7 August 2010, Ais Ais
South African road trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Ais Ais in Namibia. More than 4000km and temperatures between -8 ° C and 35 ° C. The road less traveled.
Oh, how we had been looking forward to this trip. I had never been to this part of the world and are always very excited to explore new areas of Southern Africa. After a slight delay on our day of departure we had to rush quite a bit to get to Upington before sunset. South African roads are fantastic. Once we passed through Clamwilliam (3 hours north of Cape Town), traffic was really quiet and we could go pedal to the metal. The R27 all the way up is a very good road and still has once in a while a village to fill up for petrol. That is something one shouldn’t forget when taking a road trip in this area: fill up with petrol whenever you can because you’re never sure when the next opportunity is. Upington is booming!! I couldn’t believe it when we asked at the Protea hotel for a room and they were fully booked. WoW!! The other Protea hotel was ALSO full. Never mind, Upington apparently has 80 guesthouses to choose from so you can be sure, there will always be a room available somewhere. We found a very spacious room at Affinity Guesthouse, ZAR 600 for Bed & Breakfast. Perfect!! We could also put all our meat in their freezer which was great. In the Kalahari we will be doing self catering, braai (=BBQ) every evening so the meat has to last us quite long. In Upington we went to a restaurant called ‘Le Must’, so I guess it’s a must to eat there. Although a lot of the menu items were not available, we had great me. I had beef fillet with mushroom sauce and my friend choose the Oxtail. Really nice ‘kos’ (= food in Afrikaans).
From Upington it’s another 230 km to get to the entrance of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park so we left early, pedal to the metal and entered the park at around 10am at the Twee Rivieren entrance. I just love the beautiful red sand of the Kalahari. The colors are just so warm and being in the desert just completely relaxes you. Cell phone reception was gone so now we could really take in nature. And lucky we were, within an hours drive we saw 3 cheetahs, quite far away, but yes they were there. And a bit further there were 4 lions waiting for us. Well done! By now we were quite tired and actually wanted to get to our camp, The Kalahari Tented Camp. While driving we saw herds of Springbok, Gemsbok, Meerkats and Blue Wildebeest and Ostriches as well.
Kalahari Tented Camp is set by the banks of a river and each of the tents overlooks the water hole. It’s a lovely setting!! We had a tent with 4 beds and ensuite bathroom. The kitchen area is separate with a wooden deck and Braai facilities. The different tents are built in such a way that each one has privacy and you don’t see your neighbors. Really really nice! We had a lovely afternoon just reading and enjoying the Mongoose that came to visit us. By 17h30 we lit the fire to prepare for the braai and by 19h00 we were indulging in juicy lamb chops, salads and big mushrooms. The nights are wonderful in Southern Africa. The skies are so clear that you can see the whole milky way when stargazing. It’s very very special!!
In Africa we like to go to bed early so by 9pm we called in a day. The nights were quite chilly so an extra blanket or sleeping bag is not a bad thing to have handy.
The following morning we woke up and a giraffe was drinking at the waterhole. No better way to wake up I would say so.
We wanted to get out through Mata Mata gate but when we got there we were told that our passports should have been stamped at Twee Rivieren and no one had told us at Twee Rivieren (120 km south..). We were not happy but just had to deal with a 3 hour detour. So instead of going out and going straight to Namibia we drove all the way back again to Twee Riveren. We were treated though to the best Cheetah sighting ever. The 3 Cheetah’s that we saw yesterday were now very close to the road and they were moving around. We could follow them for at least half an hour and the detour was all worth it.
The road from Twee Rivieren to the border crossing at Rietfontein was still tarred but after that we had to deal with a few 100 km of untarred road. Very good road though and we still go at a good pace of about 120 km/h. Namibia is incredible. The country is MASSIVE but only has about 2.000.000 inhabitants and most of them live in Windhoek, Swakopmund and in the north close to the Kunene River. So in this country you can drive for hours and hours without seeing a single soul. We drove, I think, for about 2 hours and only encountered 2 cars. So ya, also important to make sure you lots of water with you, spare tire and some food in case you have a breakdown. No cell phone reception so you would have to wait for someone to pass, which might take hours or maybe a day.