We reached Askham and to our relief, there was a gas station. I took a picture because we are probably never going there again.
We stayed at Kgalagadi Lodge that night and drove through a tiny part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park the next day, a massive nature reserve in the Kalahari Desert region of Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. The Kalahari is a dry, sandy savanna area of southern Africa, semi-desert famous for its beautiful red dunes and 'wit grassies' (white grass), and it covers about 70% of Botswana, as well as parts of Namibia and South Africa. It was the first time we've been to the Kalahari, and our timing was perfect - recent rains had transformed the dry area into its most stunning state.
Maarten bought a Bushman bow-and-arrow (two arrows, to be exact), and thus he was running around hunting imaginary lions that evening.
Drifting Shongololo (the word shongololo is Xhosa for millipede). There are a lot of these creatures in the Kalahari - their tracks cover the dunes in the morning.
The said tracks. It looks like a miniature 4x4 car dared the dunes.
We arrived late evening and dad, me and the boys went for a swim while mom stayed behind at the campsite. As pitching our tents would have been tricky (it's hard to get tent pens into pavement), mom suggested we sleep open, but upon our return she had definitely changed her mind. It seemed there was a tame emu stalking the campsite, and when mom had tried to take a nap, this guy walked right up to her and stared. After much laughter, we pitched the tents (though flimsily), and I figured The Emu has earned himself a portrait.
Guess who's coming to dinner...
Upon entering Kgalagadi Park, there were plenty of lazy Gemsbok and Springbok but less of everything else. We were hoping to see lions, but got lucky and saw a sleeping leopard instead. Unfortunately I couldn't take a picture - she was beautiful though.
Red hartebeest and Gemsbok.
Springbok lambs - adorable.
We also saw baby Gemsbok - his horns look like thorns.
All the animals were lazy and fat, presumably because of the abundant grazing.
Birds there were many, including the 'Gompou' (bustard), the heaviest flying bird on earth.
I love the ostrich on the right, staring at her reflection: "I'm so gorgeous!"
We saw a few falcons and eagles too.
The sighting of the day, however, was two beautiful 'bakoorjakkalsies' (Bat-eared foxes). These giant-eared, tiny foxes are nocturnal and rarely come out in daylight.
We also met clients of my mom who had invited us to visit if we ever came to this area, and stayed on with 2 families for 2 nights each where we experienced the famed 'boere' generosity of the Northern Cape. On the first farm, we had a fantastic time with 'oom' Jacques and 'tannie' Rika in the Kalahari. On arrival we were almost immediately taken 'springhaas' hunting/chasing at night by oom Jacques. This crazy activity involves chasing 'springhase' (nocturnal, weird, miniature kangaroo-like rodents) with a 'bakkie' (pickup) at night, and needs someone to hold a spotlight on the victim until it tires, half blinded by the light. Then someone else who can (preferably) run very fast over bushes and sand dunes chase after the springhaas and tries to catch it to the great amusement of the driver and other people on the back of the bakkie.
Only dad managed to catch one, after a terrific dive into the sand. The boys were very impressed.
The next day we were shown around the salt factory. In the Kalahari, there are natural, big salt pans (soutpanne) where extremely salty underground lakes prevent anything from growing on top.
To reach the lakes, big canals are dug. The water in these canals are more than 90% salt (the Dead Sea is 48%). Apparently you can sit upright in the water and it only comes up to your waist. You can't stay in for very long though...
In order to then harvest the salt, the water must be pumped into shallow areas and allowed to evaporate.This is done in acres, where saltwater is pumped and evaporated layer after layer for 2 years. On top of this layer of salt more water is pumped, and only then salt can be scraped off and harvested.