CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.





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  1. #1
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    Default CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    The excitement of finally arriving at Matswere Entrance gate. The last time I was here, was February. I put on the mask and headed in. Corona Virus era precautions. The DWNP officer at reception was putting on a mask too, and he gave me a sanitize. The basic precaution. I had talked previously,the day before if its clear to enter, so they were expecting me. Then he said, You are the first customer since Lockdown. I felt soo honored to be the first customer to get into the reserve after lockdown. He opened a NEW register, with slots for body temperature and travel history for me to fill in. I took pictures of my only name in the register and he was laughing at me. I told him some records needs to be kept safe hahahah.

    After the registering, it was time to leave. Driving slowly, it felt soo new as there was just few tracks from law enforcement vehicles patrolling. Normally the route between Matswere and Deception Valley, would be dusty, but it wasnít at all now. It seemed, after lockdown in March, there was rainfall across. I arrived at Deception Valley around 1500 and proceeded to check the campsite. Driving to campsites, the road was bumpy, from insect activity and molehills. Im booked at CKKOR02 for the night. I just packed and inspected the campsite. At 1600 started a slow drive back around the Deception area. Nothing much but giraffes and other general game. After a beautiful sunset I headed back to camp. There are cautious measures I put in place when camping alone. One is, have dinner when its still not dark and get into tent before 1930. Thatís what happened. I had a book and a headlamp, so I enjoyed reading up the rooftop.

    Around 2100, I heard some movement around my vehicle. And on inspection, I saw a female lion standing just next to the vehicle. The moon was very bright and noticed that, it was the lone female lion, I always see here. She wasnít curious but it seemed she was heading to the main deception area. She left after few minutes. What an amazing experience.

    I woke up next day around 0500. Brushed my teeth, prepared coffee and at 0630 I started the drive. I thought I would find the female lion, with a kill but no, it wasnít to be. I headed to the Deception Loop. My curiosity picked when I saw vultures up trees and some flying on the southern part of the deception loop. Using the bionocular, I saw lions movement in the thick bush. I couldnít see what they killed because of the grass. So it wasnít a scene to try and stay and I moved on. The deception Pan was lovely, still with green on the edges and springboks around.

    The drive to Letiahau, was very scenic, with lots of game around Lekhubu. I checked Lekhubu Campsite. Still the same, with one tree downed, probably by an elley. There wasnít much enroute to Letiahau waterhole. I thought I would find something at the waterhole,but nothing, only a dead giraffe skeleton neaby. The waterhole was dry. This waterhole has been dry since last year. Last time I found it with water was July and January after the rainfall. It was now warm, I then had a cereal breakfast by the nearby shade and off to Piper.

    PIPER PANS
    I donít have to make this area more famous than it is, by bragging more about it, as it is already famous, by stating how good it is, BUT eish its impossible not to talk about the beauty that is Piper. For those who wish to visit here. There are 3 loops to game drive during your stay here. The Northern Loop, The Southern Loop, where the waterhole is and the Eastern loop. This is the trick I employ when Iím camping here. I leave camp at 1600 and drive the northern loop, then I do the Eastern loop till the sun is close to setting. And then when the sun is about to go down, I make sure Iím by the waterhole. You might be lucky with a leopard or lions. After sunset, I head to camp immediately.
    Travelling to Piper, you pass through some pans, which during the rainy season between December and April, would be packed with springboks, Orynx and other animals. This time, the pans were very empty, with one or two there and there. With exception of many elephants tracks along the way. Arriving at Piper, thatís when I had the answer. The pans were packed with springboks, gemsboks, wildbeests, hartebeest. I realized most of animals moved here from neighboring pans. Would be due to the waterhole? Hard to tell as these animals could stay without water for most part of the year. Driving late afternoon, just trying to guess the number of springboks in the both three loops combined, I wouldnít hesitate to put it above 500. The giraffe population is very strong here at Piper. Its just a magical place to be.
    After sunset I head to campsite, when there is still light so that I unfold the rooftop tent. The trees at CKPIP01 at this time of year have lost their leaves, so during the midday one would have tough time finding shade. The shower and ablution are very far, and bushes in between before you get there, so when alone, it could be nerve wrecking to visit after dark. There is safety measure I employ when Iím travelling solo. Prepared dinner before game drive, eat or carry some in a container and enjoy the dinner while enjoying sunset outside the vehicle or keep it and eat after game drive. Depends on the location.
    After preparing my rooftop, I went up immediately with a book in hand and I read until around 2030. It was very cold and it became difficult having my hands outside. I had all the rooftop windows open to let more moon light in. I really enjoy the moon light when Iím up there. Thatís something that so good about rooftops. The night went quiet, no roaring.
    The next morning was up early and drove to the waterhole for the sunrise. Nothing much except birds and general game. I left Piper around 0800, because I had a long way to Sunday Pan.

    PHOKOJE PANS
    From Piper Pans, I used the route through Phokoje Pans. Watchout for this area of the reserve in future . The DWNP is planning on relocating the campsite to a good place, since the current one isnt that great, even after the shade had fallen. It will depends where they relocate it too, but except for the campsite, this area attract lot of game during the rainy season. It is one of the areas that are almost green during rainy season. The route had a lot of long grass and was pleased I had a seed net. The landscape is beautiful, with that feel of driving along a valley but with long trees on the edges and long grass. Phokoje Pan is a long pan and the route is along the edge of the pan. Beautiful scenery. Just saw general game. I passed to the San Pan. San Pan had few springboks, but mostly deplete of game. Passed by CKT02. Itís a beautiful campsite on raised platform overlooking the pan. I had a break at Tau Pan. Due to a neighbouring water at the lodge, the game at Tau Pan was plenty. With lot of lion tracks but didnít see any. I joined the mid reserve cutline and shot straight to Sunday Pan.

    SUNDAY PAN
    I had a plan in place for Sunday Pan, that I would be having sunset by the waterhole, with something maybe coming up. What I terrible disappointment. The waterhole was very dry and seemed it has been for a long time. I was very disappointed. Anyware I decided to do my campsite valuation of all Sunday Pan Campsite and the results was as follow:
    Number 1: CKSUN02. This campsite is placed just on the western elevated part of the pan, at the end of the loop. I just love it so much. The privacy from the rest of other campers. Its large. All campsites across the reserve run by private operator had NEW Shower buckets.

    Number 2: CKSUN04: This should be my number one campsite because of the magnificent view of the pan while there.You can see the pan and the waterhole from there. The route going up was soo overgrown, brunches were scratching my car and a bit sandy to pull through. It a beautiful campsite with enough space.

    Number 3: CKSUN01: This campsite is at Leopard loop, but its part of Sunday pan campsites.

    Number 4: The only negative I part about this campsite was, I felt it was a bit slopping. It had shade and a bit small. Even though its near CKSUN04, just know that, there are bushes in between and you wont be seen from neighbouring CKSUN04, but if they are loud, could be disturbing.

    NOTE: Dont use my grading as a booking criteria, its a personal opinion, not professional grading. Everyone has their own personal preference.

    After my somewhat interesting campsite grading, the sun was going down and I headed to the main pan area where the was lot of springboks, gemsboks and giraffes. Took out the chair, had my drink in hand and just sat there to watch gemboks chaising each other around. There is something about barking gerkos, when the sun goes down and they come out from their holes and start barking. I just love the song they sing.
    While seated there, enjoying the sunset. I had my deep thought. Sometimes I feel conflicted. Why do I have to travel to this beautiful area solo, and, it was very easy to answer that. Almost all of my friends donít like bush travelling and hate it. They would rather be walking the shops at Mall Of Africa. So, when I was preparing for the trip, I invited them to join me, since the borders are closed, no crossing to RSA for big malls. They just said, NOOO, suit yourself. So, I wont just drop my trip just because Im alone, so it was me against the bush. After sunset, packed my staff and head back to camp. The night went without incident and enjoyed my stay at CKSUN02.

    The next morning, I drove the Sunday loop. Even though the waterhole was dry, the Sunday pan was packed with game. When I didnít find anything interesting, I head to Leopard loop. I had high hopes for this area. Lot of general game, but no cats. The 17 kms road from leopard pan to Deception valley was the most overgrown with long grass. The insects have messed the road, with molehills heaps everywhere. I drove all the way back to Deception Pan, where I wanted to have lunch before heading out. Found vultures basking in the middle of the Pan. At first I was excited that, maybe a kill, but I found them just laying next to a old gemsbok skeleton. I drove back to the Owenís camp, where I prepared myself lunch and just relaxed. Just looking at this beautiful landscape and enjoying lunch, I felt so previllaged to be able to have this area to explore. During my 3 night/ 4 days stay here, I never came across any vehicle. Serious Social distancing. It was time to exit and I left Matswere entrance around 1630. And lazily drove to Rakops.

    ELEPHANT POPULATION
    Just observing from the tracks and other clues, the elephant population in the reserve seems to be going up. Everywere from Deception to Piper, fresh dung and tracks all over. There is evidence of some trees taken down by elephants. One food for thought, will they change the vegetation course of the reserve. We know elephants sometimes take down long trees and eat tree barks. Others blame the availability of water at waterhole for their rise in population. The Piper Pan water hole had lots of water and elephants tracks all over. Lets keep an eye in the coming years and observe any change in vegetation and landscape.

    Even though travelling across the reserve, felt so special alone, I missed that brief conversation you have when you meet travelers along the way. Their experiences along and sometimes making new friends. With that, cant wait to have other travelers back in the bush.

    PICTURE: Beautiful colors of the Sky after sunset at Deception Valley
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Must be a special feeling traveling that part of the world alone....
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Very special place and after 40 plus days of Covid 19 lockdown indoors , it was refreshing to get out there.

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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Thanks alot for this lovely Report. Green with envy

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  6. #5
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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Thank you very much for sharing ! Indeed a very special place, and at the current times even more memorable. As others, green with envy!

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    What a fantastic honour you had Pat!

    Great to have this fantastic place truly all to oneself. We are all envious.
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  10. #7
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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Awesome!!! Throw some more pics please!!

    We are planning a trip for 2022 (when Adelind is a little older) !!!!
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  12. #8
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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Indeed a privilege to be all alone.

    We would have arrived on the 27th June, really sad. Your report does help Pat, thanks. We looking forward to the trip, even though postponed by 12 months.
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  14. #9
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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Hi Pat. This post reflects your deep love for, and knowledge of the CKGR!
    Just an aside, I would love to do a trip with you to CKGR. Read all your previous trip reports prior to our visit in 2019.We never got to our Piper reservation (because of car problems). Perhaps you'll invite me one day...when your Ghanzi friends turn you down!
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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Thanx for the report PAT.
    My first thougts also: Amazing to be in that vast landscape alone.

    How is the corrugations? That is the worst part for me of CKGR. A rest periode wont take the corrugarions away unless there was rain maybe?

    Thanx
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  16. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack B View Post
    Hi Pat. This post reflects your deep love for, and knowledge of the CKGR!
    Just an aside, I would love to do a trip with you to CKGR. Read all your previous trip reports prior to our visit in 2019.We never got to our Piper reservation (because of car problems). Perhaps you'll invite me one day...when your Ghanzi friends turn you down!
    Hie Jack B
    I remember very your trip and very urgent post looking for a Landy mechanic. I hope you managed to repair the car and its ready to hit the bush again. Will be honored to do a trip through CKGR with you Jack. Next time you come, let me know, if time let, will hop in and travel. Thanks for the kind words.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildkyker View Post
    Thanx for the report PAT.
    My first thougts also: Amazing to be in that vast landscape alone.

    How is the corrugations? That is the worst part for me of CKGR. A rest periode wont take the corrugarions away unless there was rain maybe?

    Thanx
    The rest of the track were fine. No corrugations. The only part with corrugations was between Piper and the turn off to Phokoje Pan. This 30 kms sandy track was bumpy, but not bad. The corrugations get bad with more vehicles, so at the moment they were not that bad.

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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Thanks for the write-up, Pat. I really enjoyed it. It brought back great memories of my trip last October. It must have been magical to be there alone. CKGR was the highlight of my trip through Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and the barking geckos were the highlight of CKGR for me.

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    Great work Pat, this TR!!! Thanks!!!

    Hope to be back there once in the future...

    Piper really is the most special place in the reserve!!!

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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nys View Post
    Awesome!!! Throw some more pics please!!

    We are planning a trip for 2022 (when Adelind is a little older) !!!!
    OK Nys some more pictures.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tadhgocuilleain View Post
    Thanks for the write-up, Pat. I really enjoyed it. It brought back great memories of my trip last October. It must have been magical to be there alone. CKGR was the highlight of my trip through Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and the barking geckos were the highlight of CKGR for me.
    The highlight of my trip was this encounter with a Wildcat mother and its playful kitten. It was late, driving back to camp at Piper. Far in the distance I noticed the playful kitten running around. I got the binoculars and spotted them. The light was soo poor to get clear pictures. It lasted for 5 minutes and for me that was the most beautiful sighting of the trip. Those are some of the pictures i got,even though lt was very dark.
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  25. #17
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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Quote Originally Posted by PAT n WOLF View Post
    The highlight of my trip was this encounter with a Wildcat mother and its playful kitten. It was late, driving back to camp at Piper. Far in the distance I noticed the playful kitten running around. I got the binoculars and spotted them. The light was soo poor to get clear pictures. It lasted for 5 minutes and for me that was the most beautiful sighting of the trip. Those are some of the pictures i got,even though lt was very dark.
    Thanks Pat, great to read your report. Reminds me of my only trip to CKGR in Dec 2017. Absolutely magical place.

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  27. #18
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    Thanks Pat for sharing. We envy the privilege you had.

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    Default Re: CKGR after LOCKDOWN: Trip Report.

    Quote Originally Posted by PAT n WOLF View Post
    The highlight of my trip was this encounter with a Wildcat mother and its playful kitten. It was late, driving back to camp at Piper. Far in the distance I noticed the playful kitten running around. I got the binoculars and spotted them. The light was soo poor to get clear pictures. It lasted for 5 minutes and for me that was the most beautiful sighting of the trip. Those are some of the pictures i got,even though lt was very dark.
    Thank you Pat, we cannot wait to get back there in 2021. Just a question on your evaluation of the campsites....what is
    your thoughts on CKSUN02 vs CKSUN01 as preferred campsites ?

    Tx

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    Quote Originally Posted by FransBR View Post
    Thank you Pat, we cannot wait to get back there in 2021. Just a question on your evaluation of the campsites....what is
    your thoughts on CKSUN02 vs CKSUN01 as preferred campsites ?

    Tx

    Frans
    Hie Frans
    Just note that CKSUN02 is based at Sunday Pan and then CKSUN01 is at (Leopard Pan). Both Campsites are great, but if you want to stay at Sunday Pan, CKSUN02 and if you want to stay at Leopard Pan, CKSUN01 would be great.

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