Another 5 am wake up, and the same scenario as yesterday. I got away earlier then yesterday, most others were already gone. I was on my way to ‘mata-mata’ camp, right on the Namibian border. I was told more wildlife would be seen up that way.
I was lucky enough to spot a Cape fox warming up not far from the road. At least 2 cubs were in and out the den, entertaining me with puppy behaviour. How cute.
Apart from the usual mammals, no lions or leopards were spotted. The temperature was rising quickly, making some of the soft sand tricky in 2 wheel drive mode, I decreased tyre pressure.
The main gravel roads in this park are 2 wheel drive friendly according to park management.
Checking in to ‘mata-mata’ campground, it was steaming hot. I found a half way decent shady tree campsite, with pool behind me and game viewing shelter in front of me. There was a different vibe here. People have set up camp for weeks, or days at least, just to feel that desert magic. Mingling was much easier, particularly in the pool. I was in there many times, cooling off.
Instead of going for a late afternoon game drive, I opted to sit in the view shelter, overlooking a waterhole. To be perfectly honest, this kinda game viewing is what I thought I would do at a few waterholes, instead of driving around aimlessly.
It really was nice to sit there and watch the animals come to the water, without noisy cars driving around. Even a few ‘Hartebeest’ came around, striking in bronze coloured fur in the sinking sun. Bliss. My camp spot was surrounded by two German couples. One a bit younger and then me and rather shy, the other passed 60 years and loudly spoken. They must have just met on a dating site and decided to go for an adventure in Africa. Kinda cute, but also annoying. The fire was going well and I sat in the game viewing shelter for a bit longer. A few jackals doing their rounds. I was told, that one or more lions killed a steenbok here last night. No action tonight.
Another 5 am start, a few people were ready to go. It was definitely a more relaxed atmosphere at this camp. I opted to watch the sunrise in the game viewing shelter. No wildlife to be seen, great spot for coffee though. I was in no hurry, even though it was prime time to see game. The campsite was booked out for tonight, otherwise I would have stayed another night. The temperature rose quickly, it’s gonna be hot hot hot today. I fare-welled my neighbours and people I spoke to, my Kgalagadi experience is coming to an end.
I spotted a couple of giraffes at a waterhole, nice to watch. Oryx, ostrich and springboks were already hiding from the sun, it might have been 10am.
Back at ‘Twee Rivien’, I inflated Zimba’s hoofs again. In front of me, a Toyota Clio shoebox and two young German girls deflating their tyres. Off for a wee drive? I asked. We’re on an adventure, we’re going to ‘mata-mata’, one replied. I was rather straddled by her reply. There is no way you get there in this shoe box. The ground clearance wasn’t much higher then a Ferrari, none of them had off road experience, no shuffle, no rope and no hope. The temperature had risen past 45 deg in Zimba’s thermometer meanwhile. The sand would be at least 60 degrees C hot, no shelter, and lions roaming this park. Off they drove for their adventure.
I cooled down in the pool. When I checked out at head office, I mentioned those two girls to reception. They knew and we advised them not to go, but there’s nothing we can do, she replied. Clearly surprised, I mentioned, that in best case scenario, they will get to ‘mata-mata’ burnt and dehydrated, towed by some fellow bakkie. Not only are they risking their lives of dehydration and running like chicken in hot sand, making it a perfect target for lions, but also risking life’s of people who will help them. Because they have too.
This is a busy tiny sand track and if they get stuck, they will cause a traffic jam on both sides in soft sand. And to make it a real adventure, they would repeat that on their return trip. Hardly moved she looked at me with the same expression as before. We Germans are known to be a bit crazy, a couple checking in said. Really??? I said, the Germans I know can count one and one together. Nothing wrong with crazy or adventure, but this is plain stupidity. You might as well take your car for a boat cruise.
There’s laws for almost everything here, but none for common sense and stupidity. I would really like to know,how or what happened with that Toyota Clio adventure in Kgalagadi. If anyone could google the local or park news, maybe it is documented. But probably not.
As I left the gates, iPod shuffle played ‘Powderfingers’ song ‘Already Gone’, the chorus repeats ‘Common sense, already gone’. Ha ha, I had a wee chuckle.
Being a ‘wild game novice’, I admit to a few rookie mistakes. Most people came back for the hotter period of the day and went out again in the afternoon. This means a lot of driving though. I haven’t planned or booked my stay very well either, but didn’t get much help or advice from tourist information either.
Stay at least two nights at nossob and/or mata-mata campground and let the magic of the Kalahari work it’s wonders. This area is where oldest human intelligence was first recorded with the SAN people. In this environment, it’s either evolve or die. My expectations were too high, admittedly. But it’s hard not too.
The campsites were spotless and well organised, the Chalets looked Inviting. Great option for a small group of people. People were friendly and helpful, although helpful information before booking would be a big bonus. One can only drive a 4WD track if previously booked, with a compulsory stopover at one of the lodges. And they’re not cheap. In Botswana, at least two vehicles need to travel together in convoy, out of safety reasons.
For me, my desert dwelling experience is done and dusted (lots of it), for now.