Thursday, April 05, 2012

Central Kalahari, here we come ...

First day of leave, I had taken the day off instead of going to work in the morning; this turned out to have been a very good idea. We started the morning off with breakfast at tashas which is a new restaurant at hyde park. I had a gruyere omelette which I can highly recommend to anyone. Next up was the last minute shopping for fresh food and vegetables and then it was back home to see how much all the preparation of the last two months will make to the packing time. Packing for an overland trip and packing for a hiking trip are altogether different experiences; it took us about 3 hours to pack the car which sounds like a lot but goes extremely quickly. So we have the spare wheel, the jerry cans and assorted other electronic equipment all packed up ready to go. Getting everything into the car was a bit of a mission but we eventually squeezed it all in. We had been planning on having a spare seat but it eventually succumbed to the pressure and ended up with sleeping bags and blankets. I made a bit of a mess with filling up the water tank so some water borrelled out of the top and into the car so we might have to put up with a damp smell in a days time.

At 13:30 we were off on our little adventure; a little apprehensive and excited for the coming week. First up was some last, last, last minute shopping at bryanston shops so caron shopped while I set up the GPS's and the onboard camera which sounds very fancy but what I am trying to do is take time lapse photography out of the front window to show the changing landscape. Essentially, I hope to condense 10 days of driving into a 20 minute video.

Leaving at 14:00, finally, we headed up the N1 north fully expecting delays at midrand and around pretoria, this didn't happen at all and we were able to travel at approximately 80-100km all the way. Having negotiated Pretoria successfully I thought we were home and hosed but I didn't count on the toll roads which were just a nightmare. Most of them only required a wait of 10 to 20 minutes but the kranskop one was in a category of it's own; two hours in the queue. The queue itself was quite an experience; a two lane highway with 5 cars abreast on it and lots of lane changing at 0.2km per hour. If everyone had actually stayed in their lanes it moved reasonably well but with 5 lanes going into 3 and then back to 5 depending on the conditions on the side of the road; it just slowed everything down. There was an engen garage about 2km before the toll road which provided an opportunity for people to take the short cut through the garage and then back onto the highway, ahead of the people they were with before they took the offramp. It constantly amazes me how people think that their time is more important and valuable than the time of the people around them. At one stage there were bushes on the right hand side and I could see a minibus taxi, one of the large ones, coming up in the dirt so I pulled over a little to the right so they couldn't get past. The taxi hooted which I just ignored but a minute later I saw him overtaking on the far left having forced his way across four lanes of traffic and then five minute later I saw him forcing his way into the same lane as me but 4 cars ahead. Just incredible.

After two hours we were both getting tired of the queue but the trip went quite quickly from there on and we found the campsite without any problems. The car went very well but I can feel the weight of the gear on the roof rack as we go over bumps which throw the car sideways; it is going to take a little getting used to. I think that we have about 140kg on the roof made up of 80kg of fuel, 10kg of gas bottles, 35kg of spare wheel and 15kg awnings and groundsheets.

We set up camp in the moonlight which was so bright that one almost didn't need a torch at all. Within two hours we were completely done, finished supper and ready for bed. Problem was that graeme and gill hadn't arrived. They left a few hours after us and we phoned them to tell them to avoid the kranskop plaza and to use the R101; we started to worry that this hadn't been good advice but at about 11:00 we heard a car coming. At 11:30 we could still hear a car coming and finally there were headlights; they had taken a wrong turn somewhere and spent 30 minutes driving around in the veld. It was a relief that we were all together and the holiday could finally start. In bed and asleep at 24:00!

The graphic below gives a summary of the route that we intend to follow once we arrive at the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.  In the graphic below north is actually to the left.

Day 1 - Arrive at Passarge campsite (CKPAS01) in the Passarge valley.
Day 2 - Rest day and sightseeing around Passarge
Day 3 - Travel to Deception campsite (CKDEC03) in the Deception valley via Passarge valley, Passarge Pan and Tau Pan
Day 4 - Rest day and sightseeing around Sunday Pan
Day 5 - Travel to Xaka campsite (CKWIL04) via Deception Pan, Pipers Pan and Xade
Day 6 - Travel to Mahurushele campsite (KMAH03) in the Khutse game reserve via the Bape campsite
Day 7 - Rest day and sightseeing around Mahurushele pan.
Day 8 - Exit the park at Khutse gate having travelled via the Molose Pan.

Something which we didn't really realise is that the amount of travel time required to get to CKGR and then back from the CKGR is quite substantial and is something to be kept in mind in future planning.

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