It was freezing cold this morning as can be evidenced by the photo at 8:11am. It was our last day in the Kgalagadi and so we thought we would give it one last chance and do a loop down to the nearest waterhole from Mata Mata. Going down we saw nothing of note. At the waterhole a bird of prey flew into the tree above our car and by the time we had positioned ourselves to try and ID it, it was attacked by Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk and chased away. On the road back we saw a White-backed Vulture collecting twigs for it’s nest and it was right on the side of the road (nice photo opportunity). The only the interesting sighting was 2 black backed jackals. We added no new birds to the list of 60 as well. So we remain underwhelmed by the Kgalagadi and can’t see ourselves rushing back. There is no question in our minds that the Kruger National Park, Etosha, Masai Mara, Karoo National Park, Augrabies, Okavango Delta all beat the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park by some distance. Seriously have no idea why so many friends of ours have raved about it. Might be time to change friends.
We exited the KTF at Mata Mata. We had done SA passport control at Tree Rivieren 3 days ago (in case you missed that) so we only had to do Namibia immigration. That involved a reasonable amount of paperwork and also paying a road tax (Western countries would consider this a form of legalised bribe). Fortunately all of this was done relatively quickly as there are not a lot of people entering Namibia through this gate. As we crossed the border our GPS kindly told us we had just crossed into Namibia and flashed up a Namibian flag.
It was then a 330 km drive from the Mata Mata gate through to Mariental. 90% of the route was gravel. The gravel roads are in superb condition though and the speed limit is 100 km/h. Within a kilometer I was up to 100 km/h and feeling very comfortable on the gravel. I did warn our travel companions (the Whiters) that they should give us a little space as you kick up a lot of stones and dust when you are traveling at that speed on gravel roads. While the roads are in excellent condition, you do have to keep paying attention all the time just in case there is a stray large stone or a hole or a rocky section or a dip or loose gravel. On one corner the gravel was very loose and at 100 km/h (or maybe slightly more), the back of the Beast slid out (I can hear the gasps from the grandparents) but the Beast is not called the Beast for no reason. Along with the power and agility of the Beast, my superior driving skills ensured we recovered easily. Stephen said that going into a corner and sliding through it like that (with understeer) would be highly rated by the men from Top Gear and that would make us real ‘Petrol Heads’ (even though the Beast drinks Diesel I don’t think she would mind).
As with most things in Namibia, you pretty much drive for ever and not see a farm or town. It took us about 2 hours before we hit Gochas which was the first town since we left Mata Mata. We had to stretch our legs and refueled and unfueled (the ladies). And then we were off again. The Whiters didn’t stop and we only caught up with them when they stopped at the next town (Stampriet) which was about another 75 km down the road. That was where we enjoyed Namibian tar for the first tar. It was also our first Namibian road block. Why you would put up a road block in a place that only about 5 cars will pass all day is the question I have been pondering since we went through it. And they did the road block straight outside the police station. Element of surprise I suppose.
We stopped for lunch just outside Stampriet and then on to Mariental. We are staying at Mariental tonight. We are at Anandi Guesthouse (www.anandiguesthouse.com/) for the night. It the same place we stayed at 5 years ago. And the quality remains the same. If you ever need to stay over in Mariental, this would be our recommendation. The boys and I went into town for 2 purchases – Namibian SIM cards (which we had to get 4 of to ensure everyone was connected again) and biltong. We found both. Paul will be pleased that there was no requirement to be RICA’d or any other ‘namby pamby’ such Western legislation. Just pay cash and get the SIM cards. The biltong was a little harder to find – we drove the town flat until we found Wessie’s Biltong Shop. Wessie himself was there and we conducted the whole transaction in Afrikaans. Wessie told me about his daughter and apologised they had no Springbok biltong. The Kudu biltong was cheaper than the Beef. We bought both. The boys were standing with their mouths open that I could conduct such an extensive conversation in Afrikaans. I was proud of myself.
We had an extra hour to kill of the afternoon because Namibia is on it’s own time zone and is an hour behind SA (i.e. on same time as the UK now). Why they have done it I have no idea. It was ‘pitch dark’ outside by 5:30pm this evening. Helen and two the Whiters went for a run around Mariental and ended up coming back in the dark. It got dark very quickly. Fortunately they found their way back from the bread crumbs they dropped. The rest of us were just enjoying the use of the free WiFi and trying to catch up on Facebook, Email, Whatsapp etc.
The guesthouse arranged dinner for us – they don’t really have a restaurant but they will cook a plate of food for you if requested (what you would call ‘n bord kos’ here in Namibia). We had Chicken Schnitzel, Vegetables, Chips and Salad. The Whiters had pizzas. We got the better deal. (Food details given for you Josie). The rest of the evening has been spent catching up on emails, blogging (for me) and for Helen it would be watching a 4×4 racing competition (racing isn’t the right word – more like a skills challenge). Not kidding about Helen!
Until tomorrow from somewhere else far away in Namibia … P, H, C, M & (the least important because he has been insulting me the whole day) S.
PS: I said in the previous post that we saw a Civit and actually it was a Genet. The biology teaching (Mr Whiter who is traveling with us) gave us wrong information but we corrected it with the use of our mammal book.