Last night at 1:30am we were woken up by party revelers returning to their rooms at the Blue Nartjie (www.nartjie.co.za/). Besides that interruption to our sleep we had a good nights rest. When we woke up this morning at 7:30am it was 6 degrees outside but it felt much colder. We had booked breakfast for 8am and enjoyed the simple breakfast of coffee & bacon and eggs. While having breakfast our friends who are traveling with us joined us, also wandered in. You didn’t hear about them last night because they left Cape Town so late they only arrived after midnight. Being good friends we got their key from them which was probably a good thing as I couldn’t imagine the owner still being awake at that point. I don’t have permission to mention them by name so I will just call them the Browner’s (for want of a better name).
We agreed to leave when we were ready and given we finished our breakfast about 45 minutes before them and our car was already packed, we hit the road at 9am. We were continuing to make our way north to Augrabies National Park. The road is marked out by three things:
1. Road works
2. Nothing but the occasional bush
3. Road works
One thing is for sure is that they are spending money on upgrading roads in the Northern Cape. But there really is nothing to see. You leave Calvinia and drive for about 150 kms before hitting the next town (Brandvlei) and then another 150 kms before you hit Kenhardt. I am starting to see some validity to Michael’s question about why anyone would be born here. On this stretch of 300 km of road, Helen was fast asleep for 299 kms while the rest of us discussed the world’s banking system (including a quick lesson on the gold standard), the flood (Noah’s one), the fall of mankind (Adam & Eve’s one), the Covenants (God’s ones), bridge building, farming (including the biggest improvement in efficiency in farming in the last 400 years) and a few other minor subjects. Helen is now way behind in the conversations stakes. Helen was involved in the conversation about who is better looking – Stephen or Michael. Apparently Michael asked the question to Stephen’s girlfriend recently and she hesitated long enough to convince Michael that if he wasn’t 3 years younger than her, it would be him dating her and not Stephen. (Any comments on that Brian & Sharon? You’ll have to ask you know who because she doesn’t subscribe to the blog.)
We did stop twice at petrol stations. Once because Chloe needed to empty her tank and once because we needed to fill up the Beast. The Beast is what American’s call a gas guzzler. So far she has drunk 12.5 liters per 100 kilometers. I thought that was bad until a random stranger wandered up to me while I was waiting for all the family to empty their tanks and told me his car (with a minor technical problem) was doing 20 liters per 100 kilometers. When you drive a 4×4 and you’re heading north from Calvinia you are suddenly a friend of every other person with a 4×4 as well.
We also passed through Keimoes (where you meet the Orange River for the first time and cross it twice) and then onto to Kakamas (where I was reliability informed they have the best dance place in the area – people even come from Upington on a Saturday night to langarm there). From Kakamas it is only a short 20 minutes until you get to the Augrabies National Park and after checking in we headed to our accommodation which turned out to be exactly the same one we had the last time we stayed here. The Browner’s arrived about an hour and 30 minutes after us (after stopping for some sightseeing in Keimoes and Kakamas we believe). Mr Browner (again we believe) took their new car up to 185 km/h on a stretch of road today to see how fast it could go. While there were some very straight sections of the road, I am a law abiding citizen and would never consider driving over 170 km/h on any section of that road.
We did go out for a late afternoon drive in the National Park itself. There is not a lot of wildlife but some beautiful landscapes and quite good birding generally. Helen decided to go with the Browner’s and Chloe decided to stay in the camp so that left me and two sons. As I am a law abiding citizen I would never let them drive without a license but if I did I would let Stephen drive out to where we would turn around and Michael drive back again (because I am a fair Dad). We got back at about 6:15pm (ahead of the Browner’s who were taking photos of the sunset). We never saw anything spectacular on the drive except a giraffe on the mountain with the sun setting behind it.We also saw Springbok and Zebra and our bird list is now up to 17 species for the trip (no lifers though).
The mandatory braai for supper followed by a quick walk and view of the Augrabies Falls which are now lit up by flood light at night from 8-10pm. They are really impressive at night maybe more so than during the day. I googled how long tomorrow’s drive is and while it says it is only 448 kms, Google tells me that it will take 7 hours 50 minutes to get there (we think because a significant section is on gravel road). Time will tell. If you don’t hear from us for the next few days it is because we are without any mobile phone signal. Even the last 2 days have been challenging posting the blog. So don’t panic, it will just be a temporary interlude if you don’t hear from me tomorrow pm.