Thursday, June 14, 2012

04 May: Mata-Mata to Twee Rivieren

This morning we took it quite easy, confusing the time-zone change we were about to make when we hopped back over to South Africa. We woke up at a reasonable hour and had breakfast at a leisurely 8:30am before heading off to try our luck at the border again.

The border was easy peasy, they happily stamped us out of Namibia ... however, you then have to check in at the Tourism Authority (or something). It all seems a little backward to me, but whatever. Anyway, we'd heard yesterday that there was some weird new rule that said if you wanted to enter at the Mata-Mata border post, you had to have booked at least 2 nights of accommodation in the Kgalagadi. Eep. What a time to be discovering this. But we had to try our luck anyway ... it would certainly ruin our trip to try heading back South thru Namibia to get back into SA. And we had our hearts set on the Kgalagadi ... we would've booked 2 nights there if we could've.

So armed with our booking form we attempted to sneak in. When the lady told us we needed 2 nights of booked accommodation to get in, I calmly pointed out a little clause in our printed booking confirmation that said the magic words "must reside in the park for a minimum of 2 days". As far as we understood it, we would be in the park today and tomorrow before heading home. That's 2 days. She called her manager.

We were lucky he was a friendly and understanding fellow. I think it's a silly rule, personally, but I guess they're trying to stop people who aren't actually there to visit the Kgalagadi using the border post and their roads. Still. So in we drove (after a quick fuel-up).

The one massively disappointing thing for me about the Kgalagadi is that there are really only 2 roads you're allowed to drive on. This is pretty boring and it means you don't have many routes to choose from when heading from Mata-Mata to Twee Rivieren. We got a little creative, but since the gates close at a specified time, we were nervous abut how long some of the routes would take so did a little driving down a potential route (in case there was something more interesting than Gemsbok) & turning around and driving back to the road we'd left.

We didn't have much game viewing luck. That seems to be the anti-super-power The Trucker & I trigger when we're together in a car. Individually (apparently) we both have great luck at animal sightings. Together, it is yawn-worthy. Seriously, later in the evening when we were chatting to our camping neighbours, we heard about their 2 separate cheetah sightings, practically on the road only a few metres apart! We had our heart set on spotting at least one predator, but no luck here.
I do now know why it was previously called the Gemsbok National Park. My word, there are absolutely masses of them!

Anyway, we arrived and checked in at Twee Rivieren reception, only to go thru the 2-night stay debacle again (seriously, would they have turned us around now?!). The dude kept my confirmation print-out tho, apparently they've told their head office in Pretoria to change the wording before because of similar confusion. I think it should state things like a minimum 2 night stay in giant red letters when you book (maybe it does and I forgot?) because, let's face it, that is not a normal booking requirement.

And then we went and pitched our accommodation for the night ... only to discover that our air mattress had a cut. The Trucker did an amazing job of patching it with some super glue and packing tape (bought at the nearby store), but it turned out there must've been a leak elsewhere because we were in for a truly awful night of sleeping pretty much on the ground :(

The highlight tho, was eating dinner at the Twee Rivieren restaurant. I had Venison Pie (a favourite and rare dish for me) and it was superb! We also booked an early morning game drive for tomorrow ... you know, in a last ditch attempt to see a predator or two.

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