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Kgalagadi Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail

Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mokala, Namaqua, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld
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Re: Kgalagadi Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Kgalagadi Guru » Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:46 am

It sure is an adventure and an experience, especially if the lions at Witgat camp come and sleep next to the vehicles at night, quite frequently they come into camp to investigate
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Indiajane
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Re: Mabuasehube

Unread post by Indiajane » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:23 pm

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mabua 4 by IndiajaneCT, on Flickr

Jodie, here is the first one of Mabua 4 - just testing loading and will load a couple more

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Re: Mabuasehube

Unread post by Indiajane » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:48 pm

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Mabua 4 by IndiajaneCT, on Flickr

getting there!

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Mabua 4 by IndiajaneCT, on Flickr

A couple of the sites have these A frame platforms which we didn't use - this was the one at Mabua 4 - Mabua 2 and 3 (which are very close together and would only work if you were camping in a larger party have them) but Mabua 1 which is not on the pan doesn't (Mabua 1 is on a hill overlooking the pan but has no facilities)

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Re: Mabuasehube

Unread post by Indiajane » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:09 pm

Near Matopi - this was Feb last year, very green - loads of rain!

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Near Matopi by IndiajaneCT, on Flickr

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Re: Kgalagadi Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Kgalagadi Guru » Fri May 06, 2011 1:13 pm

just got back from a 4x4 Eco Trail.

It was a very interesting and very wet trail. The first day of the trail we had some lions and cheetah. At Swartbas the evening we heard the lions roar (Which had all the guests scattering for their vehicles).

On the second day towards Rosyntjiebos we saw plenty baby gemsbok and general game, at Rosyntjiebos we had some rain and a very relaxed evening.

The third day towards Witgat (where we normally have plenty lion activity) we came across a porcupine which was killed by a leopard the morning. No lion tracks (at that stage), due to the predators being active in this area the vehicles were parked in a circle as requested by the guests.
As we woke up the morning there was so many lion tracks about 200m from the campsite, and it was clear that a huge male lion walked towards the waterhole but didn’t get to the water hole, maybe too much noise from the campsite.

I will post pics of the trip as soon as I have downloaded them.

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Re: Kgalagadi Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Kgalagadi Guru » Sat May 07, 2011 9:00 am

Here are some pictures of the latest 4x4 trail I did.

The Bush toilet - With a view

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Bush Shower with a view.

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Just after the first days rain on the trail.
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Setting up camp.
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Needed to keep the kids busy, so I asked them to make 'faces' out of Tsammas.
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Waking up with a stunning sunrise.
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mistral
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Eco trail can be a challenge

Unread post by mistral » Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:16 am

Well the Eco trail seems to be a lot tougher than I imagined and evidently will test your 4x4 skills! :thumbs_up:

This is what one guy who did the trail had to say:

"1st day all 5 vehicles (Disco 2, Disco3, Toyota SRT x2 and Hard body) failed miserably to make it up the dunes at 1st attempt.

Sand very soft in places, speed and low tire pressures needed.

Big Bertha, the largest of the dunes you face can be a challenge. Not Atlantic dunes challenging but it still caused the Hardbody driven by an Atlantic Dunes player to take the escape route. The car was heavily loaded though.

2R Nossob direction probably slightly harder as many of the dunes have steeper south facing slopes. Great way to get a taste of what an overland trip in convoy will be like.

2 x Toyota’s picked up punctures on the trail."

It seems everyone had a great time and can't wait to go back to Kgagaladi - that special place.

One interesting tip is that some of the drivers brought along shade netting to form a fence barricade around the back of their 4x4's for protection from predators. Camping in the open desert, drivers formed a circular laager to keep out predators.

Also he doesn't recommend ground tents due to the wind.

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Re: Driving Skill Needed for the Nossob Eco 4x4 Trail

Unread post by Jembo » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:00 pm

I presume the trail you refer to is the one between Nossob and Mabuase hube, ending near Bosobogolo Pan. It certainly is sandy, but nothing difficult. Just remember that it is single lane but two-way traffic, so when roaring up the odd dune be aware that someone else could be roaring up the opposite side - all you can do is slack off on the crest and hope for the best! (The Dunes are not formidable...) But it is a wonderful experience. Just keep your eyes open. Need any more info, please ask....

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Re: Driving Skill Needed for the Nossob Eco 4x4 Trail

Unread post by Switchback » Fri Dec 02, 2011 6:27 pm

The trail runs indeed from 60km north of Nossob to about 45km north of Twee Rivieren. I have just returned from completing this trail - if you have done the Bitterpan route, you will be ok.

One VERY important aspect - tyre pressures. Have your tyre pressure at 1.2 bar when cold, in other words, in the mornings, and you should be fine. We found that with the extreme heat, tyre pressure went up by 0.4 by 10AM already!

If you want to get up Big Bertha - make sure your tyre pressure are at 1.2 bar just before you go up this big dune. :thumbs_up:

PS: If you want to do really well on this trail, hire an Isuzu... :tongue:
KNP: 14 June: Skukuza Camping
15 -21 June: Letaba Camping

shfish
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Re: Driving Skill Needed for the Nossob Eco 4x4 Trail

Unread post by shfish » Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:25 pm

This is a question that is of interest to me too, but nobody seems to have answered fully. I have an X-trail 4x4, no low range but central diff lock. Would this vehicle be able to do the trail( without burning out the clutch)?

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Re: Driving Skill Needed for the Nossob Eco 4x4 Trail

Unread post by Switchback » Fri Dec 02, 2011 11:15 pm

Hi shfish,

To answer fully: You need a 4x4 vehicle with Low Range, not only a AWD vehicle. Low Range is a pre-requisite for this route and you will definitely need Low Range.

A Central Diff Lock "locks" your front and rear drive shaft when all four wheels provide traction. This is handy when either both front wheels or rear wheels has little or no grip, then, because your central diff lock is engaged, power is also still sent to the wheels that has traction and power not lost to the ones struggling with traction. The only reason you want your central diff to be dis-engaged is so that you do not get gearbox windup on tar roads.

Gearbox windup happens if your central diff is engaged and you are travelling on a hard surface that provides good traction, then, when you are turning, your front and rear wheels do not follow the same path; the front wheels obviously determines the direction and the rear wheels follow in the shortest path possible. Because of that, the front and rear wheels want to turn at different speeds to cover the same distance, but because your central diff is engaged, it is forced to turn at the same speed and the you get gearbox windup which is very bad for your transfer case.

In short, your central diff has no advantage in sand driving, neither is a rear or front diff-lock, those are actually never used in sand driving, using rear diff-locks in thick sand will want to push your car straight when you want to turn - not a good recipe for climbing a dune with a turn in it. Your car will under steer, you'll lose momentum and fail to clear the dune.

What you need for this trail, is a 4x4 with Low Range, and preferably one that does not have Traction Control or one where you can turn your tractions control off when in Four Wheel Drive and have engaged Low Range.

Traction Control and sand driving is not very good friends and are not ment to be used together. Traction Control is good to keep you on the tar roads when you are cornering too fast, not when you are trying to clear Big Bertha. When you are busy climbing a steep, sandy dune and you have the correct speed and momentum, wheel slip still occurs. If you have traction control on when this happens, power is cut from that wheel to stop it from spinning and sent to the other wheel which has good traction. This sudden "extra power" at the other wheel makes that wheel "grab" for more grip in the sand - which in lose sand makes that wheel spin, power cut from that wheel and more power is again sent back to the previous wheel - a vicious circle. Basically in the end all four wheels digs out chunks of the dune which results in a messed up, corrugated dune for the poor oke that follows you to climb.

I hope this answer is a bit more clear? :thumbs_up:
KNP: 14 June: Skukuza Camping
15 -21 June: Letaba Camping

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Re: Driving Skill Needed for the Nossob Eco 4x4 Trail

Unread post by shfish » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:27 pm

Thanks again Switchback. I suspect this "Auto" option is similar to Traction Control. I've always been led to believe that, in this option, the vehicle will determine which wheel has the best grip and send power to that wheel.
So it would seem that the Auto option is good for a slippery dirt road and the Lock option would be helpful on a rocky or slower trail.
It seems that neither is ideal for serious sand driving....low range is a must!
Keep well.

pedalgeek
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Re: Driving Skill Needed for the Nossob Eco 4x4 Trail

Unread post by pedalgeek » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:51 am

Wow, thanks for the feedback - encouragement, information and advice. I think that based on what everyone has written, my sister and I can "do" this trail and not end up as "laughing stock" in the morning tabloids! I look forward to being back in your amazing country - this time enjoying the "still" of the Kalahari and the Karoo - in 5 or 6 months. Again, thanks for your willingness to share your time and expertise. :thumbs_up:

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:08 pm

Feb 13 – 16

My first 4x4 trail started off amazingly! We set out in the cool morning and spent most of the day marvelling at just how green the Kalahari was. Absolutely everything is bright shades of green – and what isn’t is blooming in vibrant shades of yellow, red and purple. There are many points where the trail looks more like it’s a country road through New Zealand or Europe in the heights of summer, then it is through one of the sandiest and most arid places on earth!

At our rest stop for brunch, we surprised an African Wild Cat out from the shade of our Sheppard’s tree – a rare sighing for the height of day! We got out of our cars to peer at it, while it sat under some brush peering at us, before it scurried off over the dunes. It was a wonderful sighting – and I was so surprised by it that I didn’t even grab my camera! It now sits in my lap the entire drive!

After the wild cat surprise, things calmed down and we saw plenty of your more “standard” game: herds of gemsbok and heartebeest, secretary birds, a particularly calm Black Snake Eagle, and several baby gemsbok (the youngest was likely no more then a week or two old!). We also found some lion tracks heading along the trail, but it looked like they had been made a day or two earlyier, and we were unable to find the big boy who made them.

We arrived at Witgat to find the entire valley in bloom, with the 5-petaled doublejke flowers blanketing the landscape before us. It made for a truly stunning backdrop for our dinner and first night under the star-strewn Kalahari sky.

Our second day dawned cold – surprisingly so for mid-summer – but clear. A quick investigation of our camp ffound the tracks of a Brown Hyena that had wandered through in the night after stopping at the waterhole – quite the exciting find!

We continued along the trail towards the second camp and continued our luck from the first day, seeing two small herds of Eland – an exceedingly rare sight on the main roads, as they greatly prefer hiding among the dunes – several Southern Masked Weavers building their nests out of the greenery, tracks of a small group of Spotted Hyena making their way through the dunes, and plenty of Kori Bustards, Steenbok, Gemsbok, and Heartebeest.

At one point, we came over the rise of a dune to find a massive party of animals in a flower-strewn field, consisting of at least 150 gemsbok, 10 Eland, 3 ostrich, and 7 Heartebeest. It was amazing to watch this huge number of animals move through the field as we slowly drove past.

Once at Camp 2, I walked a quick patrol around the camp to make sure that the area was safe and the washrooms and shower block was in good order, when I came across exceedingly fresh tracks of a very large male lion. Retreating to my car and fetching the rifle – just in case! – I investigated to find that the lion had wandered through the camp earlier that day, and had taken issue with our middle toilet stall, walking all around it before attacking and killing the toilet seat cover! After vanquishing this foe, the lion had scent-marked the chewed remains, and (to my relief!) wandered off.

The excitement didn’t end there! After we’d set up our tents, we heard the snorts and alarm calls of a pair of gemsbok. I initially thought that the lion had returned, but it turns out that these two big males were only having a disagreement, and they spent the next 10 minutes chasing each other in circles around our camp site, trashing bushes with their horns, clashing against one another, and generally causing quite the ruckus for our amusement.

We had an extra big fire this evening, just in case the lion decided to return and start in on our shower station, but the night was uneventful, and we rose refreshed and set off on our third day of adventure.

Our third day was wonderful, starting off early catching a Red Crested Korhaan displaying right beside my vehicle! This species’ plummeting display always looks remarkably dangerous to me, but I guess the female korhaans like daredevils. We also found some fresh looking Spotted Hyena tracks walking along our 4x4 track, but unfortunately were unable to find whoever made them.

We spent a couple hours relaxing while overlooking Eileen’s pan, sitting in the shade while watching a herd of 12 Heartebeest wander through the foliage below, a secretary bird hunting, a steenbok warily eying us, and a male ostrich on the far side of the pan calling – a rare sound to be sure! The clouds slowly rolled in – but stayed dry, thankfully, only serving to give us some very welcome shade, and make our scenery photos all the more dramatic!

We arrived at camp to watch an amazing sunset, with the sun illuminating the gently puffy clouds, relax, and have a light dinner before turning in to a well deserved rest under another beautiful starry sky.

Our fourth day, sadly, was quite abbreviated. My guests were looking at a 500km drive into Namibia, and elected to take the “emergency” route out of the 4x4 trail, through the dunes and down the bitterpan road into Nossob. While short (only around 12 km), the drive wasn’t uneventful! We managed to find a large herd of Heartebeest with babies, 5 steenbok, and the fresh tracks of a male leopard walking down the bitterpan road away from Nossob.

It looked like the leopard had been scouting out Nossob in the night, and had walked off into the dunes very early in the morning, as we could see a light spatter of rain on the prints, and knew that the rain had come and gone in the short hours before dawn.

And so we entered Nossob, and I bid my guests a fond farewell!

A wonderfully eventful trail, with amazing views and excellent sightings!
"...I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not..." - Neil Gaiman (American Gods)

Miros Photography on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gbfootprints/

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Re: Kgalagadi: Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail

Unread post by Miros » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:10 pm

Feb 20 – 24

We started off splashing through the remnants of last night’s rain, which took the humidity for our first day of travel through the roof, unfortunately. We all got to camp rather hot and sweaty, but thankfully we’re currently doing the South to North run of the trail, which means our first camp is Witgat, which has a very nice swimming pool!

Ok, actually, it’s the cistern for the waterhole at the camp… but it’s wet, it’s clean, and - as long as you can clamber up the 10 foots sides – it makes for a wonderful swimming pool!

Despite the heat, we had some excellent views this first day, enjoying our tea under a large Sheppard’s tree while a small herd of gemsbok and a handful of red hartebeest wandered through the pasture-like dunes. Eland, Springbok, and – as per usual – many Steenbok were also in evidence.

The birds have also been agreeable to us this first day, spotting many flocks of namaqua doves, Pale Chanting Goshawks (including several juveniles), Tawny Eagles, Kori Bustards, and Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters.

The Kalahari remains unbelievably green, but is now also turning into beautiful fields of red, purple and yellow as various flowers begin to bloom. The Mouse Whiskers have just started blooming this week, and there were several valleys between dunes which were absolutely covered in their delicate yellow flowers. It reminded me of fields of canola like I’d see back home in the prairies of Alberta in summer – not desert like at all!

After arriving at camp we had only a few short hours to set up and relax before one of the rather imposing looking clouds that had hovered on the horizon all day finally rolled overhead and dumped down upon us, sending us all running to batten down the covers of our tents and seek refuge in our vehicles. Thankfully, this rain let up after about half an hour, and was just enough of a soaking to bring the barking geckos out early, serenading us over dinner.

The rain came back well after midnight, and we slept cozy in our rooftop tents listening to rain on the canopy, thunder to the south, and lions roaring to the north.

The second day dawned wonderfully cool – and, thankfully – dry! We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while watching the sun rise and slowly burn away the clouds before setting off back into the dunes.

Our second day was wonderfully relaxed as we took in the sights, enjoying several sightings of hartebeest and gemsbok – each with young only a few scant weeks old – secretary birds, many (many) Pale Chanting Goshawks, and the usual bevy of steenbok. We were also treated to a sighting of an African Hoopoe out in the dunes, as well as a Black-chested Snake Eagle and small group of Red-necked Falcons soaring overhead.

We stopped for tea in the shade of a nice big Buffalo thorn, and I set out to check and ensure the latrine was safe. Not 5 metres away from the long-drop, I came across fresh – very fresh – lion prints. I retreated warily to the truck to retrieve the rifle (no, I’ve not learned from last week!), and I set back out to have a look and ensure that the lion was no longer around. Thankfully, it looked like he had departed earlier that day, as his prints were on top of the rain of last night, but had been walked on by a brave steenbok at some point since.

As we made our way back to the vehicles, we came across a Black Backed Jackal den! As we talked about how the dens are created and used, we were all surprised when a Jackal emerged from the den and took off at full tilt away from us! It was an excellent sighting, and hopefully the Jackal will remain in the area.

As we arrived at our second camp, we set up with a wary eye to the sky, as the grey storm clouds of the previous evening were slowly gathering again. We were less critical of the wonderfully cooling breeze that the evening brought with it – sorely needed after a very humid day!

I scouted the camp (rifle in hand, this time!), and searched for signs of recent activity, but found only the prints of a couple of gemsbok.

Our second night, thankfully, was a dry one, and our third day dawned warm and very humid with a clear sky above us, and beautiful puffy clouds along the horizon in every direction. We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise while listening to an ostrich calling in the distance, before setting off on our day’s journey.

Our third day was eventful if only for the 3 different Red Crested Korhaan that displayed quite close to our group – though I swear the latter two were displaying just to spite me after I gushed about how rare seeing the display! We also saw several groups of Gemsbok – including one demonstrating the Fhlemen grimace – each with small youngsters, porcupine quills, many korhaan, bustards, and steenbok, as well as a very agreeable herd of hartebeest of 7 adults and 4 babies which were very relaxed as they stood in the shade just beside our cars.

We spent tea at Elieen’s pan again, and enjoyed a leisurely lunch while watching hartebeest graze, gemsbok run for the hills, and a bustard wandering about the pan, all while big, puffy clouds drifted across the sky above us.

Once we arrived at camp, a wind came up and finally blew away the humidity… but also blew in imposing looking clouds, and the sound of thunder heading our way. We set up and prepped dinner as quickly as we could, but our haste turned out to be unnecessary, as while we were surrounded by lightning on all sides, we somehow managed to miss all the rain.

Our fourth day dawned clear and –thankfully – dry! We headed back towards the main road through fields of grass and three-thorn scrub, seeing black-shouldered kites, tawny eagles, pale chanting goshawks, and yet another mid-display red-crested korhaan (grrrrr. Silly birds!). But by far, the best sighting of the day was a black-backed jackal that decided to go for a morning jog beside our vehicles, keeping pace for a good half kilometre.

We stopped for tea just off the main road where we found a female leopard track, but sadly no leopard. And then, sadly, I bid my guests adieu and ended yet another wonderful trail!
"...I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not..." - Neil Gaiman (American Gods)

Miros Photography on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gbfootprints/


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