We were lucky enough to once again be invited to join John and his family on their trip up to Botswana. This time for 5 nights at 3rd Bridge campsite in Moremi. John’s friend Graham, his wife Louise and son Ben would also be there and Pippa and I were looking forward to seeing them again (we enjoyed their company and they were a great help on our first ill-fated trip to Botswana in 2012).
We arranged to meet up with them at the South Gate entrance to Moremi on 24 June 2014. Pippa and I planned our route up there through Northen Cape, into Botswana and up to Maun and then on to South Gate. We left Cape Town on 16 June to allow plenty of time to relax and enjoy the drive.
This would be our 3rd trip up north using the same border exit at Bokspits, but this time we made a slight change in our route and went via Springbok instead of Calvinia. Nice to try out some new overnight stops. Okay…so we did stop at Calvinia again on our way home!
We got away a bit later than intended, finally leaving mid morning. With only 570km to drive to our first overnight stop at Daisy Country Lodge in Springbok we had plenty of time though, so it wasn’t a problem.
There were still major road works underway between Ceres and the Van Rhynsdorp turnoff which caused some frustration. All the stop/go controls probably added about an hour and a half onto our travelling time but once through that section the road to Springbok was clear and we settled down and enjoyed the changing landscapes.
We arrived at Daisy Country Lodge at about 5:30pm. What a pleasant surprise. They advertised as being wheelchair friendly…and they were! We could park right outside our room and there was easy access to the verandah and entrance. The room was large, comfortable and had a very pleasant atmosphere. Nice!
The bathroom and toilet area off the bedroom was big enough to have a party in but the ramp getting up into that area was a little bit steep. It was manageable on my own but of course a little shove from Pippa made it that much easier!
We had a very pleasant dinner that evening. The staff were friendly and the food good. A pity though that there was only one other couple in the dining area so the atmosphere was fairly muted. No temptation to stay on and party.
After a good night’s sleep, and with only 430km to travel to our next stop-over at Kalahari Guest House we were in no rush and could afford to relax and enjoy a delicious breakfast before heading off.
With the temperature a chilling 3°C we didn’t waste too much time packing the car before setting off on the next leg of our journey.Once out of Springbok the road to Upington is long and straight…and I mean long and straight! The landscape is fascinating though. Vast, flat and open countryside on both sides of the road with hills way off in the distance. Why is it that they never seemed to get any closer?
A couple of hours of flat and open countryside is more than enough though and it was a relief when we finally got closer to Kakamas, the start of a pleasant change in scenery. Time also for the brain to re-engage and start co-ordinating the movements needed to steer the car through some welcome bends and turns in the road!
There’s been a lot of development in agriculture along the Orange River in recent years and the growth in the vineyards and wine industry has been amazing. Difficult to understand how it’s been so successful when you’re used to the more established vineyards in the Western Cape with it’s Mediterranean climate. It was really interesting driving through to Keimos and then Upington and seeing the development.
We stopped briefly in Upington to fill up with diesel and to buy a few things for dinner before going on to Kalahari Guest House, only another 50km further north.
After checking in at the reception and buying some meat and wood at their farmstall, Paul (the owner) led the way to the bushcamp area of their farm. We had booked one of their bush huts…a thatched roof and canvas structure lined with thorn bushes. It’s totally isolated and with it’s own enclosed braai area. A nice way for us to start easing our way into bush life and camping again!
I don’t know what it is about me but somehow, Paul must have sensed that my reversing skills with a trailer were less than proficient. He stopped before the turn-off to our hut and asked if I was comfortable reversing. I had to admit to my limited skills so he led us past the turn-off and took us through a field to park in an open area in front of our accommodation. It meant a bit of bundu bashing along a narrow dirt path for about 20 meters to get to our hut but the ground was firm so I could manage it fairly comfortably.
Paul left after showing us around and making sure that all was in order. We were thrilled with the set up and the views…so nice to be out in the bush again!
A little while after settling in I decided that with no audience around it would be a good opportunity to practise my reversing with the trailer. After looking at the access road and the parking area next to our hut I understood why Paul was concerned. No room at all to turn around in there. I decided that I’d reverse in so that I wouldn’t have to stress trying to reverse out in the morning. Well, no one was more surprised than me when I completed the exercise successfully…except maybe Pippa! A couple of corrections needed to avoid going off the causeway leading to the hut but in the end a job well done…even if I do say so myself. 🙂
We went for a little wander across the open field down to a small vlei that we could see from our hut. There were a lot of buck droppings around so plenty of evidence that they came down to drink. Unfortunately none about that afternoon and all we saw were a few goats out at the water’s edge…not high on my list of wildlife photographic opportunities so I gave them a miss. Pippa thought otherwise and took a shot for the record.
It was pleasant being out there in the warm sunshine though and we saw a few birds but too far away to get excited about.
So, back to our hut and time to pour a well earned glass of wine for Pippa and, of course, a little whiskey for myself, before starting the fire for our evening braai. Having moved the trailer I now had easy access to the fridge/freezer for my essential ice. I have to confess…that was an important motivator in deciding to test my reversing capability! Whiskey without ice? Maybe in the colder climates of the world but not for me here in Africa!
We had a lovely evening around the fire and the meat that we’d bought from the farmstall was excellent. Although it was warm next to the fire the temperature had dropped quite considerably through the course of the evening. It gets really cold at night in the Kalahari and we’d been a bit worried about that when booking the bush hut but needn’t have been. It was surprisingly warm inside and there were plenty of thick blankets available if needed.
So after a nice hot shower it was into bed for a good night’s rest before heading north and crossing into Botswana the next morning. We’d had a really relaxing and enjoyable day and were very much looking forward to the next part of our trip up to Maun.
Accommodation summary here.
Part 2: Kalahari Guest House to Maun to follow.