Before I start with the journal let me say that Fiona and I have agreed that her pictures are mine and my pictures are hers! We have identical cameras and were side by side when 99% of them were taken. Sometimes I have used my pictures and other times I have used hers - it all depended on which side of the vehicle the animals were and which way the sun was shining! Sometimes Fiona was using her video camera and I was taking pictures and at other times I was negotiating through tricky terrain and Fiona was taking pictures. Sometimes I was digging the car out of . . . . .
Let's get started!
Our chosen route from Cape Town took us north towards the Namibian border until the town of Springbok where we turned North-East and headed through the desolate Northern Cape to Upington via a small town called Pofadder. We had planned our first night's stop in Keimoes at a delightful oasis ~ De Werf B&B ~ just 40kms (25 miles) short of Upington. As we had left Cape Town at 4:00am and only stopped once to make tea by the road side we made excellent time and had most of the afternoon to ourselves. Our last decent meal was eaten that night at De Werf.
We skirted the huge town of Upington early the next morning and then turned north for the +200km (125 miles) of almost dead straight road to the park. Civilization falls away behind us and I start to breathe deeply and smile in anticipation. City stress leaks from the soles of my bare feet . . . . no radio, no television, no newspaper, no cell phones.
At last we reached the turn off to the park and leave the tarred road behind us. They are busy making a new road to the park entrance but it will be many years before it is complete as it is being made by hand! The longer it takes the better, as far as I am selfishly concerned. The moment a tarred road leads to the gates every man with 4 wheels will head to the Kgalagadi and its peace and quiet will be shattered. As it stands now, very few non 4 x 4 vehicles brave the atrocious roads and many of them leave on the back of a flat-bed tow-truck or minus their exhaust system and shock absorbers. The South African road is particularly bad and was at its worst this trip because of all the rain. We could immediately tell which cars had entered the park via South Africa as the only clean bits were the shapes left by the wipers on the windscreen - the rest was solid mud. Not to mention the stressed faces of the drivers! I had planned to enter the park via Botswana so only had to drive a short way in the muddy, pot-holed ditches on the sides of the new road being built. Before turning off to the border post and immigration we stopped to take pictures of a Bushman selling his traditional wares by the road side.
We leave South Africa, clear immigration, have our passports stamped, drive to the Botswana border post, clear immigration, have our passports stamped and then travel about 60kms (38 miles) on a relatively good gravel road and then reverse the procedure to get back into South Africa at Twee Rivieren ~ the gateway to the Kgalagadi Park. Twee Rivieren means 'two rivers' and is situated at the confluence of the dry Nossob & Auob Rivers. Even with all the rain neither of these rivers were flowing ~ they are ephemeral rivers and only flow for very short periods in times of exceptional rain. A portion of the Auob is said to flow once every 11 years and the Nossob perhaps twice every 100 years. The Nossob last flowed in 1963. They do, however, carry rainwater in the wet season . . . . it is all beneath the sandy surface.
And so we arrive at Twee Rivieren on a magnificent day with not a cloud in site. And it is warm - a nice dry, healthy 38C (100F). We are wonderfully early and have a good choice of camp sites ~ later the camp will fill up with the poor souls who struggled in via the South African road. We set up camp, make a quick cup of tea and head out for a game drive.
The plastic ammunition crates carry all our food, camp kitchen equipment and vehicle equipment. They are tough, waterproof, snake and jackal proof and stack beautifully. The back of the vehicle carries a fridge and a freezer and we have 5 containers of fresh Cape Town water. We even have a washing line!
Our home for the next 10 days!
First up on the game drive is a Juvenile Pale Chanting Goshawk. Later you will see pictures of the adult birds in totally different plumage.
A Kori Bustard. The world's heaviest flying bird . . . . which it does very reluctantly. Magnificent feathers which are coveted by Botswanan chiefs for their headdresses & cloaks. Endangered in some parts of Southern Africa but certainly not here - we saw hundreds of them.
<...> Sociable Weavers nest. Eventually the weight will become so great with rain or a strong wind the branch will break and the entire mass will crash to the ground. The little birds will start all over again. They never stop building and adding to a structure.
And our first ostrich. The male birds of the Kgalagadi have unique cinnamon coloured tails and bright red shins.