Sunday morning broke gently over the dunes. The air was fresh and crisp – the time of day when one forgives the sun for its merciless rays when it sits in the noon sky. With renewed energy, I walked to the kitchen area, anticipating to see a bag of rusks I had left on the table, demolished by the mouse family. True to Oliver’s advice, the mice did not get up on the table. So after all, these desert mice have manners, they keep to “their” kitchen. A leisurely breakfast followed with large slices of bread laden with bacon and chunks of cheese.
After packing the vehicle, we debated our exit route; the short route of 12 kilometers that would deliver us on the dune road to Kamqua picnic site or the 45 kilometer drive that enters the Auob road at Craig Lockhart water hole. The longest route won and anticipating it to be in same condition as the one we had traveled on the previous day, we prepared for a long day.
As with most things in wild – never anticipate anything, except to be surprised. The road’s condition was much better – perhaps because many people rather opt for the short route. As we scaled the first dune, we found lion tracks – maybe those of the lioness that came to visit during the night. Steenbok, a big herd of gemsbok and quite a number of raptors kept us company on our journey, but it was the hyena dens that fascinated – some of them were large enough to house a buffalo!
Once more, to our great disappointment, neither Strathmore or Nuquap water holes were operational, yet we found animals in its vicinity, as if they were expecting see water there. The last dune, before ascending into the Auob river valley, yielded a half-eaten ostrich carcass. We left the dune fields with a sense of sadness, knowing the stillness and solitude we had found there will change once we were on the Mata Mata road.
A few kilometers from where we entered we found giraffes lying down in the shade of mid-morning. How incredibly big they looked after seeing only antelope for many days! A pit stop at Mata Mata camp for fuel, ice and ice-cream, had us heading back in the direction of Urikaruus wilderness camp where we would stay over.
The rest of our day was uneventful in terms of sightings, but the tranquility and uniqueness of Urikaruus had us settle down by late afternoon on the deck to watch the waterhole and the end of day. Below us a Yellow Mongoose looked up to the deck with eager eyes for a morsel. A Drongo inched ever closer on an overhanging Camel thorn branch. Peace filled me as I watched the dunes turn into a deep red copper and night’s mysterious blanket full of new wonders started to cover the landscape.
Overview of Urikaruus Wilderness Camp
This camp is an approximate two hours drive from Twee Rivieren on the Mata Mata road. Four units built on stilts overlook the dry Auob river bed and a water hole that is situated in front of the units.
Each unit consists of a bedroom with bathroom that is elevated from the kitchen/dining/braai area. The bedroom has two single beds, the en-suite bathroom, a shower, toilet and basin. At the time of our visit, the zip-open canvas doors were being replaced by wooden and glass sliding doors. The bedroom has a deck with two rustic chairs and a table. Downstairs from the bedroom, a living area houses an enclosed kitchen / dining area with an outside braai built onto a deck. The units are connected by decked walkways.
Something I forgot to tell much earlier on, is the whistle. Each unit in almost all of the wilderness camps has a whistle. The whistle is used to call the camp supervisor in cases of emergency. Quite a neat tool to have when a couple of lions just won’t budge from your front door!
Urikaruus’s architecture is very unique – again mixed use of building materials – wood, canvas, netting, corrugated fibrous wood roofs and walls and the latest addition of glass sliding doors. I am sure that the new addition will provide better insulation, especially during winter. Again, I found the camp as neat as a pin, the kitchen well equipped with a two plate gas cooker, a fridge-freezer, cookware, crockery, cutlery and a very well-placed braai area that affords good views of the water hole.