An early morning start as we had another long day driving to reach the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which covers approx 38,000 square kms. This park straddles South Africa and Botswana and is like a no-man’s land between the two countries. We had to go through SA immigration as we entered as we will exit into Namibia. Our safari truck could only take us part of the way and then we had to transfer to an open vehicle to get to our lodge inside the park. Kgalagadi is the correct name for Kalahari, a name more familiar to us. On the way to the meeting point we saw wildebeest, springbok, oryx, mongoose and bustards. The road to the lodge is a thin red strip of sand, crossing 91 sand dunes! The dunes are not like bare white ones at the beach but are red sand covered with vegetation. It took about one and a half hours to drive about 30 kms! The animals also use it as there are always tracks down the centre. Had a new sighting of steenbok, black backed jackal and secretary birds. The lodge is situated on a dune overlooking a dry salt pan which is just over a kilometre in length, with a small waterhole maintained with a bore to keep the animals coming. The bad news was there is electricity only from 10 -12 in the morning and from 6 -10 in the evening. A paraffin lamp and candle were supplied – quite adequate. Rooms had a gas heater which did a good job. The water is salty and although there is a filtering unit to make some potable, the water in the showers is salty! So my plan to get some washing done was thrown out the window. We booked into a night drive – wearing a lot of clothes and huddled under thick blankets, we spent nearly 2 hours driving around the veldt but without much success, spotting only springer hare (the African kangaroo, but small!), eagle owl and steenbok. Very disappointing – had hoped to see a lion at least! Getting back to our room, we were very glad to find hot water bottles in our bed!
July 15 Friday
An early start for Bernie as he had booked into the 2-hour “dune walk” starting at 7.00am. I decided on a sleep in! They were driven out from the camp for about 15 minutes then did a nature walk with the guide explaining the significance of various plants – such as how the lion hides it cubs under the shepherd bush to keep them safe while it hunts. He also pointed out plants used for medicinal purposes by the bushmen. I had a lie in then sat on the deck with the binoculars scanning for wildlife and was excited to spot a jackal crossing the pan. Later I spent the morning on the bushmen village/craft walk. We walked to a small mock up village not far from the lodge where the men and women were making jewellery and other artefacts from ostrich egg shell, porcupine quill, wood, seeds etc. Now the bushmen are no longer allowed to roam and hunt, this is a way to make some income. In the afternoon, spent some needed leisure time in the sun looking over the pan.
Later in the afternoon we went on the sunset drive, having a glass of wine looking back over the pan to the lodge, watching the sunset - beautiful. Back at the lodge for dinner, potjie was served in the “boma”, an enclosed BBQ area. “Potjie” is a traditional Africaans dish which is stew of meat with vegetables on top with seasoning s, all cooked in a big iron pot for several hours. The meat was springbok! – was very tasty!