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A Red Dog on an Orange River


River Rat
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COVID has undoubtedly played havoc with everyone’s travel plans and our wanderlust bug could not be tamed by the repetitive planning and dreaming of where we could go if only this virus would allow us. So with the lifting of restrictions to Level 1 we set about turning those dreams into reality, crossing borders was simply too complicated and the idea of contracting the virus and being holed up in a foreign country was not that appealing. Scrolling down the bucket list we found the Namaqua 4x4 Ecotrail and without much hesitation we booked for the first part of the trail from Klein Pella to Vioolsdrift. We decided to take our three year old dog Ranger with us, a rather large Rhodesian Ridgeback three quarters of a meter at the shoulder and a solid 65kg of muscle. The roof top tent plus annex was loaded, with water and food for 6 days. Ranger’s frozen raw food was competing with my beer and the wife’s wine for space in our camping fridge, 1.3 kg per day is quite a lot. Ranger is not too fond of the car but loves the destination, so we prepared a bed for him on the passenger seats of our vehicle.

 

Day 1 – was a 660km trip from Pretoria to Red Sands camping grounds, a pet friendly place just outside of Kuruman. The journey was interrupted every 2 hours or so just to let Ranger stretch his legs, drink some water and mark some new territory. The first stop was a slight detour on a gravel district road just before Coligny and the CCTV cameras mounted high on telephone poles was a stark reminder of the war our farming communities are fighting. Ranger needed no invitation and he was out the car exploring the area making sure that other dogs would know he was here. The journey through rural South Africa continued and I recall driving through the rural areas of South Africa in the not too distant past and the church steeple rising above all other buildings was a sure sign that you were approaching a rural town, Sannieshof is different as the Vodacom tower now rises way above the church steeple perhaps a stark reminder of our new religion.

 

A fuel stop at Delareyville and I was quite impressed with the way in which COVID measures were being observed masks everywhere and even the queues outside the ATMs showed that social distancing was the order of the day. We decided to get a toasted sandwich just to tide us over for the second half of the journey from the Afsaal Café. “Can we have a toasted Bacon and Egg sandwich please” my wife asked, “Sorry madam but we only serve Egg and Bacon”. Hmm something was afoot here! “So what would happen if I wanted a Bacon and Egg?” The curt response was “Specials cost R10 extra”. So Egg and Bacon it was and the process was clear the egg is cooked first in the pan, the pan is wiped clean before the bacon is fried, clearly one doesn’t want to mess with the system at the Afsaal Café in Delareyville! But perhaps we should have paid the R10 just to poke the bear a bit.

 

Red Sands is an aptly named camping spot, the sand really is red, most likely as a result of all the iron ore found in the area. Ranger decided to celebrate his freedom with a good old roll in the sand and he was perfectly camouflaged. The setting up of camp was rather difficult as he wanted to go say hi to all the other campers, so we hooked up his leash to the tow hitch and he waited patiently for us to set up camp. A walk around the camp with him on leash soon settled the nerves of our fellow campers as they realised that he was just a big softie. We met the camp manager’s dog, rather scruffy looking who was at first quite wary of Ranger but after a couple of sniffs, the game was on they chased each other having a whale of the time amusing the other campers enjoying their sundowners. It wasn’t long before Ranger pulled up mid stride and I realised this city slicker was no match for the devil thorns of the Kalahari. He hobbled up to me, the offending thorn removed and back in the game he went only to be hobbled a short while later. Even scruffy dog found his match in the thorns and he too made use of my services, it was quite amusing to watch how both dogs would hobble up to me holding up their paws for me to do the necessary.

 

A shrill whistle from the camp manager brought the game to an end as Scruffy dog hopped onto the back of the bakkie, knowing that the day was at its end and it was home time. Kalahari sunsets are sight to behold and the calmness of the gloaming as nature changes from dayshift to nightshift and the effect on our four legged friend was profound and we could thankfully leave Ranger off lead as he kept close to us and with no intention of pestering other campers, he knew where home was. The evening reminded us that even in spring the desert nights can be cold and Ranger was grateful to find his bed at the bottom of the Annex, sheltered from the wind he could settle in for the night knowing that we were in the tent just above him, it was a long day and tomorrow would be a long day’s journey to Groot Melkboom on the banks of the Orange River…post-13836-0-22390600-1606755177_thumb.jpgpost-13836-0-63623900-1606755195_thumb.jpgpost-13836-0-25966500-1606755213_thumb.jpgpost-13836-0-89766300-1606755256_thumb.jpgpost-13836-0-79571700-1606755277_thumb.jpg

Edited by River Rat
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Lovely photos. I couldn’t read the post without paragraphs.

Strange I wrote it up in Word and the paragraphs where there, anyway it's fixed.
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Man you bring back memories.  I drove that road so often for work to Olifantshoek.  If you drive past red sands and you look to your right on those distant mountains, that was where I worked so often. Could drive those roads with my eyes closed.  Quite a few times i stayed at a lodge at the foot of those mountains about 15 km outside Olifantshoek.  It was so quite you could hear the animals on the game farm at a waterhole about 1,5 km away.  And the stars at night.  Used to park outside the chalet with a beer and just kept looking up.

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Man you bring back memories.  I drove that road so often for work to Olifantshoek.  If you drive past red sands and you look to your right on those distant mountains, that was where I worked so often. Could drive those roads with my eyes closed.  Quite a few times i stayed at a lodge at the foot of those mountains about 15 km outside Olifantshoek.  It was so quite you could hear the animals on the game farm at a waterhole about 1,5 km away.  And the stars at night.  Used to park outside the chalet with a beer and just kept looking up.

It's a fantastic area and I just love the contrasting landscapes as one travels west. It will sadden you to see the state of Kuruman once the jewel of the Kalahari now it's a haven for thieves and pickpockets only to be avoided.

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It's a fantastic area and I just love the contrasting landscapes as one travels west. It will sadden you to see the state of Kuruman once the jewel of the Kalahari now it's a haven for thieves and pickpockets only to be avoided.

Pretty much like Zeerust etc...just as shitty,

Anyway on occasion I like to stay in town in a B&B and ride my mtb to the Mission Station and spend some time there and drop a coin or two

It does my soul good.

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Nice of you to share this adventure with us. I am looking forward to episode 2 already. 

Ranger is a good looking fella. I am sure he is having the time of his life.

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Funny enough that's my favourite route to Cape Town and I have never seen a trap

BTW Red Sands is my stop over..Top tier chalet on the end

 

After Red Sands how would you continue?  Via Kenhardt Calvinia or via Poffadder?

 

I often had to travel to Alexanderbay first so drove via Upington.  Like sleeping over Upington area and then start early the next morning, stop for breakfast at Augrabies and then shoot through to AB.  From there I would travel down to Cape Town on the N7 which was one of my favourate routes to travel.

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It's a fantastic area and I just love the contrasting landscapes as one travels west. It will sadden you to see the state of Kuruman once the jewel of the Kalahari now it's a haven for thieves and pickpockets only to be avoided.

 

It has been a very long time that I have not seen Kuruman.  My last couple of years that I travelled to that area I normaly had to stop for work in Kimberly as well, So I would normally travel there via Bloem first do my work and then drive up to Kathu.  So passed through Kuruman propably 8-10 years ago.

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After Red Sands how would you continue?  Via Kenhardt Calvinia or via Poffadder?

 

I often had to travel to Alexanderbay first so drove via Upington.  Like sleeping over Upington area and then start early the next morning, stop for breakfast at Augrabies and then shoot through to AB.  From there I would travel down to Cape Town on the N7 which was one of my favourate routes to travel.

Calvinia

Trip home

post-523-0-91058200-1606800867_thumb.jpg

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It's a fantastic area and I just love the contrasting landscapes as one travels west. It will sadden you to see the state of Kuruman once the jewel of the Kalahari now it's a haven for thieves and pickpockets only to be avoided.

Friend of my cousin moved up there to start a business 2 years ago and have 22 attempted/successful break in /robbery attempts, it just sounds completely lawless and crazy.

 

Not really the look that Moffat was going for when he set it up.

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It's a fantastic area and I just love the contrasting landscapes as one travels west. It will sadden you to see the state of Kuruman once the jewel of the Kalahari now it's a haven for thieves and pickpockets only to be avoided.

Lol, we stopped in Kuruman on my 21st on our way to Namibia...(got woken up at 1am...told to point on a map, chucked in a car and wound up in Kuruman many hours later!)....that was 27 years ago....it wasn't exactly thriving back then either! We had the worst slap chips and Russians ever, cooked in hydraulic oil or something! I still remember chucking them out of the car...and I hate wasting food, especially junk food! 

Edited by Mojoman
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Lol, we stopped in Kuruman on my 21st on our way to Namibia...(got woken up at 1am...told to point on a map, chucked in a car and wound up in Kuruman many hours later!)....that was 27 years ago....it wasn't exactly thriving back then either! We had the worst slap chips and Russians ever, cooked in hydraulic oil or something! I still remember chucking them out of the car...and I hate wasting food, especially junk food! 

 

On one of my work trips to Olifantshoek my more senior co-worker decided that we should rather leave Pretoria on a Sunday lunch time.  Turns out that was not a wise descision as all those dorpies closed up.  We eventually stopped at a KFC in Vryburg that seems to have been the only place open West from Gauteng.  Worst KFC we have eaten ever.  The chicken my friend had most certainly died of a heart attack looking at the amount of oil dripping off it.

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