Bape Camp (CKGR) to Mahurushele 04 (Khutse)
Distance : 85.9 km
Another beautiful Kalahari sunrise with not a breathe of wind was accompanied by a cacophony of birds chirping around the camp site. With another fairly long day of travel ahead of us we were all up early, dressed, packed and grabbing something to eat for breakfast. Santa on Safari had his daily cup of coffee percolating on the cooker and the aromatic smell drifted around the camp, whetting everyone’s appetite.
By now we were well accomplished at breaking camp and the team was working like a well oiled machine. Dietwin’s on-going camping education was bearing fruit as he had now progressed to the point where he had Sharpie rushing to keep up with him!
An hour or so into the journey we came up behind an extremely slow moving 5 tonne truck that was transporting a batch of porta-loos. We had to come to a stop as the truck had obviously been in trouble. We chatted to the driver and it turns out that they had had a puncture and were forced to dig a deep hole into the road in order to change the tyre. When we asked about the porta-loos – remember, we are now at least a days travel from the nearest reserve gate and even more from any sizable town and the average population density in the reserve is .0000000001 persons per square kilometre – the driver told us it was for “the Minister”.
Deeper questioning uncovered the fact that the minister was coming (at some indeterminate time) to talk to the people. Nonplussed, we tried to fathom this out. Hundreds of kilometres from any town, the truck driving away from the nearest gate to delivery portable toilets to some non-existent people. With a shrug and an “only in Africa” gesture we bade the driver and his cohorts goodbye, overtook them with some nifty bush driving and took off towards the southern border of the park some 80 km in the distance.
Roughly 20km later (which is about 2 hours of driving) we suddenly came upon a small herd of goats. This was followed by another herd and then a whole bunch of donkeys. (Not quite coincidently, the grass and lower leaves on the trees had disappeared…) We realised that we were passing through a “San” community and all of a sudden the whole portable toilet and Minister conundrum resolved itself in a flash of insight!
We passed through the community, waving at the residents (only about 20 odd of them) and we continued on our way.
As lunchtime drew closer we started looking for a tree that was more than the average 2m high. When we found one we didn’t even bother to pull off the road as we had not seen any traffic for several hours. In fact, aside from the Ministers Private Portable Toilet Convoy, we had not seen any traffic for days. Out came the table, cooler box with food and a couple of cold beers from the fridges in the back of the vehicles.
No sooner had we loaded up with sarmies and beer, when three vehicles appeared and came to a halt, blocked from going any further by our vehicles. John jumped into his vehicle and moved it off the road but Sharpie had his head buried in his vehicle’s bin so his was going nowhere. I watched the lead driver and his wife discussing the situation with some arm waving and head shaking. Before I could go over to them and start a discussion, the driver jammed is vehicle into gear, dragged on the steering and shot off the road and into the low bush alongside.
Fearing a Gauteng-like road rage incident I was making my way gingerly towards the vehicle when the door burst open and a beer carrying, hat wearing, shirtless male sprang out and charged over to me. As I was trying to come up with an appropriate apology a hand was suddenly thrust towards me – not a fist but a handshake, thankfully – and a “Howzit, my naam is Piet” was boomed in my direction.
Minutes later there was a lot of name swopping, back slapping and beer cheersing going on. The three couples had left Khutse (our destination for the next four days) that morning and they proceeded to give us some good advice regarding where the best place was for game viewing. John spent most of his time admiring the Land Cruiser camper van and Sharpie spent most of his time under the bonnet of another Ford. Mark and Dietwin proceeded to round up the three wives and then just stood there drooling…
Half an hour later and the three couples loaded themselves up and headed north in the direction from which we had come. A most welcome interlude in the middle of the Kalahari!
Several hours later and we had made it down to our camp site at Mahurushele Pan which is, while still technically in the CKGR, part of the Khutse Park. An sms on the satellite phone had us worrying that the “Boys” coming in from Gaberone might be late, or not even make it in that day, and only arrive the next morning. We set up camp and sat around, waiting in anticipation.
Not half an hour later there was the sound of a racing engine followed by a blaring horn. Around the corner, in a wash of dust, appeared the missing boys. The vehicle slammed to a halt and three bodies literally “poured” out of the bakkie. Cue lots of back slapping, welcomes and, naturally, a round of drinks!
Facts for the day:
Distance 85.9 km
Min Alt 852.660 meters
Max Alt 1215.640 meters
Max Speed 218.2 km/hour (not sure about your GPS here John?)
Avg Speed 14.2 km/hour