This post disappeared from the blog for some unexplainable reason! I’m going to recreate it from scratch as I feel that it was the whole reason we undertook this journey.
Joe and Pam Stallebrass were to have been with us. In fact Joe had asked us to accompany them and he did the advance bookings. Unfortunately Pam became ill just before our scheduled departure and they had to cancel.
Our route took us via Witsands Nature reserve in North Cape. On the way we encountered Sociable Weaver nests decorating the disused telephone poles from an earlier era.
The stop enabled us to acclimatize ourselves to extremely high temperature of the Kalahari at this time of the year – 42C !
I surprised Solveig by also making it to the top, just 5 months after a knee replacement.
The original reason for the two night stay was to give us an extra day to explore the Nature reserve. All we managed to do was spend almost the whole day in the swimming pool. It was too hot to hike around in the dunes.
Never the less, it was worth the detour. The reserve was very well managed and the shady campsites had water and electricity.
We entered Botswana at the MacArthy’s Rest / Tshabong border post later the next day and proceeded to Merry Bush Farm. The owner, Jill, recently widowed, was struggling to run the the place, which needed some TLC, on her own. We hoped she would succeed. We enjoyed our stay there and would support her when we pass that way again.
We travelled the Trans-Kalahari highway through Kang to Gweta, refueling there before entering the CKGR. The first section was good gravel which ended abruptly. The last 80kms to the Xade entrance gate, and our first camp, was in deep sand. The Cruiser’s diffs left a twin trail in the middelmannetjie.
Twiga’s Penthouse (our cruiser) coped well in high range 4×4, mainly in 3rd and 4th gear, occasionally having to drop to 2nd. Some welcomed rain showers cooled the parched land slightly. We never had to use low range during our entire stay.
Our first night was at Xade #1, about 5 kms from the entrance gate near the artifical waterhole. It was fed by a solar pump which only ran during daylight hours.
During the night we were woken by about 10 elephants rushing around the tree which we’d parked beneath, searching for water. Fortunately we had secured all liquids and fruit inside our vehicle. We were relieved when they eventually stormed off making lots of noise. So unlike elephants which are normally so quiet you hardly hear them.
At about 4:30 am we were again woken. This time by an awful crashing of metal and trumpeting a good distance away. Sound travels far when you are in such a silent environment.
In the morning we went back to the entrance gate to ablute and found what the nights noise had been about……
We were thankful that they never found anything in our camp earlier that night!
We spent most of the day in the air conditioned comfort of our vehicle. The outside temperature was 42° C !
Early the next morning we set off to our next two night campsite at Piper Pan. With numerous stops for photopgraphs it took us most of the day to cover the roughly 80 kilometer distance through thick sand.
We heard the rare sound of a vehicle passing our camp and rushed out waving and shouting, thinking that it might be Pam and Joe. A HiLux resembling theirs dissappeared off in the distance on the road around the pan! Then the HiLux returned in our direction and our expectations rose. However, it was a kind couple from Germany in a rented vehicle. They had seen us running after them and thought we may be in trouble so came back to investigate.
Sue and Pieter had given us a container of sprouts which we’d been nurturing and were looking forward to enjoying with our salad that evening!
The two unfenced Piper Pan campsites, located a few kilometers apart, comprised of a simple setup of a firepit, long drop toilet in a shelter and a similar structure with a shower bucket, but no water at all. You had to provide your own from your precious supply.
We had never before experienced such a oneness with nature. The complete freedom we felt, removed from our daily comforts and completely on our own……. to observe how the animals, birds and insects existed side by side and were all dependant on one another for their very existence in this harsh environment.
Water was the most important resorce for all creatures.
The campsites, although basic, were all situated in beautiful surroundings. Another feature of the landscape was the “tree islands ” on the pans..
On day 6 we calculated that our water was going to run out before we completed our stay. On our arrival the gate officials recommended that we should have 10 litres water per person per day with us. A total of 160 liters!! We had 120 litres which would have to be enough. We had no more space.
So we took a trip of 90 kilometers (and back) to the exit gate to get water instead of a game drive. It took the whole day!! We also had a taste of the road that lay ahead. The worst sand of our entire stay. At least we knew it was doable!
We could only get 15 litres of water as their well was dry and they were shipping water in from Maun.