We’re writing this post from Mata Mata camp, half way up the western boundary of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Namibia is a sand dune away, just visible under a star-spangled sky.
Jo’burg feels a million miles further. It’s hard to believe it’s only been 4 days. It’s Sunday night, but we’ll probably only get to post this in a few day’s time. In the Kalahari, a solid internet connection is scarcer than water, it would seem.
It felt a little surreal driving west out of Jozi in the heart of Autumn, knowing that when we returned it would be in the springtime, and from the east. In fact the first couple days of this trip felt really weird. In the frantic rush of last minute packing and planning, all the goodbyes, we almost forgot that this whole thing was about to become very real. Up until that point it was something that played out purely in our imaginations. All of a sudden we were on the road. And it took us completely by surprise.
The road to Kuruman, our first destination, cuts a straight, flat line through a sea of sameness. It was slow going. At Klerksdorp we left the N12 and headed northwest for Delareyville, where we joined the N14. With all the road name changes in Jo’burg, it’s funny to think there’s a whole town out there with a name like that. Perhaps it’s named after a different De La Rey. The unremarkable hamlets of Broedersput and Vryburg slid by. Then Kuruman. Then, 10 kms before Red Sands Country Lodge, our camp for the night, we hit the stop/go’s. Balls. As it was, we were struggling to make it before sunset. The roadworks sealed our fate.
One of the Big Rules we had made for ourselves before leaving was to never drive after dark. Ever. And here we were, on our very first night, arriving a good hour after the sun had set. It was pitch dark as we drove into the aptly-named and jam-packed Red Sands, where we set up our little tent in the only available spot: a pit of fine red Kalahari sand… in the middle of a construction site. Nevertheless, we were leaving first thing the next morning, and it had been a long, rather emotional day. So we made a beeline for the bar and drank a few glasses of their cheapest wine, which helped. The next morning we packed the car as quickly as we could, with a throng of construction workers a few meters away giving us moral support.
It wasn’t the best of starts.
Things quickly got better though. We got to Upington easily enough and soon we were heading due north on the long, hot highway to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. We’d been driving for almost 2 full days. But when we began to see the Pale Chanting Goshawks standing sentry atop the telephone poles, we knew we were getting close. We pulled in to Twee Rivieren, the “capital” of Kgalagadi, in the late afternoon. As the sun set on day 2, it finally felt like our big adventure had begun.