Somewhere between Dutlwe and Sekoma to Mpayathutlwa Pan (Botswana)
Distance : 269.5 km
The new day dawned dull and miserable. The cool weather from the previous night had not completely passed through yet so we staggered around the camp site having breakfast, coffee, tea and tidying up.
Once breakfast was done we broke camp, cleaned up behind ourselves and started the journey to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP).Another day of cut line driving, some tar and then the long haul cut line to the gates of the KTP.
The journey was broken by some impromptu fast food takeaways when we stopped for fuel in Sekoma – best slap chips we had for the whole 3 weeks!
After refuelling we hit the road again and a ‘short’ hundred odd kilometres later we almost over ran the turn off to the KTP. Once off the main road and through the gate we stopped to reduce the tyre pressure before heading down another (bloody) cut line…
In general, this cut line was in not too bad condition – we had been on far worse in the Central Kalahari – and we made relatively good time. If you can call 120km in 3 hours good time… Although we did have a short stop for a bit of lunch and some much welcome refreshment.
As we neared the KTP gate at Mabuasehube the weather started to change. The light overcast clouds started to break up as the wind freshened, but they were replaced by much darker storm clouds that were gathering in the south east.
A short stop at the gate to present our credentials and bookings, sign in on the register, pit stop and off we continued. All the while the horison grew darker and darker as a couple of fat rain drops splattered down on the windscreen.
This was completely different weather to anything we had encountered to date on the trip. The only variations so far had been heat, cold, wind and some overcast, low hanging clouds.
As we drove deeper into the park towards our camp site at Mpayathutlwa Pan the storm drifted away from us until we were once again covered in sunshine. However, as we rounded the pan and came up to our camp we were presented with a stunning vista across the pan. The pan itself was bathed in sunshine but the far rim was covered by thunderclouds that provided a dark and threatening backdrop.
By now the wind was whipping around the cars so we disembarked from the vehicles and drank in the scene unfolding before us before quickly fortifying the camp site A-frame in preparation for the storm that could hit at any moment.
There was a brief break from our frenetic activity when the cry of “Quick, check out the eland on the pan!”. Out of nowhere, a large herd of eland, at least a hundred strong, belted across the pan only to stop at the far end and begin feeding on the dry grass.
The storm continued to pass us unscathed until it blew itself out, providing a fantastic backdrop for the slowly setting sun to throw an evening light show for us.
While we were fortunate not to be panel beaten by the storm, the changeable weather did result in temperatures dropping even further which, in turn, lead to a dash for warm clothes, some coffee and the inevitable ethanol induced internal warming solution…
Followed by dinner… And bed… Before the mist rolled in…
Facts for the day (taken from the GPS readings on Google-Earth so don’t blame me for the Max Speed reading):
Distance 269.5 km
Min Alt 1001.140 meters
Max Alt 1109.560 meters
Max Speed 5232.8 km/hour (John, your Cruiser is getting faster and faster…)
Avg Speed 29.4 km/hour