Piper Pan 02 Camp to Xade 02 Camp, Central Kalahari GR, Botswana
Distance : 83.5 km
Best exchange of the day:
Owen: “Push it from the far end”
Dietwin “I push it slowly, yes?”
Owen “Don’t stop, don’t stop”
Dietwin “Aah, Owen, you sound just like like my Mady when I go slow, no?”
The day started with our first serious vehicular glitch. Through some combination of open doors, resetting vehicle computers, keys in ignition, courtesy lights being left active, Sharpy’s vehicle had a completely dead battery in the morning. It took two heavy duty sets of jumper cables to get his engine to crank over and finally start. While this appeared to be a simple issue easily fixed, the ramifications of it would only become apparent later on.
Once the car was started we took a quick drive down to the Piper Pan waterhole to see if there was any action – cheetah chases across the pan, leopards pouncing on unsuspecting gemsbok – but this was not to be. All we found were the local vulture population down for their morning drink and a couple of frisky springbok chasing each other around the pan.
The next 50 km felt like sitting in a washing machine set on an endless wash cycle – I have a new appreciation for what clothes go through! While we swayed and bumped from side to side, the landscape outside changed from low bushes with the odd tree to just low bushes – with random pans appearing and disappearing to break the monotony.
This part is definitely not giraffe country.
You would need a permanent giraffe chiropractor on call with all these pygmy trees… Or you could get giraffes with shorter legs.. and shorter necks… that would work!
Oh, wait, that would be an antelope…
We came across a burnt out car that had been dragged off to the side of the road. Apparently, what sometimes happens with low clearance vehiles, is that the grass found between the tracks accumulates around the drive shaft of the vehicle as it moves down the track. Eventually the friction and heat ignites the grass and the first thing the unsuspecting driver and passengers know about the problem is when smoke starts pouring out from under the vehicle.
During all of this we noticed that there were elephant spoor down the middle mannetjie, interspersed with the odd elephant droppings. When this was pointed out the comment came back from one of us (I can’t remember who) – “There are no elephant in the Kalahari!”
After 5 hours of churning down the road (no kidding), JanPutte’s voice came over the radio “According to my GPS, the Places of Interest says that there are free hot showers offered within 5 km of us!”
Since we were surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of dry bush at the time, this comment was met with undisguised derision and mirth!
But, the last laugh was on us. Not 5km later we arrived at Xade gate and there they were – free hot (solar powered) showers. After duly apologising to JanPutte (and Garmin) we started preparing to have our first hot shower in days. There were a pair of French tourists (ladies) that had just finished their showers. While chatting to them we discovered that they had seriously under calculated their fuel consumption and that, despite the fact that they were leaving the reserve right then, they would probably run out before they could reach the next fuel station in Ghanzi. A quick negotiation on cost per litre, exchange of cash and 20 litres was decanted into their vehicle before we waved them goodbye. I hope they made it!
After our shower – which was extremely welcome – we continued the final 10km to our camp site where we set up camp as the well drilled team we were becoming.
Fun facts for the day:
Distance 83.5 km
Min Alt 933.230 meters
Max Alt 1033.980 meters
Max Speed 49.2 km/hour
Avg Speed 10.9 km/hour