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.

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