Every year holidaymakers come to the coast to enjoy their summer holidays. Most of them would have booked their camping site a year in advance, or paid a heck of a lot of money to stay over in a guesthouse. I would guess 90% of them were looking forward to just go to the beach everyday, having a swim and get a great suntan before returning home. As the year went by, they would have got psyched up for those glorious days on the beach and couldn’t wait to spread their towels on our beaches. However, here’s the reality…
As I’m typing this, the south eastern wind is howling outside. Go down to the beach and you will see that it is mostly the kite surfers in wetsuits that are having a ball. A few die hard sunbathers are hanging on to their towels. Their lotion covered bodies are sandblasted by sticky sea sand. Go to the shops and you will see a lot of sore sunburned bodies standing in long cues at the tills. Go down to the beachfront caravan park, you will see a wind battered camp, with quite a few long faces. However, there are some exceptions…
Those who pre-tanned before their holidays or who were just more careful are looking great after a week or two on the beach. The better informed went to the beach early in the morning when the wind wasn’t blowing. The few caravaners that listened to advice did not book that beachfront camping spot, but opted for the wind protected resort a few hundred meters from the beach.
I think there are a lot of parallels between my story and the trail. The forum is an ideal platform to psyche each other up, raising the prospects of the trip to an unrealistic level, where all 20 participants will have the time of their life. As in the case of the beach holidaymakers, I think some forumites got lost in the excitement of the trip prospects and lost a bit track of the real life situation. I was certainly guilty of that as well – hoping for lions roaring through the night, visiting us in camp
The trip requirements are spelled out quite clearly on the Park’s site. You need to be self sufficient in every way and have to plan accordingly. Everybody knew upfront that the KTP averages 40 degC in November and that we will only do about 50 km a day, so obviously you would have to cater for that in some way if you plan to bring a freezer along. My solar panel costs much less than a decent camera lens – yet mine was the only one on the trip, but virtually every car had top notch camera equipment within. Strange if you consider the value each contributes to your trip experience. Maybe I didn’t take the best photos, but thanks to a solar panel we always had cold drinks, could make ice and freeze meat at will.
The afternoon southern winds and thunder storms are basically a given during November in the KTP – so you would have to prepare for it, take it in consideration when you setup camp or prepare dinner.
There is absolutely no way that the trip could cater for the likes of everybody – the group was to diverse. The only thing we all had in common was a true love for nature and more specific the KTP. I’m sure the guru birders got fed-up with us mortals that didn’t know the one LBJ from the other and just drove past them without stopping. Similarly the non-birders had to endure the birder’s frequent stops. Some people wanted to braai in daylight, others wanted to start the fire when the sun set. Although it was a 4x4 trip I got the idea that there were few real 4x4 enthusiasts. The common thread was a love for nature, not 4x4ing. I can go on and on about the differences in expectations from the trip, but enough said. I still think it was a great rip. I met people I would not have dreamt meeting in the KTP, let alone spend a few nights together in the wild outdoors. It was amazing to see how different people handle the same situation. My only criticism would be to try and filter the group more specifically - maybe a birding trip for the enthusiasts? And yes the cars were too many but it wasn’t planned that way. All the bookings didn’t go via KG (as it was supposed to be) so he couldn’t keep track of the vehicle count.