Kgalagadi Trip Report - April 2019 AKA "The Rainy Desert Trip"


Kgalagadi Trip Report

The Gang: Peter and Linda (with her own private palace), Noel and Annie, Dave Nixon, Wendy and Roy, Doug and Santi, Mike and Clara, Dave and Maryke, Roger

Day 1: 5 April - Destination Botsalano Game Reserve
Early that morning we sallied forth bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on our trusty steeds so that we would still have time for game viewing. Wendy and Roy mentioned that they had heavy rain the night before (they had arrived a day early). It was also their first night in their new tent.... in the rain. Knowing that it seldom rains in that part of the world we were not too worried. But when the clouds came over and it was time to prepare for rain, Dave and Maryke had “difficulty” in putting up their flysheet, much to the merriment of the rest of the gang.

Just as we got the supper going, the heavens opened up and there was a quick scramble for shelter. We soon all made our way to Linda’s palace where the party was in full swing with Dave Nixon lording over the events. Imagine eight steamy bodies in the confines of an Oztent with rainwater, mud and wine awash on the ground sheet. Gallant Linda cleaned it all up in the morning with never a word or a fuss. Our tents had no time to dry and had to be folded up wet.

Kgalagadi 4x4 Trip ReportDay 2: 6 April – Destination Kalahari Lodge – via Ramatlabama border and Kang.
Fortunately the otherwise long and monotonous drive was broken by Peter’s call for a bacon ‘o clock stop somewhere along the highway. A good hearty breakfast was had by all and we pushed on, feeling much better for the stop. Eventually we made Kang and then Kalahari lodge where we made a bee line for the pub. What a welcome relief.

It was here that we teamed up with the rest of the gang, namely: Noel and Annie and Doug and Santi. They had come over from a trek somewhere the other side of the Kalahari with their big guns and gun carriage. They also mentioned that they had been dogged by rain almost all the way.
Some went off to try their luck at the restaurant while others were content to set up a braai and kuier. A lovely starry night and we thought “well here is our opportunity to dry the tent”. Not so. It seems the gods ordained that our tent shall remain wet and, true to form, it rained lightly and gusted heartily in the middle of the night.

Day 3: 7 April – Destination Bushy Pan
That morning we were all treated to breakfast. The speciality was fried eggs and bacon on toast. The only proviso being that one had to supply one’s own eggs and bread. Don’t know about the bacon. With tummies full of rubbery eggs and iffy toast and with tyres deflated we set forth once more into the unknown faithfully following Peter at the lead.

After checking in at Zutswa Wildlife Management Area we proceeded to our destination. Not much to mention other than perfect 4x4 twisty windy roads through lots of bush, thick sand and villages. We camped on a hill side with a stunning view of the pan. In the early evening the rains came and the wind howled leaving bodies hanging onto awnings. Forunately the squall passed quickly and we were left with a beautiful evening, a good fire, and lekker kuier

Kgalagadi 4x4 Trip ReportDay 4: 8 April – Chill-out at Bushy Pan
The more adventurous went for a game drive, while the rest of us were content to kuier and watch the game on the pan from our perches.

Day 5: 9 April – Destination: – a camp that only Peter knew
Rise and shine to a glorious sunrise, packed our wet tents, and off again.

First a lunch break and then our next task was to find our way to Peter’s campsite on the best pan ever. We skirted another pan until we found a track that was going to take us directly to our intended destination. Not long into this track we realized that it was going nowhere and the decision was made to back track to a route that both Peter and Mike knew well.

After losing some of the gang and much cussing from the rear we soon managed to join convoys again. With all our ducks now in a row we now set off for the cut line and ultimately our camp site for the night.

Day 5 & 6: 10/11 April - Destination: Mabuasahube.
After a clear night – hooray- we packed our dried out tents and headed out on the leg to Mabua. We travelled fast along a seldom used cut line to eventually arrive at the main entrance. Some folk took the opportunity of a game drive and we eventually all made our way to the Mabua #3 campsite

After settling in and making camp, the fires were lit and some had a braai while others went about their normal meal preparations. Just as the last preparations were made, the storm let loose. Those fortunate enough to have completed their braai ducked inside Linda’s palace – others sought shelter in the A frames which gave no shelter at all. Full credit must be given to Santi and Annie who, despite all the odds, persevered with making a cottage pie. By the time they were finished (in the “shelter” of the A frame) it looked more like stodge than pie. However...... Doug was heard to remark that it still tasted pretty good! Silver tongue man!

A lull in the storm allowed us to make a break for our tents, but no sooner were we inside than the wind blew with tremendous force carrying the rain horizontally and straight into our tent. Linda’s palace was once again a venue of much merriment while the storm was subsiding. After a few good shots of whiskey, some left over boeries, and who cares.

Mike had a near miss when a tree was blown over just in front of his vehicle and Roger had a tree blown over with the branches just brushing his front bumper.
The main casualty of the storm was Noel‘s much prized and admired bat wing awning which took flight and folded over the roof of his vehicle. His gun carriage (trailer) with tent on was blown back a good metre but fortunately no further damage,

The next day was another “chill out” day with time spent viewing the streams instead of roads, water on the pan and game which consisted of the odd antelope and one very wet looking Blou Wlidebeest.

Roger took his leave from us at this point, with a long drive ahead and a still longer one to Namibia in 4 days’ time.  The afternoon fortunately brought sunshine with plenty of ribbing between those who thought the day would clear and those who thought it would not. The evening was again one of stars and a chance to dry our tents out.

Kgalagadi 4x4 Trip ReportDay 7: 12 April - Destination: Cornwall Safari Lodge
We rose again to a brilliant day and had some hasty breakfasts before departing on our next leg. The plan was that each would make their own way back to the main gate and to regroup at 10a.m. Some formed small convoys while others chose to go alone. The whole convoy regrouped and checked out bar one vehicle driver who shall remain nameless (but was remembered at “straf-dop” time). Eventually we all started on our trek from Mabua – along the cut lines back to the main tarred road. From there we headed South and experienced the most bumpy and corrugated roads imaginable and reportedly a badly shaken gun carriage. Despite the nasty road we all arrived safely at the Lodge. Some elected to stay in chalets and others in their tents. The ablutions were excellent and the campsite was very comfortable. That evening we all gathered for a hearty meal followed by straf doppe metered out by Santi.

Day 8: 13 April - Destination: Molopo Game Reserve.
With no palace to pack, we were on our way to an early start via the Bray border post. Once through the border ( which was quick and easy) and an ice cream in hand we set off on the more direct route, rather than follow the Molopo River. This road was every bit as bad as the previous one, but we soon arrived at the game reserve with much relief.

The camp site, which had been recently upgraded, was right next to the hide over the water hole. Those who opted for a game drive saw quite a bit of game along the river bed and some lovely views on the southern side of the park. In the evening others were rewarded with plenty of game visiting the water hole.
That night we shared our last camp, braai and kuier.

Day 9: 14 April - Destination: Home
After packing up in our own time and some fond adieus, we each made our own way back to where ever we originated from.
Again the road was heavily corrugated up to the tar road outside Vryburg and it seems the gun carriage took more strain along this section.

When all is said and done, it can safely be said that a wonderful trip was had by all. Most of us experienced new horizons and we all made new friends along the way. All credit must be given to Peter for the way in which the whole adventure was planned and executed. Our appreciation knows no bounds.

Finite at last!
Dave Shaw


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