Mabua/Kgalagadi, here we come…..

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Botswana Bound

So after climbing into bed around 1am last night after some serious packing, we eventually bid the kids a sad farewell and finally got on the road at 10.30am via Harties, Swartruggens & Zeerust….. Apart from a stretch of roadworks, the going was good with very little traffic.

We crossed the border at Lobatse and then headed onto Jwaneng, some 150km’s later, where we refueled and then sat debating whether or not to shack up at the local Cezar hotel, which looked brand new and was actually still in the process of being built, or carry on thru Sekoma to the cutline and bush camp for the night.

Our adventurous sides won the toss so we hit the road, despite the fact it was now 5.30pm. We took a steady drive west, slowing down dramatically as it got darker.

Night driving was not something i'd like to do too often in Bots.....
Night driving was not something i’d like to do too often in Bots…..

After a further 180km’s, and deciding that night driving is now confirmed as a definite no no , we eventually found the sign to the gate to Mabuasehube. “Gate” being a rough farm gate hanging on by 2 bits of wire!!

By now it was dark, late and AJ was buggered, so about 5km’s down the cut line we pulled over and set up camp. We threw a couple of rolls together for dinner and a Savannah. Although the terrain was predominantly beach sand, the amount of tiny little grass thorns our shoes collected was amazing! By the time we hit the tent, my flip flops had turned into platforms!!

A full moon ruled out a dazzling display of stars, and as I settled down to sleep it struck me how unusually quiet the bush sounds were…….

Till tomorrow….

Sunrise on the cutline after a night of bush camping......
Sunrise on the cutline after a night of bush camping……


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bra’s & Beanbags

After a seriously crap night’s sleep which involved a herd of bovines crashing thru the bush at some point in the night, and something rather large rubbing itself against the car causing the tent to sway alarmingly, I rose woolly headed and bleary eyed the next morning. At some point in the night, whilst laying wide awake and staring at the ceiling of the tent, it dawned on me that i’d forgotten to pack any bra’s. Great, so I was stuck with one, white, already rather weathered brassiere for the entire 10 day trip!! Guess what will be going in the bin when we get home…..

So we packed up car, had a brief brekkie of yoghurts, muesli bars and naartjies and a quick scrubbing of teeth and we were on our way. According to the GPS we had approx 100km’s to drive to the entrance gate so we engaged 4H and set off at a steady 40km/hr.

Eventually the sand road picked up the farm fence which we stuck with for a while. As we rounded a corner, about 50 lappet faced vultures took off from the ground and scattered in all directions to settle at the top of various trees. Unfortunately the grass was too high and the road too low for us to see if they’d been on a kill so we carried on and left them too it. Further up the road we came across a herd of about 15 gemsbok, our first sighting of these magnificent antelope. It was at this point that AJ realised neither of us had packed our beanbags for the camera’s…. I was horrified!!! This is the equivelant of a fish without water!! Oh well, improvisation time I guess. We also saw a good few male ostriches who took to running at great speed in the road ahead before veering sharply left and disappearing into the bush.

Ostrich running on the Cutline

Shortly thereafter I took over the driving and once again realized just what an amazing offroad vehicle the Pajero is, she just swallowed up the miles with no complaints! Ploughing thru the thick heavy sand and rattling loudly over the corrogations. But eventually we arrived at the Mabuasehube reception, with everything in one piece, nothing broke, nothing fell off.

Finally we arrive!!

An extremely friendly woman checked us in while AJ’s enthusiasm for a good refreshing shower dwindled somewhat after we were informed that Mabuasehube Pan campsites (all 4 of them) had no water and we’d have to travel to Mpaathulwa Pan for water and a shower. However , we’d packed our bush showers so it wasn’t a train smash.

We then took a slow drive to our campsite for the next 3 nights. The corrogations were decidedly worse here as we couldn’t get up to speed to overcome the rattles and vibrations. The change in landscape and lie of the land was very different to the drive to the Park and quite breath-taking as we crested a low dune to find a vast, barren, desolate pan before us, covered in a thin layer of greeny-brown sand and not an animal in sight. Right, so I’d come prepared for this, scarce game is apparently the order of the day here, as is the total relaxation and peace and quiet.

We drove around the pan, stopping at campsite 4 to greet an extremely tanned (weathered) German woman who complained how quiet it was and there being no wildlife and that perhaps going to Nossob a day early might be in order…. It was when she mentioned that they’d not even heard lion or hyena in the night that I hoped that things would would pick up during our 3 night stay.

We then found our camp site, number 3, our home for the next 3 nights. Our first observation was the wind blasting off the pan in our direction, seasonal August winds that I’d not taken into account when I’d arranged this trip!! However, the open pan before us provided a real African setting with a lone single tree on the edge and the odd dust devil swirling past.

View from campsite 3

The resident yellow mongoose, or should that be Mongeese as well as the ground squirrels, were extremely tame and inquisitive and I’m almost certain they were sending us mental messages to get lunch on the go. The yellow billed hornbills also made an appearance and hung around, silently staring at us like a group of vultures about to descend on a kill.

Catching the sun’s last rays
The ever present hornbills
The ever present hornbills

Our neighbours also came over to say hi, and proceeded to regale us with their previous nights adventures with the lions at Mpaathutlwa Pan, how they’d abandoned their braai and moving to the next campsite as theirs had been taken over by the pride and their cubs – a story to take home for their kids as they said!

We decided to forego the afternoon game drive as we’d been driving for almost 2 days and chilled under the A-frame for a couple of hours, playing with the mongoose & ground squirrels.

Sundowner time….

A bit later in the afternoon while it was still nice and warm, we rigged up the bush shower in the dry shower cubicle which worked perfectly by shielding us from Hurricane Hilda and thus we we were thoroughly refreshed.

Down with the sun and out with the wine, we settled down by the campfire to an orchestra of barking gecko’s. A very bright full moon completely illuminated the pan for us this evening, rendering the use of torches virtually unneccesary. A yummy braai of pork rashers, boerie and a salad went down well and we eventually retired while the jackals quarreled amongst themselves nearby.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Gasless in Mabua

Early morning rise to the rather distressing realization that we seemed to have a leaking gas cylinder! One cup of tea down and a final pop from the cylinder signified dodgy possibility of end of gas… Not the end of the world but this now meant no bacon & eggs on the griddle, limited hot water for washing up & limited tea & coffee. This must have happened somewhere along the corrugated section of the route yesterday,, all the vibrations causing the gas to escape from the nozzle. But this is Africa so you deal with it! We sure as hell were not driving all the way back to the main road to find a refill!

AJ was now very grumpy so we set off in stony silence to Mpaatultwa Pan to find the lions. We stopped at the first campsite and greeted a retired Belgian couple who were on a 2 month retirement overland trip. They’d heard but not seen the lions last night. Campsite 2 looked like they were having a mass clean up and when we chatted to them, they told us they’d had the whole pride in camp at 8am that morning, playing with and carting their belongings off into the bush, which they were now busy collecting and tidying up.

We found the water hole at the edge of the pan and sat there for about half an hour watching a small herd of springbok and 2 side striped jackal with several wildebeest nearby.

Juvenile Gabar Goshawk

White Headed Vulture – Mpaathutlwa Pan

Wildebeest patiently wait at the waterhole for their turn