Day 3 Dec. 15 Monday
It was Monday morning and we were awakened at 5 by the resident peacock, its early morning screams shocking us into what would quickly become our regular morning routine. By 6 am everyone was up and making toast on the grill by 630.
The morning routine stayed much the same throughout most of the trip: the crew would get up 30 minutes before us sleepyheads, lighting the coals so we could make toast, boiling water for tea and coffee, and setting up the table with with a continental- style breakfast consisting of what became a new favorite – rusks – and yogurt, cereal, toast, peanut butter, jam, and coffee and tea. Meanwhile, we would get up, remove our luggage, sleeping mats, sleeping bags & pillows from our tents, and put them on the tarp prepared for that purpose. While we ate breakfast, the crew would take down the tents, bundle everything up and load it into the truck.
We were generally on the road between 7 and 7:30. On this day, we were headed north into the Green Kalahari region and the Orange River ending our day at Augrabies Falls (place of great noise) National Park where the Orange River plummets 56 meters into the gorge below. It is the longest river in Africa. Even though it is only 195 km from the Indian Ocean, it flows over 2000 km to empty into the Atlantic.
After made a short comfort stop in the town of Calvinia, in the middle of a great wool producing area originally started by the Afrikaners, we continued on, driving across the ‘Little Karoo’ which I think, became the ‘Big Karoo’ when we crossed the Orange River. We spotted a few animals along the way: springbok first, then camels followed by a giraffe way off in the distance. There were lots and lots of sheep and goats too, as promised. The terrain was identical to Wyoming’s …. undulating miles and miles of sagebrush …. or at least, the African equivalent. During this part of the trip, Mike kept saying, “We could be driving through Wyoming!” Eventually, the endless sagebrush gave way to endless grasslands.
It was at this point that we started to see sociable weaver bird nests, looking like mini-haystacks hanging off the power poles.
Sitting for hours on the bus, gazing out at the scenes sliding by, for me promoted self reflection. So many thoughts came bubbling to the surface …. mostly about how content and happy I was, grateful to be travelling like this. This is definitely my milieu. On the bus, we each had two seats to ourselves so each of us set up little mini-work stations. Here is Mike’s.
I have been seeing lots of acacia (camel thorn) looking trees with multiple nests. These are the nests of the masked weaver bird. The male builds a nest to attract the female. She must approve of the nest and enter it and look around. If she doesn’t approve then the male must build another one. The female must be pretty picky because these trees have so many failed nests of which only one is being used! Dumi explained to us that the nests, for the most past, are built by the on the west side of the tree, therefore providing a directional guide for desert travelers.
Stopped for wine tasting in Kakamas, at The Orange River Winery and had so much fun, many of us bought a case of wine (6 bottles, not 12!!). We had our own fridge on the bus and most of it was filled with wine instead of water!! Afterwards, we ate the lunch prepared for us, sitting in the shade of a tree: bread, grated cheddar cheese, bean salad, pickles. It seems we were always hungry.
At the falls, we walked the three kilometers which was laid out as a boardwalk. It’s actually a national park with opportunities for game drives but we just did the 3 km walk around the area. I enjoyed seeing it. The highlight was the multitude of brightly coloured Broadly’s lizards that seemed to disregard everything except each other …. mating season?? Territorial attentions?? The males were dressed in colors that were neon-bright.
Arriving back at camp, we settled into our tented living spaces and and got busy with the individual pursuits of showering, writing, exploring, photography, pub-crawling and chatting which occupied us most evenings, while the crew prepared the evening meal – beef stew with rice.
Our camp at Augrabies Falls Rest Camp.