2015 Kgalagadi – Day 2

The first unforgettable Kgalagadi trip!

Friday – 2015/09/25

As per normal, we were out of bed quite early. We had a long road ahead of us and we still had to go put up our tent when we arrived at Twee Rivieren… Aunt Mara prepared a lovely breakfast, while we took turns to wash away the sleep and get our luggage back in the bakkie.

We said our good buys and just before leaving town, we stopped at the Spar for ice. The liquor store next door was not formally open yet, but they were busy receiving stock… which was lucky for us, as they allowed us, with very friendly service, to stock up on our assortment of drinks. Just to be sure we had enough for the hot days to come.

We passed Hotazel on our way to Van Zylsrus and when we hit the first piece of dirt road, we had to stop to let out air out of the tires. This is always the formal start to the adventure, when taking a bush trip.

The Christoff-pose, while deflating the tires
Northern Cape farmers on the dirt road to Van Zylsrus.

While the men were busy with the tires, the people from the Northern Cape just proofed once again their difference to people from Gauteng…

Dirk and Morné stopped next to the bakkie to make sure everything was in order. They gave us advice regarding the appropriate tire pressure for the dirt roads in the area and when Grandpa Ampie indicated he grew up in the area, they talked about the people still living in the area and who possibly could now be living on the farm where he was raised.

The “shortcut” to the Kgalagadi takes you via Van Zylsrus and since Grandpa Ampie knew the area, we drove into the small town to let him see if and how it changed since he was there last.

Welcome to Van Zylsrus

According to Grandpa Ampie it looks totally different. The no-grass-only-sand rugby field in the dry riverbed was no longer there and he recalled how they played there when he was young.


We took a breather – and emptied our bladders – for a pop into the town’s hotel. It was still a bit early, but definitely not too early to quench our thirst with a self-mixed-beer-shandy and thus followed the instructions on the welcome board into town. Relax!

Toasting the trip with a beer shandy at the Van Zylsrus Hotel
Van Zylsrus street signs…

However, we decided not to follow the instructions on the street posts. 🙂 

We decided to go looking for the grave yard before leaving, as one of Grandpa Ampie’s friends from his early years were buried in town. The friend’s life was cut short after a swimming pool incident.

We found his grave and after a few emotional moments there, we got back into the bakkie and took the turn to Askham. We listened to stories of Grandpa Ampie’s younger years, while Escapé’s tires crunched on the dirt road.

Our portable dirt road one-stop.

Soon we started getting peckish and decided to find a spot to dig into the tasty leftovers that Aunt Mara packed for us. Finding a spot with shade on the Askham road was a bit difficult, but we managed to find one, where we set up our own little one-stop.

We drove passed a number of sociable weaver nests and I made Christoff stop once or twice in order to take pictures… Little did I know that the most beautiful tree was waiting in the Kgalagadi.

Before turning onto the Upington-Kgalagadi tar road, we stopped in Askham to fill up on fuel. The temperature gauge showed around 40 oC at that point.

The shop at the back of the garage offered fire wood and a few snacks. We treated ourselves with ice cream. This was the last town before we would stop at Twee Rivieren gate – about 75 km away.

The last stretch of road was tar, but the red sand dunes and short wind mill made up for it. We didn’t stop to take pictures, however, as the watch was ticking away and the Kgalagadi’s whispers became clearer and clearer. (See day 6 for pictures of the dunes and wind mill)

And then we arrived!

Christoff and I at the Kgalagadi welcome board.

Arriving at Twee Rivieren was a big moment for us… After all the planning and waiting and build-up, we were finally here! Even with the heat wave, we first had to capture the moment for future memories.

After wrapping up the paperwork at reception, we went searching for a stand for the next 2 nights… We stretched our legs by taking a quick walk around the camp and having a look at the distances to the other camps… AND we bought our first sticker for Escapé!

Kgalagadi sticker on Escapé

We found a spot on the quiet side of the camping area, but decided to first get the gazebo and chairs out. These were properly sun baked as it were stored on top of the canopy. But, once the gazebo was up, we could relax in the shade it provided, while waiting for the worst heat to pass. This was done with a cool one in hand,  fresh from the cool box… But, typical to the Gouws men, they didn’t sit around too long before unpacking the bakkie and pitching the tent up.

Kgalagadi camps and distances

It wasn’t long before our home-for-2-nights were standing and we could start up our Kalahari TV. We watched the flames fora while and then upgraded to the smell of marinated T-bone sizzling on the grill.

2-night homestead in Twee Rivieren

Once the meat was ready, it wasn’t long before our plates were emptied and we headed off to brush our teeth, wash the day from our bodies and headed off to bed. It was a long, exciting day and we couldn’t wait for what the next, formal-first-day, in the Kgalagadi would bring. We floated off to sleep easily… until an uninvited guest woke us from our slumber.

In our puppy-state, we only closed up the leftover bones in a bag on the kitchen table. The smell that made our mouths water, did the same for a roaming wild cat, that came scavenging around camp… I woke up from the sniffing and biting sounds at the grill, that we placed on the cement table. But then the cat picked up the scent from the tasty leftover bones in the tent. When it tried to get into the tent through the hole we left for the electricity cable, Grandpa Ampie woke up as well. This startled the cat enough to abandon the quest for food in our tent and it disappeared into the night.

For more adventures, have a look at the other daily posts from the introduction. Or click here to go to the next day.

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