Saturday, April 07, 2012

Central Kalahari, at last ...

A big day on the road and even though we all knew this, we still didn't time it very well.

We awoke at 06:00 all of us feeling very much better for having had a good nights rest and after breakfast we were packed and ready to leave by 08:30.  It took another 30 minutes to get some firewood so we were actually on the road at 09:00, leaving with a very favourable impression of the khama rhino reserve.  It's no wonder that it is a popular stop on the way up to botswana; we would definitely be interested in coming back here where the rhino reserve is the destination rather than just a stop over.

The roads today were almost devoid of cars but the cattle, donkeys and assorted other animal hazards as well as the subsidence were the same so caron drove for the first half of the day up to the lunch stop at a roadside picnic table just north of mopipi.

I spent the first couple of hours writing up my blog while caron drove and unlike yesterday we had nothing other than a few animals to slow down for which after yesterday was a pleasant surprise.  We had been planning to refuel and get some pula at orapa but when we got there the entire town is inside a restricted area and you have to have a permit in order to get in.  This would explain why the GPS was so insistent on taking the road around orapa instead of through it.  We spent some time on the side of the road while graeme finally sent a work document off; he had been working on it while gill was doing all the driving.  The document sent, graeme and gill could finally start their holiday.

Next stop was mopipi and if we couldn't get fuel there then rakops and if we couldn't get fuel there we were kind of buggered.  As it turned out there was fuel at mopipi and we could even use our credit cards to pay for it.  We didn't feel like having lunch in a filling station because it looks like the pictures below and there had been really nice picnic places all along the road up to mopipi so we decided to continue until the next one.
Shade is at a premium in Botswana in general and Mopipi in particular.

As it turned out the next one was a very long way out but we eventually found one and had a great lunch on the side of the road watching convoys of 4x4's either one their way home or on their way into botswana.  Some decidedly the worse for wear.
I just couldn't resist the litter and the juxtaposition of the sign on the rubbish bin.
Next stop was the matswere turnoff and this time the GPS was insisting on taking us through the centre of rakops instead of the 2km shortcut around rakops.  There is just no telling what these machines are thinking!  We stopped in the track to reduce the pressure in the tyres; the book says by 15% in one place and 50% in another so I am letting the tires down by 25% which is 0.5 bar.  It was a bit of a shock to find that the rear tyres which should have been at 2.1 bar were sitting at 2.8 bar due to the heat so I let them down to 2.3 which should translate to 1.6 when they have cooled down.  Hopefully!

And with that we were off on our Kalahari adventure having completed the long drive in.
I know this shouldn't be but the fortuner felt far more stable on the offroad tracks than it did on the road even though the terrain is substantially more bumpy.  Due to the time that we got to the park entrance we had to make as best time as we could in order to make it to the camp before sunset.  Fat chance, so although driving at night is not allowed, we didn't have much of a choice.  On the way to the park entrance we had to negotiate our way around a foals' carcass that was right in the middle of the road with a gaggle of vultures still feasting on it.  We also had to avoid a prado driven at a furious pace by what must have been johannesburg people.
Although we didn't really have time for it, we still stopped on the edge of deception pan because it is just so spectacular that one couldn't not stop.  It's just an endless vista of grass and sky, just so utterly african.  This is something which simply does not exist in europe and I can see why people come here to experience it.  While we were stopped I noticed that the back of graeme's car looked a bit like an oil slick and sure enough, one of the jerry cans was leaking so there was diesel all over everything which, while not dangerous, makes everything smell of diesel.
"Slippery when wet" they say ... it doesn't look like they have had a drop of rain for ages.

From there on it was a bit of a dash to the campsite and for a change the GPS was spot on and we found the campsite with absolutely no problems at all.  We finally arrived at 19:30 so the day consisted of a 10:30 of travelling and everyone was more than a little tired.

Just as we had stopped and alighted in the dark, there was this bug that was flitting around my face which was very annoying and at first I thought it was a flying ant which caron absolutely detests and which, in our current frame of mind, would not cope with very well.  Just after the bug left me there was a shriek from gill followed by another one from caron as the praying mantis gave them the welcoming treatment.  It's just a little bug hug but the girls didn't particularly appreciate it.

We had asparagus soup with rolls for supper and a small fire to eat it by but both graeme and I were nodding off around the campfire like dolls.  Caron and I decide that we just had to have a shower and we felt much better for it; it was easily the quickest shower I have ever had.  Between the two of us I think we used less than 8 litres of water but it was really worth it!

We were very pleased to find that there was a permanent long drop but not so pleased to find that the stench was overpowering so I lit some toilet paper to get rid of the smell tossed it down the hole and sat down.  Toilet seat warmers are something one finds in high end hotels not on long drops in the kalahari so I only took five seconds to work out that something was amiss because my rear end was uncomfortably hot.  A quick peek into the pit of despair which now resembled dante's inferno as all the toilet paper went up in flames; one would think that people out here knew to burn the toilet paper.  The toilet was henceforth rename the big smoke because it smoked from then on but at least it didn't stink anymore.

In the Kalahari there are a few things one absolutely has to keep track of and that is the amount of water and fuel that one has left because opportunities to fill up are few and far between, if they exist at all.  From tomorrow, I keep track of our current stocks at the beginning of each day.
Water consumption, Drinking : This is a running total of the amount of drinking water which we have consumed.  We have 50l of drinking water and there is no place to fill up in the CKGR.  I am of the opinion that the water at Xade is fine to drink at a push but others don't so everyone has to make up their own minds.
Water consumption, Washing : This is a running total of the amount of water for washing and showering that we have consumed.  We carried 60l of this water and were able to fill up at Xade.  One could, at a push, get water from the permanent waterholes at various points if one was desperate.
Fuel consumption : This tracks how much we have used by recording the amount of fuel left as opposed to water where I tracked usage.  We took at total of 160l into the park as there is nowhere to get more fuel for about 1000km in difficult driving conditions so this has be planned and monitored carefully.

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