03.10.2009 - 04.10.2009
And so begins our tale of drowning. I am proud to be able to say that not just anybody can get flooded out of a desert: For that, it takes the special sort of talent that only Lydia and her dumb human sidekicks could produce.
Heading West through semi-nothingness, we passed an average of a vehicle every 8-10minutes or so, the majority of which also had a bored looking man driving and a woman in a reclined position sleeping – sorry, resting her eyes – in the passenger seat. You could pretty much tell that something was not quite right by mid afternoon as we drove north from Upington, the only town for miles around, through 190km of pure unadulterated nothingness except extremely grey (black) skies, huge gusts of wind and dust and numerous lightning strikes. The rain, surprisingly, held off for a while, only to suddenly remember how it was supposed to fall just as we approached the first small village we had seen in 2hours. There, the sudden discovery that the road ahead was now a river with what looked like grade 5 rapids on it, decided us after a short but deep reflection, that perhaps we should go no further after all and instead stop for the night. Perhaps Naively, we still had ideas of camping – after all, camping in a desert shouldn't be a major problem, right? - but they were swiftly dissolved when on reaching the guesthouse/camping ground, the rain suddenly became even more torrential and Maaret was essentially forced to swim across the carpark to the Guest House in search of shelter, and, thankfully, a (absolutely lovely) room. A couple of hours later we were sitting, wet and cold, braaiing in a garage and wondering what on Earth we had done to deserve it.
Above, welcome to the Kalahari, one of the worlds driest deserts, whilst (below) the area is normally so hot and dry, that these sorts of depots are a necessity.
The Kgagagagagagagagaladi (better known as the Ksgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, or part of the Kalahari Desert) is a desert area of North East South Africa, wedged in a triangular shape between Namibia and Botswana. The Desert – and Park – continues into both countries, but there it becomes increasingly hostile and passable only in well provisioned parties of 4x4s, which we blatantly didn't have. For us, the South African section would have to suffice.
The South African segment of the Kgalagadi was surprisingly green (the rain we had brought had obviously done its trick) and scrub like, with little in the way of the pure orangey sand dunes that might have been expected. It was also home to a wide variety of wildlife, and we saw a Lion early on, 3 cheetah under a tree a way off, and lots of Oryx (great horns), Springbok, Gemsbok, Wildebeast, Buffalo, Ostrich, one very fat snake sand a couple of Leopards (just to please Greg, naturally) near the end of the day. But mostly we just drove through the the arid scrub, with nothing of particular excitement to see except the scenery itself, and occasional large puddle to indicate that it had recently chucked it down. I am glad that it magically stayed dry – and indeed became very hot – as many sections of road could have been problematic to the low wheel based 2-wheel-drive Lydia if it had continued raining.
A long, long way to come for really not all that much: it could have been much more exciting, but i'm nevertheless happy we made the effort, as i doubt i'll ever come this way again.