Overview of Nossob
From the onset, I am embarrassed to confess that I never took one photograph of any of the chalet interiors at Nossob, but I will try my best to describe what is on offer at this camp.
Nossob is an approximate three and half hour drive from Twee Rivieren – that is, if you really don’t see anything on your way there – which is impossible! There are two picnic sites on the way, situated on the road for easy access. I am aware that the road conditions are really not sedan friendly, but there are a number of people who travel in sedan vehicles – the password is SLOW and remember to deflate the vehicle’s tyres to a lower pressure!
Nossob is an unassuming camp situated on the bank of the river that bears the same name. It has accommodation that varies from family chalets, a guest house, two bed chalets and a camping site. The chalets are comfortable and airy, each with a patio and braai. The two bed chalets have a kitchen/dining room area, a separate bedroom with en-suite bathroom which consists of a basin, shower and toilet. The family cottages, an enclosed verandah with two beds, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. The guest house can be rented as a whole unit, which can accommodate 8 persons, or partly which would then accommodate 4 persons each per unit. There is an interleading door between the two units if one party wants to use the whole unit. There are also two separate braai areas at the guest house if it is used by two parties. All the units at Nossob are well equipped with microwave ovens, fridges, crockery, cutlery, utensils and cookware. The guesthouses have stoves with ovens and the chalets have hotplates. A small touch that I have noticed throughout all SANPark’s accommodation except for in Kruger National Park, is a bottle of dishwash liquid, kitchen swabs and dishcloths – one less item to worry about when traveling.
Nossob has two gates which are separated by the walkway to the birdhide. (The birdhide from which the webcam seen on the website provides images of the waterhole in front of it.) Spend time at the predator information centre which is housed in the same building as reception. Beautiful photography and an incredible amount of information will help you to better understand the fragile ecosystems present in the Kalahari desert. This place is close to my heart as a very good friend spent many many late nights to put this masterpiece together as a work of love.
There is a filling station and a general dealer in the close vicinity of reception. A few pointers here; the fuel transactions have a limit of R250.00 if you are paying with a garage card – thus transactions will be split in units of R250.00. This is due to the fact that transactions are done via radio to Twee Rivieren as there are no telephone lines in Nossob. The general dealer only accepts cash, so be prepared for this before you leave Twee Rivieren. Also, the general dealer closes certain hours of the day – thus ensure that you don’t run out of beer or bread during times when they are not open. The variety of goods are not that of the average Pick & Pay, but the offering is sufficient for basic needs, although somewhat pricey. As a treat, remember that you can order freshly baked bread and roosterkoek (which I described earlier on) at reception. This is delivered to your chalet at a time which you specify when placing the order. It is yum!
I simply love the campsite of Nossob. There are ample trees and the sites are well-situated. The ablutions are spacious, good showers, enough toilets and basins and plugs at the mirrors for drying your hair. There is also an enclosed area with washing lines not far from the laundry / kitchen area. Each of the camping sites have a tap for water and a powerpoint although most of the sites on the eastern side does not have electricity. We in particular like sites 19 and 20 (even if we guiltily looked at the Honey Mesquite trees that provided shade, knowing that they are not supposed to be here…)
And lastly the pool…the greatest boon one could have in the desert in summer. More than just a place to cool down, it became a water hole of note where wilted bodies gathered and exchanged news of sightings and became friends. It is also the place where you can float peacefully at sunset and watch the sky change to all the colours the Great Painter wants to use at the end of the day…
Oh yes, one more thing. Nossob’s electricity is provided by a generator which is switched off at approximately 22:00. Don’t be caught in the shower…
12 November (Part I)
I was busy filling the flask with hot water when partner skidded around the corner into the kitchen. “The jackals…” he said and disappeared again. That was a sure sign of a cryptic clue that he wanted me to follow him. So I walked to patio of our chalet and listened. The jackals were making a racket indeed. “Do you think…?” partner asked in one of his half sentences he uses when he gets excited. I nodded and calmly put our coffee basket in the vehicle. “I am ready…” I announced. We were the second vehicle out of the gate – heading in the direction of Cubitje Quap – but a mere fifty meters away from camp, we found the source of the jackals excitement. Two male lions who came for a drink at the water hole at the birdhide. The two boys were on a mission – their beautiful muscled bodies reflecting golden in the early morning sun. We followed them until they turned away from the road and headed for Cubitje Quap, hoping to find the cheetahs everyone had told us about the previous day. After a quiet morning coffee, we decided to visit Marie’s Gat. A few meters past Rooikop water hole, we found a lioness with three cubs – the same cubs we had seen at the eland kill – but we could not linger, as we had to return to camp to pack.
Finally we were on our way in the direction of Union’s End – a milestone for me. I had often looked at the map of KTP and wondered about this place, dreaming of a day when I would be able to go there, and now it was happening. As we traveled further north from Nossob the strains of a long dry season became more and more visible. A herd of wildebeest was bearing testimony to the sparse fodder. We stopped for a while at Bedinkt water hole to watch flocks of Red-headed weavers quench their thirst.
Water holes which dot the roads in KTP were originally boreholes which was sunk to supply water for border patrol purposes many years ago prior to the division of the Kgalagadi area into livestock farms after World War I. After proclamation of the park in 1931, the water holes continued to serve as water supply to wildlife as we see it today. I am not sure whether we as visitors to this remote landscape realize the implication of having to maintain water supply in such an arid area. Bedinkt water hole amongst others, has a solar system that supplies power to the borehole. The windmills are gradually being replaced by this more environmentally friendly and efficient system, but these systems are costly. On a plaque at the water hole, an acknowledgment is made to Ousus, a lioness made legendary through a work of love by Piet Heymans. The proceeds of the book called “Ousus” was used to sponsor this water hole’s solar system as this was her area where she roamed. Piet Heymans is synonymous with this landscape – look out for the plaques at the waterholes which acknowledge the work and sponsorship of “Friends of the Kalahari”.
Half way between Polentswa and Lijersdraai water holes, the barren landscape changed once more – evidence of rain manifested in a greenish hue in the Nossob’s bed. Large herds of wildebeest, gemsbok and springbok started to appear. At Lijersdraai a hyena was having a lunch time dip in the water hole to ward off the effects of the stiflingly hot day. A small breeze moved the inert windmill and a spurt of water landed on her from a pvc pipe. Startled she jumped up to investigate the source and meekly started to drink from the fresh supply of water before she slunk back into the cooling pool with what almost looked like a sigh of great pleasure. I watched her with envy.
Grootkolk wilderness camp. We were met by Eric, the tourism assistant of Grootkolk.. I had thought that Willem was amazing, but Eric was a different kettle of fish. We hardly had time to chew on our lunch as his enthusiastic chatter kept us asking a hundred questions. It was after he had left us discreetly to unpack and settle in, that a new dimension of the wilderness camps came to me. In these remote areas, the only means of communication is by radio – and it was while we were settling in that my ears picked up on the conversation that was clearly audible in the quiet of the bush. The tourism assistants were bragging to each other about sightings at their camps, guest occupation and their “methods” of taking care of their “farms”. It was clear that there was a healthy competition between them, which obviously benefited the guests, thus with an amused smile, I dislodged from my eavesdropping and watched the flock of Sociable Weavers. I had left a pan filled with water to soak after lunch and never missing anything, these clever little creatures soon utilized this new source of water.
After our work was done at Grootkolk, we headed in the direction of Union’s End on a road full of cheetah tracks. We were literally like to two dogs panting after a bone – by now our cheetah-fever was sky-high, but alas, none of the water holes we passed yielded the much sought-after spotted ones.
Then at last, we arrived at Union’s End…and we were the only human beings in a vast landscape that enveloped us in solitude. The most northwesterly point of South Africa. We had come a long way – from the north, south and west of this beautiful country – to stand here silently and acknowledge gratitude for our safe passage thus far. I walked into the riverbed and stood there, listening to the silence, the whispering of the earth, feeling the rhythm of Africa pulsing through my blood and then I started to cry as I exhaled my smallness to the Universe who created me with the sun and dust of this continent…