Sunday, 21 May 2017

South African Road Trip 2016; The Kgalagadi Park. Kieliekrankie, Bitterpan and Nossob

1/10/2016-It was time to leave the lush surroundings of River Place Manor in Upington, and we needed an early start as we were heading North again, into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.


goodbye Upington


I had booked the accommodation in the park through the South African Parks Board booking office 12 months prior to this trip. Even booking that far in advance I had not got what I wanted so we were doing an odd route. The park was known as The Kalahari Gemsbok Nation Park until 1999 when it merged with the Botswana parks to be known as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park; the parks board also refer to the Northern Parks as The Arid Parks.
We were only staying on the South African side of the park, if you do want to cross into Namibia or Botswana as with any international crossing you do need a passport. All passport control is done at Twee Rivieren even if you exit the park into Namibia or Botswana.
The Kgalagadi is colossal, it is larger than many countries and one of the largest National Parks in the world. The Nossob river bed unites both side of the park and is the boarder between South African and Botswana.
We travelled from Upington to the park gates at Tween Rivieren via the dorp of Askham, the road was tar and straight, passing many salt pans on the way. At Askham we got fuel as we had been advised that the parks fuelling station was out of order.  Askham was odd, one filling station, one everything shop and a Booze shop; or Bottle Shop. People in their best dress were lined up at the cash machine getting cash, walking over to the bottle shop and getting alcohol, drinking it in one go and then were dancing in the street to very loud music emitting from a parked minibus - prostitutes were also in abundance! All I could think was that as it was Saturday was it payday?
Local transport in the far Northern Cape


Askham Trading Store

Askham Trading Store, it had everything



Askham Northern Cape
Dancing in the street in Askham
At Tween we checked in at the large parks board building. The roads to this point had been good, but now they  deteriorate and although the literature states you can stay on the South African side of the park with a two- wheel drive car I do not agree with this and think you would get stuck in the deep sandy roads.
Tween Rivieren Northern Cape
Tween Rivieren

Tween Rivieren Northern Cape

Our first night was in the Wilderness Camp of Kieliekrankie in a Dune Cabin. It was a little over an hours drive from Tween. The camp is perched on a high sand dune with views over the red surrounding dunes. The camp is unfenced and the units overlook a watering hole. Each unit has its own bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and Briaa area, you must bring every thing with you....there are no shops! I have seen on Trip Advisor complaints about Mice and Insects, FFS your in the Kalahari Desert if you want sterility stay in an All Inclusive in Spain.
Units at Kieliekrankie
Leopard Proof Entrance to the Units at Kieliekrankie

Units at Kieliekrankie

 Kieliekrankie

Units at Kieliekrankie

Kitchen in Units at Kieliekrankie




Bedroom in Units at Kieliekrankie

Bathroom in Units at Kieliekrankie

Deck at  Kieliekrankie
We had a comfortable stay at Kieliekrankie and saw a wild cat with a mouse in it mouth, except we thought it was a domestic cat at first, then though why would a domestic cat be out here! But that was all we saw, but for peace and quiet and an amazing sunset this was it!
The next day we had a very long drive to Nossob, to check into the trail taking us to the next wilderness camp, Bitterpan. This is only accessible with a 4x4 ( no trailers) the rout can only be travelled in one direction from Nossob to Mata-Mata. The drive was thrilling, real Dune bashing, we took 5 attempts to get up one dune and really didn't think we would make it but we did. The camp was small and overlooked a huge pan and there were 4 chalets, each with its own bathroom and a communal kitchen and boma.
Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

 

Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

Bitterpan Wilderness Camp
Again at Bitterpan we saw nothing- in terms of game, but were did get woken up by a Leopard on our roof!! We enjoyed a night of wine and good company round the fire and star gazing. Don't come to the Kalahari for night life unless its a campfire and star- gazing.
The drive out was not as challenging as the drive in, the roads were firmer. but we had to head to Mata Mata then double back to our next stop Nossob Rest Camp, home for the next 2 nights. We did see two Kalahari Black Mane Lions on this drive.
Nossob has 18 chalets, a shop, a hide and a swimming pool so is great for families and there were a lot of children at Nossob so it was a lively camp. Out Chalet had one bedroom with bathroom and a briaa area. The hide was amazing for bird life and we saw loads of kills at the hide all be it Hawks killing small birds.
Road to Nossob

Nossob Chalet

Swimming pool at Nossob

Dinner!