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.

No comments: