Road Trip 2013 – Mata Mata, Kgalagadi

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Day 13, 14 & 15 (Rehoboth/Mata Mata KTP)

We left Rehoboth at 06:30 Namibian Time (07:30 SAST) – we set our phones and watches back to SAST the night before to ensure that we don’t feel like we are losing any time. It would be our last day driving on Namibian roads and we were hoping that we wouldn’t be disappointed in the up-to-now excellent quality roads as our last bit of the drive (approaching the border post) would be on 260km of dirt road.

We were not, we were impressed. The gravel road was in impeccable condition – we were able to drive 80km/h the entire way. If not for the turns in the road, 100km/h would have been possible.

Along this stretch of road, we were able to see the first signs of the Kalahari Desert. The dunes were impressive, although, not at all what I imagined… I probably just had the stereotypical desert look in my head (rolling dunes with no flora at all).

Namibia Dessert
We decided to stop to stretch our legs and used the opportunity to take some pictures of the two vehicles driving and kicking up some impressive dust. The results were pretty cool! Once we had completed the task at hand, two more off road vehicles drove past and I took pictures of them… they seemed unimpressed (the one even stopped to ask if we were ok – kind).
We were getting slightly restless as we had been on the road for quite a few hours by then, luckily only about 80km to go to the Mata Mata Border Post.

Mata Mata Border

Namibia – South Africa Border

The formalities at the Namibian Border Post were quick and painless – which was the case for our entire trip, what a pleasure!
We checked in for our 2 night stay in Mata Mata at the SAN Parks office. To our surprise, we were not stamped back into RSA. For the next few days we belonged to nobody – in no man’s land. Interesting concept. We were only required to clear customs and immigration at the Twee Rivieren Gate. We received our park permit for the duration of our stay. Each time we wished to enter the park, we had to pick it up at reception and drop it off on our return. A good policy considering how many things could go wrong on a drive – the possibility of being stuck within the park was real & daunting.
We finally got around to choosing a site (after much deliberation – with little choice) and started setting up camp. I was having major symmetry issues with the ground sheets and tents, needless to say I made Daryl a bit irritated when he had to move the tent (Again!) hehe. It all got sorted out in the end and we were all happy with our, yet again, homely site.
Once we’d all had a thirst quencher, we picked up the permit and headed into the park for a short drive. We saw an abundance of vultures and springbok, and not much else. We did however discover the one thing that would possibly taunt our stay in the KTP – the condition of the roads. The roads were severely corrugated which made the driving terribly uncomfortable for us, nevermind the damage it may cause to our camera equipment or to Ed.
When we returned to camp, the topic of discussion was dinner. Apparently, I am an indecisive person and dinner plans weren’t decided on quickly. We went back and forth between canned food and 2 minute noodles. Daryl then threw a spanner in the works and insisted on making our most awesomely delicious braai bread. In the end, I put my foot down and we had 2 minute noodles with left over braai meat (from our last night in Okaukuejo). It was a great decision – perfect warm dinner for a very cold night!
It was by far the coldest night on the trip to date and we decided to make use of the Gluhwein which had travelled 1000’s of kilometres (literally) with us already. We sat around our fire with the gas heater on and indulged in the warm Gluhwein. Once we had all warmed up inside, it was time for bed – definitely not ideal weather to be sleeping in a tent!
It was ops normal when we woke up – gas bottle being ignited. This time however, coffee was second priority to the heater as it was only 0° (coldest temperature we experienced on the entire trip).
We headed out for day 2 at Mata Mata and were pleasantly surprised with a pretty exciting day of sightings. Most weren’t any good to photograph, however, still pretty amazing to see. 2 Cheetahs walking in the distance, a leopard walking across the river bed , and a cheetah lying on a dune.

Mata Mata Leopard

We were witness to an almost jackal hunt of springbok. There were about 6 jackals surrounding a herd of springbok (with many babies). The scene was perfect, but the animals were truly just playing games. The jackals would chase the springbok, they’d run and then stop because they were distracted by the grass which they had to eat. All in all, it was a half-hearted attempt which gave us a good laugh!

Kgalagadi
At the major sightings, the KTP had a Kruger National Park vibe – congestion and a lack of game park etiquette. It is very frustrating when you are not even interested in a sighting, yet you are unable to pass because of the “traffic jam”. In Kruger’s defense, the roads are usually in excellent condition. The KTP has to come up with a more sustainable way of keeping the roads in a better state – creating loop roads may assist as all the traffic is on one main road between Mata Mata and Twee Rivieren.
We were very conscious on our drives about hydrating (or over hydrating) as the bathroom stops were hours apart. As in Etosha, this is a problem that definitely needs to be looked into!
On arrival at camp, we were all exhausted – 160km on severely corrugated roads is not for sissies! Dinner was a quick decision – toasted cheese sarmies on the braai (Delicious!).
Sitting around the fire, I heard jackals in the distance and the only thing going through my mind was how happy I was that they stayed in the park and left our camp site alone. The last thing we needed was another episode of the jackal raid at Okaukeujo, Etosha hehe!
We had an early night to prepare for the early rise and long drive ahead to Twee Rivieren (120km) the following day.

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