Sunday, April 29, 2012

What to take on a 4x4 safari ...

What one takes on a trip like the one we have just completed is quite confusing for the first timer and one ends up taking way too much and this detracts from the enjoyment almost as much as not having something that would really make life much easier.  The more you take the more you have to pack and unpack and the more difficult it is to find anything. The less you take the greater the chance is that you have left something behind that you will really need so packing is bit of a balancing act which sometimes does not have a right and a wrong.

We found that packing lists are highly dependent on at least the following factors:
  • Where one is going
  • How long one is going for
  • Who we are
  • What the weather will be like
  • What facilities will be available
  • How difficult the trip will be
  • What the menu is

... and those are just off the top of my head, the point is that each trip will have different mixture of requirements so I don't think that having one packing list is actually possible.  What we have done is to consolidate several packing lists detailing if, in our opinion, something is essential and, after the fact, if we used it as well as some rationale behind the items.

The packing list is published with a disclaimer that at the end of the day what one takes and, just as importantly, leaves behind is ones' own responsibility.  The section on medical is more complicated than necessary but what we tried to do after the fact is break it into supplies that need to be taken on the left hand side and the ailments that they address across the top.  We are not doctors so don't take our word for anything, use common sense and ask your own doctor if you are unsure.

The document is based in part on the following packing lists :
  • Map Studio 4x4 routes
  • The complete guide to four-wheel drive
  • The 4x4 safari cookbook
as well as my own packing lists and common sense.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Central Kalahari, Zeerust to home

Water consumption, Drinking : Who cares!
Water consumption, Washing : Who cares!
Fuel consumption : I care but at least it is back down to a more normal 11l/100km

Woke up after spending the night stuck in the hole that is in the middle of the mattress.  They really need to change these mattresses, I ended up sleeping with the edge of the bed in the middle of my back so that the bed had some support in it.  In spite of this we had a really good nights sleep and after a great breakfast were were off.

Caron, graeme, gill and myself had a bit of a philosphical discussion after breakfast since we weren't in anything of a rush, I forget what we talked about but I was surprised that we hadn't had that type of conversation before on the trip.  I think that the amount of work and energy that goes into a trip like this is something the guide books simply don't mention; it is not an easy holiday.  If you aren't driving then you're making something to eat, eating it, or washing up; it didn't leave a huge amount of time for everyone to just sit back and relax which is something I would change on future trips by spending an extra day in each camp.  Especially after a hard days travel.

We were just passing Rustenberg when the first phone call arrived and all the cares and worries of regular life came flooding back.  I hadn't realised that I had completely left work and normal life behind which, for me, is the mark of a great holiday.

My conclusion, it ain't an easy trip but it is absolutely worth the effort.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Central Kalahari, Mahurushele to Zeerust

Water consumption, Drinking : 30l
Water consumption, Washing : 55l
Fuel consumption : Fuel gauge shows just below half.

The long trek back home began today.  One thing one can't do is to attempt a trip like this and be worried about very long hours in the car; the car is a part of the experience, not the means with which to get to the experience.

When graeme was packing up the rooftop tent he noticed that the one bracket holding the tent onto the roofrack had broken so he spent some time securing the rooftop tent with some tie downs.  We were a bit worried about the distance today so caron was champing at the bit as is her custom while graeme packed up and fixed.

Since the next stop as far as fuel is concerned is a fuel station I emptied the remaining jerry can into the tank just before we left.

Instead of taking the direct route to the gate we decided to take a little bit of a detour around the southern section of the park which was a very nice way to remember the park; we didn't see too much game but having our last sight of the pans was fantastic.  It's hard to describe, it's just a flat area with grass on it surrounded by trees but this description, although correct, does not describe the experience adequately.  There is something undefineable that turns it from a grass field with buck on it into an unforgettable experience.

At the one water hole we stopped at james was walking on the rock between the water and the mud and lost his balance or missed a footing and fell into the mud so there was a little todo for a while before he recovered his humour.
 Graeme and child off to scare the springbok.
Gill having one last look at the last of the pans within Khutse park.

Once out of the park I didn't inflate the tyres until we actually got to the tar which turned out to be a very good idea, some of the district roads were a little worse for wear.  We arrived at the tar and filled up at the petrol station which was pretty simple; they even had 50ppm diesel but they didnt' have card facilities so we were thankful to have had cash to use.  Since we last filled up in Mopipi we have done 972km on 130l of fuel giving an average consumption of 13.37l/100km which isn't too bad at all.  We had 30l left in the tank so we would have easily had enough to get to the next town if this filling station hadn't had fuel.  Nevertheless, it was nice to have a full tank again.

After inflating the tyres again which went pretty quickly but is more difficult than one expects because the temperature of the tire has a bearing on the pressure so I did the opposite of what I did before; just added 1/2 a bar to whatever pressure it happened to be.  We were a bit worried about when the border which we reached at about 19:00 but it turned out that it was open until midnight.  The border times marked on the map that we had and one the map that graeme had were different so we changed the border post we were going to use.

Saturday afternoon/evening seems to be the social event of the week because we drove past numerous taverns each packed to the rafters with people having a good time and a drink or 2,3,4,5 ...  Glad to be driving past now and not when they try to go home; the botswana driving is atrocious enough without alcohol thrown into the mix.

Going through Tlokweng border post was a walk in the park, no queues at all.  The personnel on both sides of the border fairly leapt onto their chairs to serve us as we walked into the border post which means that it must have been a very quiet day indeed.

The drive from the border post to Zeerust was uneventful other than one anxious moment when a oncoming car veered into our lane but other than that we arrived in Zeerust very tired but safe.

The Bed and Breakfast made a really nice change; lots of hot water and no cooking or washing up to be done.  We thought that the highway and train noise might keep us up because both are very close to the B&B but we didn't hear a thing.  As soon as our head hit the pillow we were out for the count.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Central Kalahari, Mahurushele campsite

Water consumption, Drinking : 26l
Water consumption, Washing : 30l
Fuel consumption : Fuel gauge shows just below half.

Had a great nights sleep punctuated by trips to take a leak due to the amount of water I drank yesterday but the temperature was cool and the sleeping bag warm.  The campsite is under some really big trees which give only dappled shade so I rigged up our awning to give us some solid shade during midday when we will need it.  Had a very nice cup of coffee while I spent a couple of hours writing up the blog while the boys took it in turns to crush cans.  They haven't been able to do it for a couple of days because we have been travelling but today is an easy day and they took to it with gusto.

Seeing as we were having a lazy day, the menu for the morning was diced asparagus and tomato scrambled eggs which was delicious and after that was cleared away we managed to do absolutely nothing the entire day until the heat of the day had dissipated.

Graeme and the boys found a dead tree branch and dragged it into camp and the boys had great fun trying to chop it up with an axe which did work after a fashion.  The problem came in when they stripped the tree of all the smaller branches which meant a covering of thorns on the ground; not such a good idea as we found out.  Graeme and I spent about 45minutes carefully collecting all the twigs and thorns and putting them on a bonfire that james created but graeme definitely won't be collecting branches like that again.

I had to run the car for a couple of hours because we were down to 40% already for some reason, I'm not sure why.  It's a bit annoying having the chug, chug of the diesel in the background but I would rather keep the fridge going properly.  I tried to estimate how much fuel is used when idling and it appears to equate to 4km/hr or approximately 1/2 a litre per hour.
The picture above gives some indication of what the bushes do, when we left johannesburg, there were no scratches on this sticker.
Caron spent most of the day wandering around the camp looking for birds while Gill read something in the shade of the tent and sometimes I'm not so sure she was actually reading.

Although it was very tempting to do nothing the entire day we felt that we really should do something so we carried the table and drinks and snacks to the middle of the pan much to Caron's consternation.  She was worried about lions after our scare the previous evening but given that the gemsbok and the springbok were unflustered, we took that as a sign that all was well.  I guess that predators specialise in keeping prey unflustered until the very last moment but it does give one a comforting feeling having them around and calm.  Having sundowners on the middle of these pans is going to be one the memorable memories of the trip.  We spent quite some time watching a family of bat eared foxes that were vroettling around looking for food we presume.

Back at the campsite shortly after dark we made a fire with lots of wood since we don't really have any restrictions anymore and we don't want to go back with wood.  James, the younger one, has taken to making fires with alacrity and it's very interesting to see how he copies the adults in how they go about doing things.  As a result, we had a really huge fire for the evening which was a fitting way to end our last night in the bush.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Central Kalahari, Xaka to Mahurushele

Water consumption, Drinking : 20.5l
Water consumption, Washing : 15l used since we filled up in Xade
Fuel consumption : Fuel gauge shows just below full.
The campsite looks so different in the daylight, instead of feeling very closed in the site is actually quite open and although there are some really nice trees to park under, they aren't that great for shade so a decent awning would be a necessity if one was to camp here for a day. 
It turns out that the campsite is right next to a waterhole which we completely missed in the darkness last night and there was definitely paw prints over our tyre tracks so the cat passed within 50m of the campsite but the paw prints were only about 10cm from toe to pad which is a bit small for a lion.  It may have been a leopard or a small lion or a different cat altogether;  none of us are quite sure beyond the fact that adrenalin can really make one move very fast indeed.  There were also older lion spoor around but these were close to 20cm toe to pad which would have been a really big lion.

The shower water I had laboriously prepared the previous evening and to which I was looking forward to in the morning was stolen by caron who said that it was great.  I'm sure it was, but it would have been nice to have been under it as well.  So, dirty for another day travelling.  Grumble, grumble ...

Due to the lack of amentities I dug quite a fetching his and hers on the one side of the camp where there was a nice view of the bushveld.  Taking down the shower tent which went up so easily was beyond us; there is obviously a trick to it but we didn't have time to figure it out and rolled it up as best we could and shoved it in.  By 09:00 we were on the road for another big day which finished at 19:30 when we finally arrived at Marushele in the dark again in the Khutse game reserve which adjoins the Kalahari Central one.  We have yet to arrive in a place other than after dark which just means that our powers of estimation as far as time goes is extremely poor.  I guess at least we are now expert camp erectors in the dark.

The road was pretty much the same as yesterday, deep sand and lots of bushes knocking the stuffing out of my paintwork. There must have been a huge fire here a couple of years ago because lots of bushes are burnt but often coming back to life amazingly enough.

We stopped at Bape for lunch which would make a very nice overnight stop and is right next to a river although that could be a bit misleading.  A river here means a dry river bed but at least one can see that it really is a river bed that has banks on it unlike the rest of the scenery which is quite anonymous.

It was at Bape that we had a near minor disaster, graeme had tied their clothes bags onto the back of the landcruiser to make space in the back for the kids to play and with all the bouncing, one of the these had come loose and dropped off somewhere.  Graeme thought it must be within the last 15km because they had to stop because james was car sick and it was still there at that point so rather than have two boys in the same clothes for 3 days, graeme went back to find them.  We still had a long way to go so we decided that 30 minutes out was the limit and fortunately for us he found them lying in the middle of the road at 9km back much to gill's great relief.  While graeme was bouncing his way back we had a leisurely lunch on the bread that caron made last night with the remains of the tomato, lettuce, cheese and tuna along with generous helpings of mayonnaise.  We are all amazed at how well the fresh vegetables like tomato and lettuce are lasting; it has been much longer than anyone expected.  When graeme returned we were off for the last of the long drives in the reserve.

The going was particularly tough on some of the sections and even at 10-15km per hour it felt like the whole car was on a trampoline and everything in the car would lift off, including us, and crash back down.  So the bumps along with the thick sand made progress very slow and we only arrived at camp at 19:30, after dark yet again, and it wasn't long before camp was set up.  We're getting quite good at it now and we have two days here so we can look forward to an easy restful day tomorrow.  Graeme and I swapped cars for a brief period of time just so that we could experience what it was to drive the other car and it was quite a different experience.  The landcruiser feels like it drives through the sand whereas the fortuner feels like it drives on top of the sand.  Both are very comfortable at between 20-30km/hr and both need to slow to 10-15km/hr on the bumpy section.  The fortuner pitches more than the landcruiser, probably because of the wheelbase, and has a softer ride over some of the smaller rough stuff.

The temperature today was around 35 deg again and unlike yesterday I just couldn't seem to drink enough, I just seemed to be constantly thirsty.  We couldn't get the GPS coordinates nor a map showing Marushele from the booking office so we were hoping that there would be lots of signs but of course, the signs all assume you are coming from the Main gate but in the end it was actually quite easy.  Just not great driving around in the dark trying to find the campsite so for the record, the coordinates of Marushele are S 23 deg 17.060, E 24 deg 23.392.
For supper we had baked potatoes on the fire with a asparagus and a hollandise'ish sauce on top.  Absolutely delicious; I must say that the catering has been outstanding, we have had excellent meals every meal.  We spent some time around the campfire after the boys had gone to bed before I had my long anticipated shower which was excellent.  The wind has a bit of a chill to it so if one isn't actually under the hot water it is quite chilly but the feeling of being clean was worth it.  Turned into bed tired and clean, a good combination.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Central Kalahari, the trek to Xaka

Water consumption, Drinking : 17l
Water consumption, Washing : 45l
Fuel consumption : 1/2 tank left.

Today started with the alarm clock at 05:00; it was like being back at work but with a long drive ahead, we had to.  Amazingly, by 06:30 we were on the road and watched the sun climb over the horizon as we made our way south to Xaka.

The drive is only about 220km but the majority of it has to be driven in second gear at about 20-30km per hour so it was a very, very long day and we only drove into Xaka at 20:00.  About 12hours of actual driving time if one excludes the stops for breakfast and lunch.

The scenery driving south is just spectacular and because we had a long way to go we weren't really looking for game so we saw lots of it staring with a very good sighting of a male lion lying just off the road in the shade of a bush.  Caron was now happy, she had seen the calamari lions.  He was just sort of dozing until the kids made a noise in the car and jumped around a bit at which point the lion became instantly alert and interested.  That lasted about 30 seconds before he lost interest and dozed off again.  We had passed a game ranger about 10km before we saw the lion who was tracking him, I wonder if he ever did find him.  We also had nice sightings of a large herd of giraffe and loads of gemsbok and springbok and we also had a nice sighting of a trio of black backed jackals.
 I can just imagine the conversation going something like "Hey ma, do you think that if we can't see them, then they can't see us?"

We had planned to have breakfast at the Letihau water hole but there was a herd of resident wildebeest so we moved on and had breakfast just south of there on the side of the road.  We had just started moving again when caron saw some springbok watching something very intently and sure enough, there was a lioness having a lazy day in the shade of a bush.  I'm sure that there were more in the thick bush behind the lioness but we couldn't see anything.  The lions here are in very good nick, they look well fed as do the buck so although the terrain is quite barren, the game seems to be thriving.  Caron finally identified the bird she was struggling to identify as the Southern pale chanting goshawk; it's very frustrating not being able to identify something.  She also spotted a nice tawny eagle.

As we drove south we passed Piper pan which looks like a really good place to spend a couple of days, I think that the next time we come we should spend three nights in each location.  South of piper pan the pans get smaller and more arid which is what I was expecting but after we had passed the pans, the bush got thicker and thicker; my car's paintwork will never be the same.

The four photographs above are a panoramic view moving from left at the top to right at the bottom and were taken just south of Pipers pan.

Lunch was spent on the side of the road in the shade of graeme's pull out awning which is a pretty nifty thing to have but like roof top tents it has both positives and negatives in that it is very convenient to put up and take down, unlike the rooftop tent, but it has to be attached to the car and if the car is the wrong way around because of where you want the back of the car, then the awning would be on the sunny side instead of the shady side.  The pan where we stopped was quite desolate and there were a couple of gemsbok in the distance watching us suspiciously.

Quite near Xade we passed a burnt out jeep wrangler which we had to stop for, the fire was so intense that the mag wheels caught on fire and there was molten mag wheel on the portions of the wheel which were left.  Graeme starting taking the grass issue far more seriously after this example of what could happen to a car if it caught fire.

We finally arrived at Xade at 15:30 and spent an hour refueling and filling up the water.  We made Xade without putting in extra fuel from the jerry cans but we wouldn't have made it much further.  I put 60l of diesel from the jerry cans into the tank leaving me with 20l spare.  I happened to have bought jerry cans from two different stores and the pouring spout fitted on one but not on the other.  I should be able to modify it to work on both but I really shouldn't have to do that; it should just work but like so much else these days one has to modify new stuff in order to make it work properly.  It's very annoying!  I put my head under the tap which was very refreshing, graeme went and had a proper cold shower much to carons' annoyance.  We still had almost 90km to go and it was already past 16:00 so we really needed to get going as soon as possible.  The temperatures here are strange, the car says that it is 35 deg but it doesn't feel like it, it feels comfortably hot although if you stand in the sun for a while it gets really hot.  We now have loads of water for the next three days; it would have been a really tough three days if the tap had been out of commission.  We also took the opportunity to restore our washing water reserves up to a full 60l from the tap at Xade which means we can look forward to lots of water in the next 3 nights for showers.

From Xade it was a straight run to Xaka and if I thought that the sand was thick in the run up to Xaka, it got a whole lot thicker on this section and the hills just never seem to end.  One feels as though one is continuously driving up a gentle hill.  The sun had set by the time we took the turn off to Xaka which appeared to be very overgrown and close in the darkness.  Ahead of us we saw some eyes and slowed down to see what it was, a caracal lynx which was a great sighting and just as it was about to jump out of the road it must have heard the rustling of a small rodent getting out of the way because it moved like lightning and then sat for a moment in the road with the rodent in it's mouth.  An hour later we arrived at the campsite and set up camp quite quickly and had pasta with a tomato and mushroom concoction which was really delicious.

The Xaka camp has absolutely no amenities so I had to make use of our shower curtain for the first time which proved to be very easy to setup.  We had just finished supper and all four of us were doing the dishes listening to the lions calling in the distance and commenting about how great it was when something roared or growled very close to us.  By the time Caron said "Lion, into the cars" all four of us where already halfway there leaving a cloud of soap suds in the air.  The adrenalin was pumping and all of us felt a little bit wobbly but after about 20 minutes we could hear the calls moving south around the camp and we figured it was ok to come out and finish the dishes while someone kept a lookout but nobody wanted to go and take a shower with the nice warm water I had already made; the shower was a little way out of camp and felt very exposed so we all went to bed a little dirty but intact.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Central Kalahari, Deception Campsite and Sunday Pan

Water consumption, Drinking : 13l
Water consumption, Washing : 35l
Fuel consumption : 1/2 tank left.

Woke up late, graeme awoke very late; he only emerged from his beauty sleep at about 09:30 just in time for the pancake breakfast which the ladies had kindly made for us.  Unlike at passarge, there was nary a bee to be seen which was a relief.  I don't know if it is our newfound regimen or that there just happen to not be any bees around here but either way; it's good for me.

Deception Valley campsite.  There are actually several of them but this gives a good indication of what they are like.  Note the long drop and the shower in the background.  Very nicely designed and made I must say.

The morning was spent lazing around doing admin stuff like writing the blog up, fixing things and repacking stuff.  We are starting to get ourselves sorted out and a semblance of organisation.  I'm not officially OCD but sometimes I really wonder.  The bash plate which I removed last night is a bit of a problem because it is a very awkward size and shape but we were lucky and there was a perfect hole under the roof top tents on graeme's card which we managed to squeeze it into after loosening a few bolts.  Now I wait to see it I stop attracting grass by the bushel and shake my "Rolux Magnum" nickname.

My morning chore was to make the bread for todays as well as tomorrows lunch.  I have never made bread before so it was a little bit of an experience, I liked the kneading; it was very therapeutic.  Bread making is quite a process, do this and then wait, do something else and wait some more but at last it was done and we popped it into the oven and 45minutes later we had a great batch of fresh bread rolls.  It was a great success and now we wait to see how they fare until tomorrows lunch.

We had planned to take an afternoon drive up to Sundays and Leopard pans for sundowners but left a little late and spent too much time having sundowners so we never really had a good look at Leopard pan which we have now passed twice, both times in the dark.
 Sundowners at the Sundays Pan waterhole.  I had a hearstopping moment when I thought I had fed a bacon kip into my turbo chargers intercooler.  That would not have been very cool at all but fortunately the designers foresaw little whoopsies like this and there was no harm done.
The water hole at Sundays is an artificial waterhole serviced by a solar panel powered pump.  Graeme saw the water and immediately filled up one of his jerry cans with green slimy water which was so salty that it made sea water taste unsalted.  Later when graeme and gill were showering there were cries of pain from the shower cubicle, firstly because gill likes her showers hot and it scalded graeme's sensitive skin and secondly, some of the salty water got into their eyes and stung like mad.

We knew that tomorrow was going to be a very long day so we packed as much as we possibly could up in the evening so we only got to bed at about 12:00 which means a truncated sleep.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Central Kalahari, Passarge Valley

Water consumption, Drinking : 9l
Water consumption, Washing : 25l
Fuel consumption : 3/4 tank left.

We only have to drive about 30km to the next campsite but I thought it would be much nicer to take the long drive and go down the Passarge valley, around Tau pan and then to the Deception valley campsite, a distance of just over 100km.  It was a good plan but things have a habit of taking longer than expected out here.

Before we left camp I popped my head under the car, mostly because I had read that grass was a problem, and to my horror found several birds nests of grass stuck in the bottom of the car and it wouldn't take much for the exhaust to light this.  I had to drive up onto the concrete fire place into order to be able to crawl under the car and get as much out as I could.  The bash plate which I had so laboriously installed seems to be a very efficient grass mower and graeme and gill started making jokes about 'rolux magnum' and how I am mowing the kalahari, renaming me to 'rolux roland'.  The sheer amount of grass which I managed to pick up in such a short space of time was real cause for concern.  By the time I had finished I was absolutely filthy even though I used a groundsheet; if it wasn't for the groundsheet I think caron would not have allowed me back into the car.

We finally got onto the road at 10:00 which was quite late but I thought that 120km at 30km/hr would be four hours, how wrong I was.  The time I didn't count on was the amount of time we spent looking at game, we saw amazing sightings of gemsbok, giraffe, a whole pack of bat eared foxes, a black backed jackal, lots of ground squirrels and a lone wildebeest.  We also saw lots of birds a couple of which are evading identification much to carons annoyance and my mirth.  Caron was really looking forward to seeing the lions but although we heard them calling quite clearly last night, they were nowhere to be seen and the game were looking very relaxed so I don't think they are close anymore.  It's quite an experience to hear lions calling and know that there is absolutely nothing between them and you, they could literally get to within 30m of the campsite without being seen.
The gemsbok were very skittish and it was quite difficult to get close enough to them to get a decent photograph.
A giraffe showing off its ungainly gait which passes for a run.  Although it looks like everything is happening in slow motion, they actually cover the ground pretty quickly.
A rather well endowed ground squirrel.  I wonder if he is showing off?
A pack of bat eared foxes was very interesting to see especially how they play with each other.
More gemsbok, it turned out that there were lots of them and in spite of the dryness, they all looked pretty heathy to us.
A black backed jackal crossing the road after carefully looking left and right.  If the animals in the park can get this right, why can't the cows and donkeys outside the park?

We stopped for lunch at Passarge #3 and found 4l of water left in the shower; I'm really going to enjoy my extra long shower this evening while the people that forgot it are going to be doing without theirs.  We had actually been planning on being at deception for lunch so we were a bit unprepared but there was enough fresh lettuce, tomatoes and that with some tinned salmon made for a very delicious lunch thanks to the rolls which graeme and gill kindly gave to us.

From lunch we headed around tau pan and then made a dash for the campsite which we arrived at in daylight but only just!  Before we lit a fire I checked the car for grass again and I have a real problem.  The amount of grass which I am picking up is just incredible, graeme by contrast is only collecting a couple of hands full.  I made a decision to remove the bash plate since I can't really see me hitting any rocks and anything has to be better than the rate at which I am currently collecting grass.  Not only that but with the bash plate in place, it is really difficult to clear the grass out.  I'm not sure where I am going to stow the bash plate but I can't see removing it making things worse.

The endless vistas where one just drives and drives without seeing anything which is man made is an experience which is somehow beneficial for the soul, whatever that actually is I don't know but everyone knows what I mean.
 An example of a "Tree Island" which are patches of trees surrounded by an ocean of grass.  We don't know why they grow there, it must be some kind of soil change or have access to water or something.  There were often tracks with no entry signs in front of them leading to these islands so they obviously make great campsites.  We had some fun joking about "meals on wheels" (tourists) arriving at the islands as a delicacy for the calamari lions.
For some reason, one can just keep on looking over the pans even when there is nothing on them.
Check out the heat haze obscuring the scene.  I really like the effect it gives to the photograph.
Daniel riding on top.  Officially this is a no, no and I think justifiably so.  The roads are very bumpy and it wouldn't take too much to dislodge someone on the roof and it is a very long way down to the ground.  Unfortunately it's great fun and you can see what appears to be forever from the top of the car.

Supper was vegetarian stew which was very tasty possibly as a result of the 1/2 bottle of rupert and rothschild that we had in it.  Although the day was quite long and the children were completely knackered I am starting to feel much better.  We tried a new ploy for washing clothes and when we had our luxurious shower we stood in a basin with the clothes in and used the shower water and a bit of stomping to was the clothes, it seems to work quite well.  Climbed into bed tired and happy.
There just seems to be so much sky here, even more than at home and orders of magnitude greater than in europe.
 He takes her taking him taking her ...
On the edge of Tau pan.  Tau means lion in the local language but I think that they are confused, there were no lions to be seen anywhere on the pan.

These trees right on the edge of the Tau pan look like they are made to have campsites underneath them.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Central Kalahari, Bee Day

Water consumption, Drinking : 1.5l
Water consumption, Washing : 10l
Fuel consumption : 3/4 tank left.

In the kalahari at last and after yesterday we all pretty much decided to take it easy for the day.  As it turned out it was a pretty busy day but not in the way that we expected.
Caron and gill banished all the boys to the great smoke (the toilets) while they hid all the easter eggs after which we had a kalahari easter egg hunt which the kids really enjoyed.

First up was the daily chores of washing the dishes from the previous night and we noticed a few bees but nothing exceptional and then we did something which we probably aren't going to be doing again because we just can't afford the water.  Water consumption here is going to be a really big issue especially towards the end of the trip I think.  The washing of the clothes attracted more bees, I think that the moisture attracts them and then the rubbish which we had left a little way from camp was just swarm of bees; this would not particularly have concerned me two months ago but now that I know that I am allergic as in hospitalisation type allergic, it was a little disconcerting.

I ran the car for a couple of hours to charge the battery as well as carons' phone, iPad and my laptop, all of which had reached the end of their battery life.  So while it was charging I wrote up yesterdays blog which took some time to finish, I must be out of practice.  While I was busy writing Caron made our first batch of homemade beer bread which was very successful and which we had for lunch.

We had a very nice lunch as the bee issue just got worse and worse and I had a scary moment when one flew up my shirt and much to my amusement, one flew up graeme's pants.  At this point I changed into longs and tucked my shirt in but it was only a matter of time before someone was stung.  We had just decided that the problem had to be addressed when gill was stung which just emphasised the urgency so I stood to one side while graeme and caron built a fire and systematically burnt all the rubbish even the cans and the plastic and the food scraps; everything.  Normally I wouldn't burn the plastic but there isn't water to clean it so the only alternative is to incinerate it and as soon as we had done this, the bees pretty much disappeared.  Much to my relief, I wasn't really enjoying the experience.  So lesson number one in the kalahari; wash up the dishes as soon as possible after a meal and incinerate all rubbish as soon as possible to provide as little incentive for the bees to find you and then go and call all their mates.

We decided to emerge from our lethargy and go and have sundowners on the closest pan which was a really amazing experience.

We parked the cars and had a gin and tonic or glass of wine with the oysters and cheese on snacks while we watched the sun descend over the distant horizon.  The horizon here feels much further away and the sky much bigger than at home.  It was quite magical.  On the way to and from the sundowners we saw a couple of bat-eared foxes which was very nice.

Back at the bee-free camp we had another fire and cooked a chicken and vegetarian chicken nuggets for caron and myself.  Along with the nuggets I had sweet potato mash, a salad and a onion cooked in the fire.  Very delicious and even better, we had a hot shower lined up afterwards.  The gas water heater which I thought was going to be a bit of a luxury is turning out to be a virtual necessity because we use it for washing up as well.  I guess one could heat water on the fire but it so much easier to use the gas heater.
The light shining through the trees is the moon rising, pretty cool!