It was time to break free again.. and to answer the call of the wild... After a lot of planning and research we finally got all our stuff together for a fantastic break-away to the Botswana side of Kgalagadi TFP.
Our initial plan was to go in thru the RSA side of the park but getting hold of any kind of campsite on "our" side proved to be completely impossible. We managed to book 4 nights on the BW side, 3 at Mpaya-1 and 1 and Mabua-4. This was easy, and the people from the BW side are very friendly and helpful. After much to-ing and fro-ing we decided to ditch the RSA side all together and go straight to the BW side.
In order to do this we planned our itinerary thus:
Traveling from Cape Town to McCarthy's was a long haul, so we decided to visit SKA country! One night in Carnavon. We have been there before, and had coffee in the Lemon Tree coffee shop, but we never slept over, and here was the perfect opportunity. From there it would be another day's drive to get to the border. The plan was to spend 2 nights at the Cullinan Guest Farm approx 7km from the McCarthy's Rest border post. We wanted to do this to try out our camping gear and getting into the groove... and also to make sure we didnt forget anything at home. We live in a house most of the time, so getting used to tent-camping takes a day or 2.. After that we had no real hard and fast plans.. Get into the "Park", check out the lions and stuff, get out, and sleep somewhere near Kang, then go check out Gobabis... The unplanned events are the best ones... To be continued... pics are still uploading.. Oh.. here's a taster... it was COLD!!
Day 1 - 31 August 2013
We left Brackenfell at 09h00 on a wet and cold Saturday morning. First stop was Ceres where we saw lots of snow around. Temperature was [dc]6[/dc] at 11h20 just before the Theronsberg pass.Taking the R355 towards Calvinia we passed thru the Tankwa Karoo and stopped for a coffee at the Tankwa Farm Stall. Lots of people gathered around there, all on their way to the Hantam Vleisfees at Calvinia. It was still very cold. On our way we saw cars and bakkies approaching from the front all splattered in mud, but the road we were on was dry. At first we thought it was just local farmers who had to deal with their we plaaspaadjies, but shortly after our lunch stop we saw the reason for the muddy vehicles. The top 2 inches of the road surface was a slippery muddy sludge, and putting a wheel outside of the existing tracks saw the Hilux doing broadies and sliding all over the show. We slowed down to approx 30km/h just to keep the car on the road. Before long the whole Hilux was covered in mud. We were relieved to hit the tar again just before Calvinia. At least now we could relax a little. The hills around the town also had a light dusting of snow, and it was bitterly cold. But the Hantam Vleisfesers had a good time by the look of things. Outside Calvinia we drove through a light hail shower, which washed some of the mud off the Hilux and left it with an ostrich leather look... First fuel stop was Williston and we got fresh 50ppm diesel.. times they are a-changin... The rest of the way to Carnavon was pretty uneventful, late afternoon with the sun from behind we made quick time to get to SKA country. We spent the night at Ikhaya self catering cottages in town. Overnight temps plummeted and there was some frost on the ground the next morning.
Day 2 - 1 Sept 2013
After a very nice dinner at the Meerkat Restaurant in Carnavon we were ready for an early start. It was Sunday, and we were heading towards our first camping night of the trip, at Cullinan Guest Farm near McCarthy's. We had quite a long drive ahead of us so we were eager to get going. As I said before there was frost around.. It became slightly warmer as we traveled north via Prieska. We crossed the might Orange River at the Frans Loots bridge.. built in 1970.. I am not saying a word... Shortly after crossing the Orange River we turned off towards Griekwastad. The dirt roads were badly corrugated and full of loose stones. But our trusty Hilux took it on like a pro, smoothing out all the bumps and we poshed on past Griekwastad towards Postmasburg. Then approx 20km before Postmasburg I felt that there was something amiss. Right... Left rear tyre was flat, well not completely yet, it was still hissing. We settled in for a repair job, got comfy and out came the compressor and the snot plugs. The tyre was cut quite badly by a stone right on the edge of the tread. Not wanting to go all the way and changing the tyre, I decided to plug it and see if it held out, at least until we got into town. It lasted fine, and in town we filled up with some more nice 50ppm diesel, did a spot of last minute shopping at the Spar, I angled the mirror so I could check the state of the left rear tyre from time to time, and headed out towards Kathu, and McCarthy's. About 30km outside of Postmasburg I looked back and saw that the left rear tyre was losing air again. We pulled over, and made quick plans. It seems that the puncture was too close to the edge of the tread to be fixed with a snot plug, and that the previous plug I put in was missing. Not wanting to venture out into the unknown with only 1 spare, we decided to plug the hole, only this time I needed 2 plugs to plug the hole... We headed back towards town. BUT we forgot one small detail... it was Sunday afternoon and everything was closed!! We ended up sleeping over in Postmasburg. Finding overnight accommodation in Postmasburg on a Sunday is a nightmare, but we settled for a room at Andrisha Lodge and Motel, where we braaied a lekker steak and settled for a early night. This put us 1 day behind schedule, but we were having fun and nobody was complaining...
Day 3 - 2 Sept 2013
Monday morning saw us up and about bright and early and our first stop was TrenTyre. Here the young saleman was adamant that they cannot plug the tyre and was ready to sell me a replacement for a mere R2260.00. My reply was that we needed to remove the tyre from the rim anyway and that we should check to see what the damage looks like on the inside before we make any hasty (costly) decisions. On the lift.. Once the tyre was off the rim it was clear that although it was a pretty big hole, it would be possible to plug it with a big mushroom plug. A guy called Lappies came over, checked it all out and agreed that the tyre was still usable. Luckily I never drove it "on the rim" so no sidewall damage occurred. I told them to go ahead, and 30 minutes later, and R125 poorer we were on our way again. Included in the R125 was 4 spare mushroom plugs for future use. By now we were quite gatvol of driving up and down the main road of Postmasburg, and I think the locals were getting gatvol of us too. From Postmasburg it was tar road all the way past Kathu and Hotazel. We breezed thru these towns, had a quick look around and before long we were back on the dirt roads. The weather was getting nice and warm as well. Still holding out.. Cowboy Country.... with air guns.. When we arrived at Cullinan, there was nobody home. We drove to the camp site, and found it open. There was cellphone reception so I called the owner of the farm, who said they were on their way somewhere but she would send somebody to sort us out. We had the entire place to ourselves. We quickly set up camp and relaxed in the warm afternoon sun. Campsite at Cullinan Guest Farm Die Boskantoor Ablutions Stook die donkie.. One of the bungalows has a nice lapa so we decided that we'll have a braai there, as there was light and a washing-up basin. Relaxing in the lapa Sunset... Lights out on another day on the road... tomorrow we hit the border and lion country... Day 4 - 3 Sept 2013 We woke up packed all our stuff and headed out for the border. The crossing was painless and quick and before we knew it we were driving on tar again. We drove to Tsabong, where we filled up with 500ppm diesel. I also filled the 2 jerries on the roof, just as a precaution. Last minute shopping which included 2 bags of charcoal brickets (just in case we needed some coals) and a quick look-see if Barclays Bank would allow me to withdraw Pulas with my bank card. No problems, we were sorted! The people in Tsabong were friendly and helpful, and a lot of them spoke Afrikaans as well. We took the Mabuasehube turn-off in town, and I realised that somehow I erased the T4A BW map from the GPS the night before. At the time it wasnt a real problem, but after a while we noticed that the road was not very well sign posted, so out came the laptop and I loaded the correct mapsets. The dirt road was quite good for about 50km, and then it turned into a swingy, bumpy, rutted sand track which had to be driven at speeds of slower than 30km/h for stretches. The sand was incredibly soft and heavy and even on deflated tyres I sometimes had to go down to 3rd gear to keep the whole rig going. Thank goodness I wasnt towing a trailer. Checking into Mabuasehube was a very quick affair, and before we know it we were on the sand track on our way to Mapaya Pan. We arrived at our campsite and set up camp. We had one of the prime spots. Mpaya-1, where the lions camp. Of course we were pretty much on edge, so we tried to secure the camp as much as we could. Needless to say, we made dinner, showered, and got ready for bed before the sun set below the horizon. The we nervously sat around watching a brown hiena trundling past our fire about 10 meters away. At about 20h00 we were in the RTT listeneing to the night noises. Nothing much happened that night, it was peaceful and quiet... and we had a good night's sleep... TBC... Day 5 - 4 Sept 2013 The day breaks bright and sunny, and we have our first visitor. Our bookings were a bit jumbled, so we had to move camp today to Mabuasehube Pan (Mabua 4). Also we realised that the charcoal makes a crappy fire, and we needed to go collect some firewood. So we had a busy day ahead of us, but luckily the distances are short. As we near Mabua Pan we came across this poor soul. Looks like he has been abandoned for a few days already. We pitched our camp at the Mabua campsite, and unloaded some of the "heavy" stuff and set off towards the entrance gate to collect firewood outside the park. On our way around Mabua Pan we came across a couple in a Pajero who told us of a group of lions lying under the trees on the Khiding Pan road. Not on our way, but we decided to make the detour anyway. We were not disappointed!! This is what we came for!! Absolutely awesome, and the photos (and my crappy photographic skills) dont do them justice!! After collecting a sizable amount of firewood on a cutline about 2km outside the park we stopped off at the East Gate camp for a piepie break. They have running water and flush loo's here. The solar geiser was designed by the same guy who designed the fly-overs in Cape Town. The pipes don't quite meet up!!.. Back at our campsite we lounged around, relaxed a little and in the afternoon we baked some bread. After dinner, nice fresh bread and a braai, it was lights out time again. We were not as nervous here as we were at Mpaya, because all our research showed that lion movement at Mabua was very limited. Nonetheless we were ever vigilant and shortly after dark we looked up the safety of our RTT. So far we were having a ball! Mabuasehube did not disappoint, we saw our first lions, and we are settling into the whole camping routine nicely.
A quick pictorial lesson on how to keep the Kalahari dust out of your hair. Presented by an expert in the field. You need a Buff, a cap and a bit of attitude... Now you know!!
Day 6 - 5 Sept 2013
Once again we are up and about just after dawn. It is a warm morning, and we need to break up camp again. Back to Mpaya-1 where we came from. Our solar showerbag finds the perfect home, on the bonnet, where the sun heats it from the top and the engine from below. This is the first time we used a solar shower and it worked great! The water was warm anough for a nice shower and we managed to squeeze more than 2 showers out of the 20 liter bag. In the end we managed 2 showers each on one bag of water. We drove up the Khiding Pan road again to look for the pride of lions we saw the previous day, but they moved on. Here is the turn-off towards Nossob on the RSA side of Kgalagadi. As we neared Mpaya Pan 2 ladies in a Prado came from the front and we started chatting. There was a pride of lions up ahead, blocking the road. They managed to squeeze past. The lions just killed a gemsbok and was busy eating. We were very excited!! About 3km further up the road, this is what we saw! After sitting there watching them for about an hour, they cleared the road and as we drove off this little one waved goodbye... See ya later!! This was exactly 1.9km from where we would be camping for the next 2 days. Excitement mounted as we set up camp. We knew they would be passing thru our campsite that nite, as the water hole is right on the other side of our campsite. And anybody who has ever had a belly full of gemsbok on a warm sunny day, will know how thirsty that makes you!! We planned our setup better this time, blocking off the one entrance to the A-frame using the Hilux with the RTT entrance easily accessible from inside the barricade. It was still early and we knew the cats wouldn't be coming along any time soon, so we relaxed a little, but we kept an eye on the road. I even had to to set the solar panels up to charge the deep cycle battery And out field expert had time to shave her legs for the occasion. The ground squirrels were amazed at the sight and called all their little friends to come and watch... Every now and then people came along and asked us if we knew about the lions. That way we got feedback on their position until late in the afternoon. We made a fire on the open side of the A-frame, had a braai. Once again we were ready for bed by the time the sun set, and as I walked towards the back of the A-frame something told me to look up...... There he was, etched against the evening skyline. A young male lion waiting for the rest of the pride to come along the road. Barely 20m away from me. I got ice cold from head to toe, and told E to move her freshly shaven legs and get in the RTT. In a flash we were up there, adrenalin pumping. By now it was quite dark, and as she shone the flashlight up the road we saw the eyes reflecting the light. I only managed to get 2 shots off with the camera in all the confusion.. It was such a rush, sitting there on the RTT ladder with the lions walking past me barely 5m away. All in all we counted 12 lions in the pride.... And as soon as it started it was over again. They disappeared into the bushes towards the water hole. All night long they were roaring, grunting and snoring less that 200m away from us. This was the highlight of our whole trip so far! We didnt sleep much that night... TBC............... Day 7 - 6 Sept 2013 Rest day at Mpaya-1. We decided because of all the to-ing and fro-ing of the past few days that we were going to hang around the A-frame all day long and spend time with the little guys. It's not all about the lions you know? Anyway they're such a noisy bunch we hardly slept a wink the night before with all their gallivanting in the bushes at all hours.. Who do they think they are?? The king of the jungle?? Some of the tracks thru our camp the next morning... See the grey-green bush on the left? See the little hill beside the bush, next to the road? That is where the bugger stood when I first became aware of them the night before.... Anyway, the lions were down at the water hole, we could see them with our binoculars, but they were too far away to photograph. We walked around the campsite a bit more and found this interesting tree. It looks like the trunk gets climbed regularly by some big cat, and on the flat branches to the left it looks like there was some kind of "nest" with grass padding. Could this tree be a base camp for a leopard? From this tree the view over the pan is spectacular, a perfect place to spy on potential prey? I dont know leopards well enough, maybe somebody can help us out here... Our field expert also had time to wash her hair.. "just because were camping does not mean we have to live like savages"... Herds of blue wildebeest crossed the pan during the day. On their way to the water hole, despite the lions being there.. And the vultures also came out to play... Besides the occasional roar from the bushes we didnt have any more lion action at Mpaya-1. But it didnt mean we let our guard down. It was back into the same old routine. Shower-hour at Mpaya-1 Damn she's quick!! The little one came out to say goodnight.. And another perfect sunset on a relaxing Kalahari day... TBC............. Days 8 & 9 - 7/8 Sept 2013 And so dawn breaks over our last day at this magical place. We thoroughly enjoyed our 4 days in Mabuasehube, even though we were scared witless most of the time, We will most definitely return, and stay longer, because it is well worth it. Once we broke up camp a very sick sounding dark blue 1989 Hilux D/C pulled up and out jumped a German couple. The guy was looking for water for the radiator. Water was pouring out the bottom of the radiator. he opened the bonnet and I saw that a 5MGE motor was fitted and that water was pushing out from the radiator cap. One engine mounting was non existent and the air-intake pipe was patched with duct tape. Wonderful stuff that!! The tap at our campsite was dry, so I sent him off to the Scout Camp about 2km up the road, where there were water tanks. We got going and at the gate we turned towards the north following a very wide sand road, and we made very good progress. About 30km before Hukuntsi the road took a turn for the worst. Potholes and ruts like you wont believe, but we took the sand track on the side, whice was not too bad. From Hukuntsi we were on tar again, all the way to Kang. At Kang we filled up with 500ppm diesel and I paid with my credit card. It was Saturday afternoon so all shops were closed. We were badly in need of some Vicks nasal spray, because our noses were blocked from the dust and the dry wind and we needed something to loosen the lot up. No luck here.. From Kang we continued north on the Trans kalahari Highway and stopped in at Kalahari Rest about 20km north of Kang. We got a nice campsite, and there were hot and cold running water, and flush toilets. We were very excited. Just a pity that the wind was getting a bit much. This dry northerly wind has been blowing in the afternoons for 2 days now. Mostly it was fine, but from time to time it came in quite strong gusts, blowing sand and dust into everything. We baked some bread again and had a late night watching the stars. Something we were to scared to do in Mabuasehube. We woke up the next morning and decided to stay another night... and we did.. we were alone in the entire campsite, and had the whole place to ourselves. While I was checking out the fridge in the morning to make sure everything was still frozen I noticed the left rear tyre was flat again. So Lappies's plug lasted all of 700km's. It was time for the spare to come on. Because we werent stuck next to the road, I took my time to change the wheel, but in the process the Hilux got a scratch from the Hi-Lift jack. Right on the side of the tailgate. Battle-scars.. Jacking up a fully loaded Hilux with any kind of jack is not an easy task, but it had to be done. During the afternoon the wind came up and our little dome tent said, "Enough!!" and promptly snapped one of its fibreglass poles. To top this the zip on the dome tent also decided that it didnt like the sand in its teeth and split wide open. Down came the tent and the fibreglass pole got "splinted" like a broken leg. The zipper we could not fix so we tried to close it up as much as we could. What was supposed to be a "rest day" turned into a work day and we went to bed tired. TBC............ Day 10 & 11 - 9 & 10 Sept 2013 The wind was getting to us and we packed up in a hurry at Kalahari Rest. Under different circumstances it is a very nice place to stay, but we were moving on. North again towards Ghanzi. Not that we wanted to do anything major in Ghanzi, we were only having a little bit of a look-see. We saw the beat up blue Hilux at a garage in Ghanzi, but by the time I got our Hilux turned around and managed to dodge some taxi's and pedestrians, a goat and 4 chickens, he was gone again. I withdrew some Pulas for future use, and we had lunch alongside the road at the CKGR turn-off. We seriously contemplated taking that turn-off.... Back to the Trans Kalahari Highway, and we headed out west towards the Namibian border. Not much happening for the rest of the way, except that the border crossing was once again very quick and easy. Once over the border in Namibia, at Buitepos we found 50ppm diesel, not that we needed any, but a fellow Hiluxer from Lydenburg with a D4D filled up there. We made our way to Zelda Game and Guest Farm, where we booked into a room... and a little bit of white sheets luxury... and sit down dinner, with grilled kudu fillets, gemsbok meatballs, sweet potatoes, veggies etc etc and a few drinks with our new friends from Lydenburg... The next day after a hearty breakfast, we had our laundry done by the friendly Zelda staff and took off to Gobabis (or Go-Babies) as we called it, to have the Hilux cleaned and to buy some meat, billies and droee wors. The guys at Spandiens really had their work cut out for them to rid the Hilux from the mud we have been carting along from Ceres/Calvinia. But they employed their high pressure washer, and soon the Hilux was sparkling white again. We got our meat supplies from Die Plaaskombuis, and with all that excitement we were on our way back to Zelda. Zelda is a really nice place. The owners created a real oasis in the middle of nothing. They have a very neat and tidy camp site with electricity, running water and lawn under some thorn trees for shade. We enjoyed our stay here, and will be back for sure. The last few days.. After Zelda we wanted to challenge ourselves a bit again. Drive from Zelda to Koes in the south without driving through a single town. A distance of 550km. We had enough diesel to cover the distance, and enough padkos, water, clothes (all clean now) meat, and drinks to last us 4 days if not more... So we plotted a route as close to the Namibian border as possible. I'll have to upload the GPS file, because I cannot really describe it in words. The roads we travelled on ranged from fairly okay dirt roads to 2-spoor sand tracks to really bumpy and corrugated farm tracks with about 30 gates to open and close along the way. The scenery was spectacular. We were travelling on the road never travelled, let alone less travelled. Only the local farmers use these roads. Rest asured, the road we were on are all public roads. Not once did we venture onto private land. We ended up driving down the Nossob River bed. When we got to a place called Twee Rivier, we took a left in stead of a right... wrong!! Our Garmin has been acting up a little and started rebooting every now and then and somehow lost the route I programmed into it. But once we got to Twee Rivier I was confident that we would find our way to the farm. I need some more experience, okay? The first sign post we saw in ages told us that we are headed towards Mata-Mata, which is in the complete wrong direction. But there was a 2-spoor sand track leading off to our right. We took it.. and we ended up driving approx 70km along the best sand tracks in existence on the planet. The best gate in Namibia!! We were WAY behind schedule, we were out of fuel, but we didnt care... Somewhere along the way we had to refuel from the jerries on the roof, and we made the farm with only enough juice left to get us to Koes, 40km away. Sundowners on a dune.. After spending 2 nights with family on the farm we decided that we didnt want to go home yet, so we packed for Rosh Pinah, where E's cousin lives. We filled up at Koes with 500ppm. It was a long drive to Rosh Pinah, but on good roads. In Keetmanshoop we stopped for some family business, bought lunch, called home, and tackled the tar roads. With the cruise control set at 120km/h we went past the Fish River, Goageb and eventually Aus, where we turned off. 166km from that point and about 200 mining trucks from the front we pulled into Rosh Pinah. Groot braai wereld!! We were only going to stay for 1 night, but we were convinced to watch the Bokke play the All Blacks on Saturday morning, and then we were convinced to stay and watch WP play the Bulls... at the Lodge.. bad decision.. really bad.. The Four Seasons Lodge in Rosh Pinah is the place that a few years ago held the record for the highest consumption of Jagermeister... IN THE WORLD!!! Oh my WORD!! And seeing as WP won, and I was the only WP supporter in the bar, everybody bought Jagermeisters to congratultae me and to drown their sorrows.... Long story short, we got home way too late that nite... In stead of leaving Rosh Pinah the next morning at 08h00 to cross the border at Sendelingsdrift, we only got away at about noon. Way too late!! We filled up again with 50ppm diesel. Crossing the border was once again an easy affair, and putting the life jacket onto my potsierlike lyfie was more of a hassle than the ride on the pontoon.. I was still busy tying the straps when the guys came to collect it. From Sendelingsdrift we headed south towards Lekkersing, and hit the Port Nolloth/Steinkopf tar road. From there it was plain sailing until we hit the N7, and, of course, road works!! There's not much I can say about the drive from Steinkopf to Klawer. The N7 is as boring and predictable as a polititian's speech, but by the time we reached Klawer we were both ready for bed. Although we hoped to make it all the way to Cape Town we decided that the roadworks past Clanwilliam in the dark was not going to be a whole heap of fun so we found a bed for the night and slept over. Not being in a hurry to get home the next morning, we took it easy over the mountain to Piketberg, stopped in at the Spur for a good brekkie and drove the last stretch home. We were both coming down with a cold, and it was raining and cold in Cape Town again. Almost like when we left... 16 days after we left, we hit the Cape of Storms again. We had a fantastic trip, and got much more than we bargained for. We been to places where we havent been before, and that is always good. Will we do it again? At a moment's notice yes!! Summaries and own impressions to follow. Also what worked and what didn’t…. Inside Mabuasehube: We knew that there was no facilities at Mabuasehube, so we made sure we could sustain ourselves for the period we would be staying there. Water: There is water available from the East Gate campsite near the entrance gate. I would not drink it, unless it was an emergency, but it is good for washing and cleaning. We had 70 liters of wash-water and about 35 liters of drinking water on board, which ended up to be too much. At our campsite (Mpaya-1) there was also a tap at the basins with running water during the day. Because we didnt expect any water we didnt even check it, but our neighbours came to fill their water containers daily. At Mabua pan there was nothing, not even in the waterhole on the pan. Toilets: Each campsite does have a long-drop toilet. They are usable, but we had a checmical porta-potty. A-Frames: The guy who designed these things shoudl get a Nobel Prize. The A-Frames makes camping so much more convenient. It provides shelter and a certain amount of protection from the wilder members of the wildlife fraternity that frequents these places. Campsites: We only stayed at 2 campsites (Mpaya-1 and Mabua-4) and after having a look around these were really the prime spots. Campsites were clean, and we took all our rubbish out with us. There are rubbish bins, but they dont get cleaned out regularly. Roads: Sandy tracks, 4x4 not really required, and only closer to the gate does it become corrugated. Overall Experience: 12 out of 10. We will be back, this is one of those places that speaks to the brain-stem. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. Being that close to the big cats really defines our (humans) place in the bigger scheme of things. The campsites are not expensive. Our 4 nights cost us P460 and that included park and vehicle fees. Other places we stayed at: Carnavon Ikaya Self Catering Cottages A nice place to spend the night. Very neat, tidy and not outrageously expensive. Postmasburg Not much to say. R600 for a night in a motel room with nothing more than a shower and a toilet. Bit much, but we couldnt find anything else. McCarthy's Rest Cullinan Guest Farm. Very nice campsites, ablutions are clean with warm and cold running water. Electricity points at the camp site as well as an under cover cement slab to pitch your tent. Only R80 per vehicle per night, Kang Kalahari Rest P100 per person per night. Big campsites with wind breaks, Hot and cold running water in the ablutions. They had ice and firewood available free of charge. Buitepost Zelda Guest & Game Farm They charge a lot for their rooms, we paid R440pppn including breakfast. We got a room the size of a ballroom with 1 double and 2 single beds. Their meals are very good and not too expensive. The barman is friendly and gave us good pointers on where to get meat and biltong in Gobabis. A real oasis in the wilderness. Klawer - Oasis Emergency stop. The building is the old Klawer Primary School, and I think we slept in the headmaster's office. Also got a family room, because it was all they had. Coffee is included in the morning but no breakfast. We paid R580 for the night. The rest of the time we abused family privileges and stayed "for free"... Diesel 50/500ppm Botswana is still 500ppm country, but in Namibia 50ppm is available in most places. Only in Koes we didnt get 50ppm. Prices are on average about R1/l cheaper than in RSA. Consumption Our fuel consumption on average (according to the Hilux trip computer) was 8.8 km/l. I am super impressed with that, because we were loaded high and heavy. On the open tar roads, I stuck to the speed limits, I also used the speed control a lot. On dirt we were in 4H, sometimes with seriously deflated tyres in the sand. According to our records the Hilux was lighter on fuel than on our trip to Epupa falls last year, even though we had more stuff on the roof, and my driving style was exactly the same as then. What DIDNT work for us... Eazy-Awn Awning I fitted the awning for this trip. First time with the RTT as well. It messed up our whole camping setup, because the tent had to open to the right hand side and the whole Hilux is rigged so that we live from the left hand side of the vehicle. A small thing like that really caused lots of head-aches. All of a sudden I needed to take space on BOTH sides into consideration when I parked the vehicle, and sometimes space was not available. The awning was in my way, i knocked my head on it a few times, plus we ended up not even using it once! When we arrived in Rosh Pinah, I told Neef Andries about this and he took the awning off my hands right there and then. Saved me the trouble of carting it all the way home again and to advertise it on Gumtree. E's new Kitchen Crates No, no no. This does not work for us and is more of a hassle than a help. We never tested the new crate setup in controlled environment and this lead to many frustrations on this trip. I am working on an alternative plan to organise her stuff. Stef's Deep Cycle Battery No offence Stef. This battery didnt perform as expected. Luckily I had a back-up spare battery in the vehicle, as well as my solar panel setup to see us thru. I will write a seperate post on our power setup. Toyota's crappy OEM jack Throw it out. It is crap. You need to be a cross between a contortionist and Superman to get anything heavier than a butterfly jacked up with this thing. I ended up using it as an axle-stand, and even that was dangerous, as the contact patch between the top of the jack and the axle is very small and unstable. What DID work: Solar panels The 2 x 50W panels worked a charm. They kept the fridge running ice cold in the hot Kalahari sun. Shower Bag A first for us, and we are very impressed. GOMAD truck slide The slide worked wonders. No more hassle reaching in to the load bin from the sides to get hold of stuff, we just slided it out and there it was. Whatever it is. It is strong enough to handle the weight and worked without a problem. Cortina Flappies Enough said. Satelite phone Seeing as were were going solo we felt it necessary to have one of these with us. We didnt rent one, but Doron (the one with the FJ) was kind enough to let us use his Immarsat phone. We only used it for sending the odd SMS to family to let them know where we are, so the bill for usage shouldnt be too expensive. We would like to thank Gysie from GOMAD. For all the little bends and welds that he had to do on the spur of the moment to get our setup working. Also I gave his off-cuts bin a good workout!! And for the truck slide he built for us at a moments notice. Dawid Hurter (Withilux) for his input, the P50, Garmin routes and advice. The people from our neighbouring countries are friendly and helpful and they made us feel right at home. Thanks for welcoming us to your country and making us feel at home. It was a priviledge to be able to visit, and we will come again if you will have us. All those guys who waved back on the road.... This is where we sign off... Until next time...