For the long weekend, we really wanted to go to Khwai River, which is just north of Moremi Game Reserve and the Okavango Delta as everybody we have spoken to, that has been there, rates it so highly.
There are 2 campsites at Khwai, one was full and the other had just increased their rates from BWP 150 to BWP 290 per person per night (total for us BWP 3480 for 4 nights) , that didn’t include park fees either – which we felt for a small piece of land only was a bit ridiculous.
So we decided that we would find some other bush to venture to. I contacted Botswana Wildlife and found they had a campsite for us at Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
I received my invoice and it was a mere BWP640 (about US$ 80 or US$7 per person per day), including park and vehicle fees. The amusing thing is that they only asked for us to pay a deposit by the 10th October, 10 days after we were to get home from our visit.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve, according to the literature we were given, is the second largest game reserve in the world, with only the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania larger.
We were going to stay at Deception Valley campsite, a valley made famous by Mark and Delia Owens, with their book “Cry of the Kalahari”. They had spent 7 years in the valley researching predators, long before there were any roads, even to the reserve, let alone tourists.
We were ready to leave, the car packed and we had a supply of 140l of water (roughly 30l a day), plus we had an extra 40l of fuel. For those of you wondering how we sorted out the toilet paper story that I mentioned in my last blog: I think whilst packing whenever Sue and I saw a roll lying around the house we packed it – so we had more than enough.
The village of Rakops was our first stop, just to top-up our fuel supply as this was the last garage. From here it is 46km of sand road, with the first 8km, described by our friend Howard as awful, and what puts him off going back to Central. So I was now stressing.
The thick sand made progress slow and our speed dial wasn’t even indicating 5kmh. I kept my eye on the odometer counting down the 8km – it was moving slowly.
It was just after the 8km point when through the dust I made out a wicked stretch of road ahead. Deep thick powder. Tracks of previous cars had driven around the patch, so I turned off as well. The sand didn’t look much better on the detour so I increased my speed to get some momentum going. The sand was thick and I felt the car beginning to battle.
The dust was so bad that we couldn’t even see our trailer through the back window. I dropped the revs and the car got more traction and we edged forward.
We had bought ourselves a high lift jack and we had a spade, but they were meant to be just for show, I didn’t think we actually were going to use them, especially not so soon – but it seemed for a while that we would.
I was also cursing Howard, as we had done our 8km, the road should have been fine. It was a sense of relief when we got onto firmer ground and amazed that our trailer was still attached to our car. The feeling of relief was short lived as we ploughed through another deep, soft spot.
That, thank goodness, was the last of bad patches and the road was good (for Botswana sand roads) the rest of the way to the gate. The 46km took us close to 2 hours, but we had made it, nothing was damaged and the high lift jack and spade were not used. The bad news was that we still had 41km from the gate to our camp site.
The road inside the park was nothing worse than what we have driven before, in places such as Khumaga and it took us a further 2 hours to get to our campsite, stopping along the way to look at Kudu, Giraffe and Gemsbuck.
With the camp set up my fears of getting there, a thing of the past I could relax with an ice cold lemonade (ok it was a beer). It was now the turn of Sue and Tristan to worry as night time was just around the corner and they feared lions coming into camp.
More to follow…