Our adventure didn’t really start out as planned. Poor ‘Traveling Around’ (TA) from home didn’t leave as planned on Nov 10, due to an early prairie snowstorm, which grounded her flight. New plan…well not really, the second plan was for her to depart on Friday Nov 12, but this time Mother Nature stepped in with an ice storm where the plane was over-nighting. She waited anxiously for 5 hours, hoping that the plane would not be cancelled and decided to go if it was going, since more unsettled weather was predicted. This turned out to be a very wise choice, since no other flights left after hers! At least she was on her way! She had to be rerouted once she hit Chicago, but this was a good thing, since she was sent via London and then actually had fewer planes to catch.
TA was finally here…so great to see her and although a bit weary, she was keen to get started. I had brought some things to let her refresh a bit, and figured if she wanted to hit the ground running, that we were almost in Stellenbosch…soo…..after getting a bit waylaid, and within 2 hours, she was working on her second winery tasting!!
Nov 15- flight to Upington
The airport shuttle came exactly as requested and into it we piled our suitcases, the black bin of camping supplies, and the wrapped up fridge/freezer. At the airport we had the fridge/freezer saran wrap sealed to contain the bubble wrap. We then went through the line ups and ended up with a familiar SAA agent, and this was a good thing. He informed us of 2 things…first of all, we had too much stuff and we were 29 kg overweight- which would cost us…nice and secondly, that SAA no longer permits the transport of fridge/freezers since they can’t guarantee their safe arrival and it might be a health hazard to transport it. Nice…talk to manager…he lets us take this as long as we sign a waiver that we wouldn’t sue if it got damaged…ok.
This fridge was getting expensive. So run around to pay for overweight…time is ticking…and what…the plane is delayed …why? Fog in George, where it is coming from…good, another point for Mother Nature! Any other meteorological event we could experience? TA…you have some sort of weather issues!!!
The agent forgot to give us the baggage tags, so now I wondered if we would even see our bags…oh well...we were going to KTP and I didn’t care…well I did…but not as much.!
Eventually we arrived in Upington, and after overhearing some people talking about the possibility of a sandstorm…we just had to laugh…I think that is really all that could have happened, weather wise.
We were met at the airport by the car rental agency. Such a nice couple who were renting us a 4X4…a biodiesel truck, which ran off spent French fry oil…but used regular diesel as well. Friends of ours who had rented from them in the past had christened it the ‘chip wagon’, although we didn’t find that the thing smelled overly French fry like. However anything that might heighten our chances of seeing critters was just fine.
The truck was a great little beast…a Nissan and I actually felt pretty confident driving it, once I got over the manual shifting with the other hand…it was just those pesky turn signals, which were on the opposite side and cause me to mistakenly clean the windshield more regularly than I needed to! We had some lessons on 4x4 driving, where things were in the truck- advice on changing a tyre…get a male to do it for you…great!- and then heard about the one little flaw. Apparently the truck had been returned the day before with the petrol sensor not fully functional. Even though the truck was full, it only registered that it was ¾ full. Ok…we will keep an eye on the petrol long as it isn’t something more serious like the alternator knocking out all the electrical system…ahem…not like that has happened recently.
Off we went towards our B and B. About 5 km out of the airport a warning alarm bell went off, and the petrol guage suddenly went to zero. Ha…wonderful…had we suddenly jettisoned petrol? No…so we got to our B and B and called the truck renters. They would come later in the afternoon and get it checked again. Meanwhile we went off to get some food for the evening, since our plan for the B and B fell through as she had a relative arrive that day and they wished to visit. Sigh…can anything else go wrong?? Ha…we just had to laugh…we got some food and tucked in to wait for the rental people, and had a swim. The truck was examined and deemed roadworthy, with just a gauge issue…there was nothing else available, so we were to continuously zero the mileage when we filled up and just not go more than 500, or was that 800km, on a tank. Ha...not much of a difference…just too funny. Later that night the Band B owner and her sister invited us for a sundowner by the pool with the bats flying above our heads…things were turning around…what a start!
Nov 16- Tuesday -Upington to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The truck was recheck the following am, and topped up for sure. We started our day off with a nice swim in the pool, with all the birds flying overhead and a wonderful breakfast of homemade goodies in the lapa. We drove into town and stocked up on food and drink; came back to the B and B to reorganize our things and were off northward. Our first Kgalagadi cat...
It was a hot day. We drove through barren dunes, with narry anything to see for many kms except the odd goat. KTP is 275km north of Upington and the road there is very much like prairie roads…straight, and leaving nothing to the imagination. There is one turn and unlike in 2008, this second road was now fully paved, making the whole trip so much faster and smoother. The dunes got redder and I was just a little excited.
We arrived at the new reception…
and it is a lovely building…except TA was kind of excited to see a massive millipede strolling within the building. You will understand once you see how impressive their size was! We were signed in with no issue and headed into the park. We stopped to meet the Head guide in Twee Rivieren and offloaded some books for the wilderness rangers, but he was within the park, so we just left the books at the office. Got some treats from the store; a load of petrol and recalibrated the gauge; and then with a small scenic boo-boo, headed into the park.