Kgalagadi & Witsand trip report

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Simon's Town
    Thanked: 264

    Default Kgalagadi & Witsand trip report

    We recently did a trip to the Kgalagadi and included a visit to Witsand on the way back, so here is a short summary of the trip. It was my wife and I, and we would have our 11-year-old granddaughter with us, for the first 10 days, in a Pajero with a Mini Metalian trailer.

    27th March, departed Cape Town after picking up Genna from school, and stayed over at Rondeberg Resort on the Bulshoek Dam. Good facilities and a convenient stop over. Distance 277km.

    28th March, visited Augrabies and camped there. Facilities satisfactory but need to keep a look out for the monkeys, water level was very impressive. Distance 620km.

    29th March stayed over at Molopo Lodge (camping) but it was not the best decision as there was a motorbike rally passing through so not much peace, but we were warned about it by management. I tried to phone Twee Rivieren to see if there was space available but the switchboard was “not working” and being a Saturday there was no alternative number. Distance 309km.

    30th March to 1st April, we camped at Nossob. The entry process at Twee Rivieren took over an hour. Although Sanparks said the campsite was full, there were at least five campsites available every night. Facilities are generally reasonable but it is amazing how some people treat the ablution facilities. The first night we had a large group next to us, from a number of campsites, who found it necessary to drink and make a noise until 11pm. I complained to the manager on duty the next day, who then spoke to them, and they then stayed in their individual campsites and things were as they should be. When we spoke to other campers, they told us that the large group had in fact made a noise until 12pm the night before we arrived and although they had complained, there was no improvement. (Why not stay at home if you want to make a noise?) Distance 220km

    During the time at Nossob it was fantastic to see how green the Kgalagadi was, almost as green as we had seen it in Feb the year before. Genna was desperate to see a lion in the wild and it did not take too long to see 5 near Rooiputs waterhole. Game sightings continued to be good. While at Nossob we did a sunset drive one evening and found it very worthwhile and reasonably priced. The guide, Melissa, was very good and patient with Genna, fortunately, that evening there was only the 3 of us on the drive and she could ask as many questions as she wanted to.

    2nd to 4th April we camped at Mata-Mata, here the campsite was full and the ablution facilities could only just cope but we did see a new ablution block that is nearly complete. Here the problem was not adults making a noise but kids being left to run wild and using the bird hide as a playroom. We were unfortunately camped quite close to the hide and eventually my wife, an ex teacher, had had enough and went and made a noise and all was quiet after that. Distance 162km

    Vegetation around the Auob River was noticeably drier than along the Nossob River, although there were green patches. Game viewing continued to be good and Genna was very happy to see a cheetah. She had also had lions next to the game drive vehicle at Nossob and saw a brown hyena on the game drive too.

    5th April, time to take Genna to Upington airport so she could start school again on Monday. We stayed over at Kalahari Monate (Spitskop Game Reserve). The ablution facilities were absolutely spotless and although there is a bit of traffic noise we would certainly use it again. Distance 357km

    6th April, did some shopping in Upington and then took Genna to the airport. We waited until her flight had left, about 1300hrs and then set sail for a night stop at Rooiputs on our way to Polentswa. Distance 300km

    7th to 10th April spent 4 nights at Polentswa No.3 where we met up with 2 other couples. This is the first time we have stayed there, previously we have always stayed at No.1 but found we quite liked the view. The site is a little smaller than No.1, so next year as we are planning to go with 3 other couples hopefully we can get No. 1. Distance 198km

    The road north of Polentswa was extremely corrugated and so we did not venture more than about 5km north of Polentswa. The bird life around the water hole was amazing, hundreds of doves virtually all the time, with at least 4 lanner falcon kills while we were there plus numerous Burchell’s and Namaqua sandgrouse. There were a number of tawny eagles and pale chanting goshawks seeing what they could scrounge, often one or two secretary birds on the prowl at the same time. There were 3 lions that we saw every day.

    We had a German couple, who were supposed to camp at the Polentswa reserve site, but ended up camping just down the road from us. We explained to them that you could not camp where you like, but they said they did not know where the reserve site was, and as they had set up camp, they did not intend moving. They moved on the next day and did not leave any mess behind.

    During our time at Polentswa the tractor with the “tire grader” behind it, had been up and down the road from Nossob to Polentswa so the road was considerably better when we went southbound for the last time.

    11th to 13th April the 6 of us camped at Rooiputs No.2. There was nowhere near the same amount of activity around any of the waterholes close to Rooiputs but we did see 3 cheetah and 2 mating lions near Kij Kij. On the last day, there was a fair amount of rain and the temperature dropped considerably too. In fact, there was enough rain to persuade the one couple to pack up and leave in order to shorten their long drive home. The night was also cold and windy so we did without our normal braai fire. Distance 198km

    14th April, time to split up and start heading for home, in our case, via Witsand for 3 nights. While packing up we found a scorpion under the tent, I was still taking photos of it when a starling arrived and turned the scorpion into breakfast. I stopped at Supa Quick in Upington as one of the valve stems on my trailer needed to be replaced, this was done quickly with no charge.

    Witsand has 10 well cared for campsites of varying size and spotless ablution facilities. The first night we were all by ourselves and on the 2nd and 3rd night’s one and then two other campsites were occupied. On the first night, we were hassled by 2 small-spotted genets who tried their best, without success, to steal some of our braai. This problem was solved on the next 2 nights by eating a bit earlier. The gravel roads into Witsand from the Upington side had recently been graded so were an absolute pleasure. Distance 500km

    We have not been to Witsand for a number of years and there is more to do, if you want to, or just enjoy the peace and quiet. We will certainly go back and could easily spend a week there. We had some rain while we were there so the “Roaring Sands” were not going to roar.

    17th April, stayed over at the Blou Naartjie in Calvinia, first time not in the trailer since we left home and a restaurant meal. Distance 505km
    18th April drive back home and minimal road works on the N7 because of the long weekend. Distance 452km.

    All in all a most enjoyable trip.
    Fuel consumed, 677l, cost R9845.
    Total distance, 4460km.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    East London
    Thanked: 2713


    Thanks Malcolm. The lanner falcon and dove interplay at Polentswa waterhole (and others too) is fascinating in its ferocity. Other visitors to Kgalagadi, keep your eyes peeled at the waterholes where there are flocks of doves or sandgrouse. The falcon attacks are a constant feature and are easily overlooked. When the drinking birds suddenly scatter, you know the game is on.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report from post 315.

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