The attraction of the Kalahari was well established with us before our arrival and while we were prepared for the heat and the vastness of the place, we hadn’t expected it to be quite so green. Parts of southern Africa have received some much needed rainfall recently and as a result this corner of South Africa has adopted a much lusher appearance; we even met a few folks who had made the journey specifically to witness these unique conditions. This did present us with a bit of a quandary though, as we had spent the past couple of weeks describing to the girls in great detail what they should expect to see during our trip to the desert. The twelve hours of rain shortly after our arrival only added to their general confusion. Mum and Dad’s home-schooling was starting to lose credibility.
The first day delivered our first puncture of the trip and a less-than-satisfactory repair job ensured a far more gingerly approach over the next thousand kilometres. The camps of Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob were dry and dusty affairs, but the old adage that absence of phone reception usually correlates to more worthwhile places was once again substantiated, as we enjoyed the remoteness of these camps. Indeed, it was the general routine of camp life which provided most entertainment and even included regular athletic meetings in an attempt to burn some energy after the daily drives. Astonishingly, no one else was keen to join in.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park straddles South Africa, Botswana and Namibia and is famed for – among other things – its big cats, and on this front it duly delivered; with leopard, lion and cheetah all popping up to say hello. Much to the disappointment of our group though, no unicorns on this occasion.
During this leg more than any other, we did seem to draw a few comments of surprise that we would venture into this part of the world with such a young party. In reality though, the children appear to be far more resilient than most adults. Seemingly unfazed by the stifling weather, the sleeping conditions or the dwindling food supplies, they maintained an unwavering level of energy and enthusiasm throughout, and this injection of youth seemed to be refreshingly well-received by our various camp ground neighbours.
This has been a very memorable fortnight and certainly represents one of the highlights of our trip, but having exhausted our coffee supplies and having realised that we were down to our final two nappies, it was time to leave the park in order to restock in the pleasant Northern Cape town of Kakamas. The Kalahari did not disappoint.