According to our records the Hilux was lighter on fuel than on our trip to Epupa falls last year, even though we had more stuff on the roof, and my driving style was exactly the same as then. What DIDNT work for us... Eazy-Awn Awning I fitted the awning for this trip. First time with the RTT as well. It messed up our whole camping setup, because the tent had to open to the right hand side and the whole Hilux is rigged so that we live from the left hand side of the vehicle. A small thing like that really caused lots of head-aches. All of a sudden I needed to take space on BOTH sides into consideration when I parked the vehicle, and sometimes space was not available. The awning was in my way, i knocked my head on it a few times, plus we ended up not even using it once! When we arrived in Rosh Pinah, I told Neef Andries about this and he took the awning off my hands right there and then. Saved me the trouble of carting it all the way home again and to advertise it on Gumtree. E's new Kitchen Crates No, no no. This does not work for us and is more of a hassle than a help. We never tested the new crate setup in controlled environment and this lead to many frustrations on this trip. I am working on an alternative plan to organise her stuff. Stef's Deep Cycle Battery No offence Stef. This battery didnt perform as expected. Luckily I had a back-up spare battery in the vehicle, as well as my solar panel setup to see us thru. I will write a seperate post on our power setup. Toyota's crappy OEM jack Throw it out. It is crap. You need to be a cross between a contortionist and Superman to get anything heavier than a butterfly jacked up with this thing. I ended up using it as an axle-stand, and even that was dangerous, as the contact patch between the top of the jack and the axle is very small and unstable. What DID work: Solar panels The 2 x 50W panels worked a charm. They kept the fridge running ice cold in the hot Kalahari sun. Shower Bag A first for us, and we are very impressed. GOMAD truck slide The slide worked wonders. No more hassle reaching in to the load bin from the sides to get hold of stuff, we just slided it out and there it was. Whatever it is. It is strong enough to handle the weight and worked without a problem. Cortina Flappies Enough said. Satelite phone Seeing as were were going solo we felt it necessary to have one of these with us. We didnt rent one, but Doron (the one with the FJ) was kind enough to let us use his Immarsat phone. We only used it for sending the odd SMS to family to let them know where we are, so the bill for usage shouldnt be too expensive. We would like to thank Gysie from GOMAD. For all the little bends and welds that he had to do on the spur of the moment to get our setup working. Also I gave his off-cuts bin a good workout!! And for the truck slide he built for us at a moments notice. Dawid Hurter (Withilux) for his input, the P50, Garmin routes and advice. The people from our neighbouring countries are friendly and helpful and they made us feel right at home. Thanks for welcoming us to your country and making us feel at home. It was a priviledge to be able to visit, and we will come again if you will have us. All those guys who waved back on the road.... This is where we sign off... Until next time...
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