We had already briefly touched on the booking madness in the last article. On the way to South Africa we were able to get hold of a campsite in Mata Mata from 03-06 June. After the successful booking, we had now booked the time from 03-18 June within the Kgalagadi – with a still existing gap of 3 nights (07-10 June). We planned to close this in the course of the next few days (in Mata Mata at the latest), so that we would not be forced to leave the park temporarily. In Twee Rivieren, the main entrance of the South African side, Guido tried his luck on the Botswana side. Both countries are represented here in one building. In Botswana it is simply called Two Rivers. Guido inquired about the possibility to book the still open nights in Rooiputs, a fenceless camp on the Botswana side. The lady explained to him, very bored, that at the moment bookings were only allowed via the head office in Gabarone and that the immigration in Two Rivers was closed. In other words: no chance – forget your plan.
where are the cats?
On the way to Mata Mata, which took us about 120 km through the Kalahari, we saw mostly green landscapes. We looked for the famous red dunes in vain. The rainy season was so intense and good that the Kalahari presented itself in full abundance everywhere. A green sea showed itself to us – wherever we looked. The grass was partly up to about 70 cm high. This made sightings very difficult. Cats lying in the grass were invisible. We were very lucky at the beginning. First a leopardess appeared suddenly in front of our car and we were lucky to watch her exclusively for a (short) while. Afterwards she dived into the grassland, became completely invisible and we could spot her again a few minutes later on a dune. On the second day, four cheetahs lay under a tree and moved perfectly timed in the evening light in our direction. They crossed the road just in front of our car, giving us a wonderful sighting.
In order to check in at Bitterpan, we first had to drive from Mata Mata to Nossob. This is not a direct route, so the distance is about 170 km. Once you are in Nossob and checked in, you drive to the camp on the Bitterpan 4×4 trail, which is exclusively for overnight guests, which means another 55 km or so. This trail, which leads across the Kalahari, was a welcome change for us. We enjoyed the peace and solitude and for the first time we had the pleasure of seeing a Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl live. This gigantic owl suddenly shot sideways into the trail and Guido had to brake abruptly to avoid touching it. It landed in the sand, looked at us and immediately flew away. With a grin we arrived at the camp.
Bitterpan consists of four tents and therefore can accommodate a maximum of eight people. Each unit has its own bathroom and barbecue area. There is also a large communal fireplace and a communal kitchen. Shortly after our arrival we met Rohan – an open-minded and very friendly South African, who invited us to meet him, his wife and their friends at the fireplace and join them for the evening. We gladly accepted the offer and then got to know the four of them in an informal round. It was a really great evening during which we also learned the proper South African braai. So, if you, Rohan, Tracy, Mark and Elsa are reading this: it was a very, very great pleasure to meet you in Bitterpan. Thank you very much again for this great evening, your easy going nature and your hospitality. Hope to see you again on the Garden Route!
The next morning we all left in the direction of Mata Mata. At some point on the trail we were all behind each other and shortly before the end, about 11 km before the trail reaches the main road, a lioness sat in the grass with very small cubs and tried to lure us away from her cubs. She was visibly stressed, so we promptly continued on and left her alone. That was a great ending!