Friday, August 19, 2016

Spitzkoppe to Kalahari Rest, Kang in Botswana.

We woke up at 05:45 to the pitter patter of raindrops on the tent, surely it couldn't be but it was ... rain in the desert. Fortunately, for us and obviously not so fortunate for the plants and animals, the rain didn't last long and after a quick cup of coffee we were on the road at 06:50.

While taking the tent down we were hit by a really strong gust of wind which flattened the tent even with all the guy ropes still attached.  The gust broke at least two of the sections of the tent poles so now I need to fix the poles as well as the front zips which no longer work so well and one of them not really at all.

The moutains were still under shadow as we left and I was hoping that, now we were departing, my luck from the previous two days would change and that that I could get some decent photographs.  It was not to be and I departed without any really good photographs of Spitzkoppe.

We knew that today was going to be a long day in the car and we were not disappointed.  From Spitzkoppe to Okahandja was pretty quick but from Okahandja to past Windhoek took forever because of the roadworks as well as just the sheer amount of traffic and it was about 13:00 before we finally got out of Windhoek only to find that we couldn't find anywhere to get something to eat.

As it happens the road ran past the international airport so we ducked in there to have a toasted sarmie and coffee which wasn't half bad actually.

From then on it was a straight drive to the border which we arrived at just after an overland group of 25 people and, thankfully, they were a little disorganised and we managed to squeak in at the front of the queue.  This didn't stop one of the people pushing in front of us which led to Caron chastising him and his wife obviously felt bad because she went right to the back of the queue.  As we were leaving, passports stamped, another overlander arrived so now there was a 50 strong queue that we just avoided.

Botswana is quite different to Namibia and 'feels' a lot poorer.  I am not sure that it really is but the level of infrastructure in Namibia is a big step up on what there is in Botswana but for some reason, I prefer Botswana.  I'm not really sure why but I definitely felt a little like I had arrived home which is pretty wierd because I have no connection whatsoever with Botswana.

Overlanding in Botswana and Africa in general one has to be quite vigilant for goats, cows, warthogs, people and ostriches because the locals don't teach them road safety when they are young.  We had a near miss with a juvenile desert chicken who tried to cross the road but then shied away and we missed him by inches.  Fortunately I had already slowed down a lot but trying to 'read' the intentions of wild animals is a hit and miss affair if you will pardon the pun and if there is a group that is on both sides of the road, be very cautious.

Night fell and we still had about an hour to go and the old adage about driving after nightfall in africa which is "don't do it" is entirely appropriate.  It is just about impossible to see the cows sometimes.  Sometimes the light picks up an eye but mostly one doesn't see them until it would be too late if they walked onto the road.  I was torn between the desire to go as fast as possible to minimise the amount of time spent driving at night and driving as slowly as possible to enable one to see the danger and avoid it.  There is no right or wrong here just more or less risk and I ended up driving at 80km/hr which I felt gave me a reasonable chance if something was to walk onto the road.

We arrived in Kalahari Rest near Kang at 19:45 after 12 hours of driving and I was feeling quite tired.  Our requirements were, did they have a room, could we pay by card and did they have a restaurant that was open.  They answered in the affirmative to all three which was a relief.  Murphy was not however done with us for the day.

Since the lodge runs off solar power they use donkey boilers to create hot water and because we had arrived so late the boilers were all cold so while we went off to the restaurant before it closed and'someone' was tasked to start the boiler up.
When we arrived back at the chalet there was no rosy glow under the boiler so I went back to the reception to ask what had happened and almost got very lost on the way.  It is truly confusing trying to drive in the bush at night when there are no landmarks and lots of tracks.  I was told that the infamous 'someone' was there now so I drove back to check and sure enough there was nobody in sight so I drove back, sense of humour starting to fail, to reception only to be told that he was now there.  This time the the duty officer came with me and when we arrived at the, still dark, boiler he shouted the name of the 'someone' who replied from about 50m away where he was chopping wood in the pitch dark.  Having now established that there genuinely was someone attending to the boiler the duty officer departed and it turned out that 'someone' didn't have firelighters so I found some in the back of the car and 30 minutes later we had hot water.  Not a lot of it because the pressure was really low but it was at least hot and we could wash some of the day away before collapsing into bed.

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