Heine's Ramblings and Rumblings

2013/11 Kgalagadi

(AKA Filly’s turn in the box)

This trip came about after Phillip mentioned that he would like to do a short trip somewhere . I wanted to see more of the Kgalagadi , as on our August trip  , we only did the very most southern bit and didn’t do any real exploring ,

With some advice from Bud Morris , we worked out an eight day trip , with us spending only one night per camp site. This was right up our street , as we both don’t like sitting still for too long .

We were joined by Chris Kostelac , as Mandy couldn’t make it . Dena also had to work .

Please note some of the videos below might include the occasional F-bomb

Sunday 10 November

We had a fairly late start , us we had a very easy day . We met Phillip on Allandale road at 7 Am and headed for the N4 via Hartebeespoort Dam .

After stopping for breakfast at the wimpy in Harties , we got onto the N4 and headed for Zeerust .

After refuelling in Zeerust we headed for Skilpadshek border post . This has to have been the easiest border crossing I have ever done , with us not even needing gate passes on either side.

We then headed down the A2 , stopping for lunch at Nandos in Jwaneng.

Phillip had discovered that the pump that pumped from the auxiliary to the main tank wasn’t working , but unfortunately the local Midas was closed as it was a Sunday , so we continued on our way , deciding that we would look at the pump when we stopped for the evening .

After a couple more hours driving , we turned off down the cut line that would take us towards Mabua Gate. The plan had always been to bush camp somewhere along here , which is what we did , pulling off the road and into the bush about 2 hours later .

Phillip removed his fuel pump ,and discovered that a circuit board had got wet and was now rusted, I remembered I had a spare shower pump , which he used to fill the main tank from the auxiliary .

After a huge fire and no supper , as none of us were hungry , we turned in for the night

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Day 1

Trip 658

Total 658

Temperature 42

Monday 11 November

We left for Mabuasehube Gate at about 7.30 . We got there around about 9.30 , and raised some eyebrows by arriving so early. We told the guy at the office that we had spent the night at Cezar Motel  in Jwaneng and had a very early start . While we could see that he didn’t really believe us , he couldn’t prove otherwise .

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We took a slow drive to the camp-site on Lesholago Pan and were pleasantly surprised to see that the shower was working , and that the long drop was bearable – for some of us – Phillip still chose a spade. We spent the rest of the day in the camp ,played some Boules  (which I naturally won) and where visited by squirrels , a yellow mongoose and  hyena that night while we were sitting around the fire .

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Day 2

Trip 136

Total 796

Temp 44

Tuesday 12 November

I answered the call of nature just before dawn , and was surprised to see three lions lying at the edge of the camp-site . They casually got up and strolled away when Chris shone his torch on them

We had a fairly late start , as we only had about 80 km to do to get to Masomane Pan

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We got there at about 12.00 , and even though it was a very nice camp-site , we decided to push through to Nossob , as there were still 7 hours of daylight left , and it was far too hot to sit around doing nothing .and it was only about 90 km to Nossob , so , an easy 2 hour drive.

Little did we know  …

About 60 km in , the going became a bit more interesting , with a few fairly steep and sandy inclines that sometimes required the use of low range. After one fairly tricky section , where I had to make a few attempts , we decided to wait for Phillip to catch up , as he had fallen out of radio contact .

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About 20 mins later , just before going back to look for him, I finally raised him on the radio.

I told him to take an easier  route up , but even so he couldn’t manage to get over. We let his tyres down , and eventually he made it up , but I could see that the car was struggling.

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He also mentioned that he had battled quite a lot on some of the earlier sections , which I found strange , as I had made it up quite easily in 2WD .

His car had come up with a suspension fault earlier , but as this is fairly common on a Discovery 3 , especially when it is working hard , neither of us thought too much of it .

It soon become apparent , however , that all was not well , as he started battling more and more with even the easiest inclines.. After one fairly easy one where we had to find an alternate route up , as he kept getting stuck on the middlemannetjie , and then got stuck again on the crest of the dune , we decided that I should tow him to Nossob ,and hopefully we would be able to fix the issue there. As it was about 46 degrees ambient , and the sand had reached 70 deg , as per Phillip’s thermometer gun , we didn’t really feel like getting under the car just then.

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Things went OK for about another 1,5 km , albeit very slow hard work , when we eventually reached another small rise that I just couldn’t get him over .

Caution F-Bomb

I pulled him back down , and off the road , where we waited for the car to cool down.We noticed that the car was now very low at the back , with almost no clearance .

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We plugged in his Faulmate diagnostic computer , and discovered that the car had a multitude of faults logged

We had about 6 attempts at clearing them , but the suspension fault remained.

I got hold of Anthony Walley , via sat phone , and he talked us through bypassing the ECU and bridging out the compressor relay.

This worked to the extent that we could get the compressor to run again , but the car didn’t raise and the error remained.

We then got hold of Peter Street of Landyworx number , but his workshop said he was unavailable until 9.30 the next day.

As it was now about 5 PM , we decided to call it a day and had a fairly subdued evening , with the only highlight (in my case anyway) , was the pizza we made in the Cobb for supper

Day 3

Trip 164

Total 961

Temp 46

(A note on the temperature readings – These were taken with a heat gun on an object in shade , so they should be fairly accurate . if somewhat unbelievable)

Wednesday 13 November

I awoke to the buzzing of bees at about 7 . I chose to deliberately sleep in , as I assumed we would phone Peter before moving on . However the bees became so bad , that we decided to try get the car going. The suspension raised itself a bit when Phillip bridged the relay , and he had also emptied out about 200 l of water and re inflated the tyres .

Getting into the cars was scary , as by now they were full of bees. I managed to let them crawl all over me without freaking out , but Phillip was stung 7 times and Chris 3 .

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We managed to do about 1.5 km before the car bogged down again. We decided to leave it where it was and head for Nossob , as we didn’t know what we would find there , but were hoping for a tractor or something like a Unimog .

Phillip had to sit on the roof , as we slowly drove the 25 km to Nossob

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After checking in at reception , we enquired if they had a tractor . There was indeed one and our hopes were raised momentarily , but when we told them that the car was in the Botswana side of the park , we where told that it wouldn’t be possible to use it. Phillip contacted his insurance broker , but they told him he was only covered for assistance inside South Africa . I started phoning various people to see if we could arrange something else .

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Phillip and I both got numbers of various towing/recovery companies , in both South Africa and Botswana , but although everyone was most helpful , nobody could assist with an off-road recovery . Thanks here to Steve Wells especially for his contacts .

We had to try get the car to at least Nossob or first prize , the border post at Twee Rivieren .

During all this Chris and I finished our pizza from the previous night , even Jackie enjoyed it

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Later in the day , we went back to the car to try again and were joined by Willie in his cruiser , as by now the whole camp knew of our predicament . Even with both cars winching , we only managed to move the car about 5 metres , as all we where doing was ploughing a new road and flattening the middlemannetjie .

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So we loaded up some of Phillip’s stuff , transferred the contents of his fridge and freezer to mine , and headed back to Nossob , where Phillip now had to live under a tree .

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Fortunately we managed to wangle am emergency booking of a chalet , so he didn’t have to sleep under the tree , but in a bed instead. Still I don’t think he was (understandably) a happy camper

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That evening I phoned Hennie Rautenbach and Anthony Walley and asked them both to post something on the Overland Forum and the 4×4 Community Forum , requesting any assistance with locating a recovery vehicle , as we had struck out .

The thread below is the result of that , and it is amazing to be associated with such a bunch of like minded people , most of whom I only know by their forum names .

http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/showthread.php?t=167687

Day 4

Trip 121

Total 1084

Temp 46

Thursday 14 – Friday 15 November

The only noteworthy thing to come out of these 2 days was the good news from Hennie on Thursday morning. Dirk of the 4×4 Community Forum let him know that Raymond from Tuffstuff (Ream Insurance) had organised a vehicle and a trailer to come collect us !

Phillip made contact with Raymond , and he mentioned that he would also be bringing the necessary parts to fix the car in situ if possible . To this end he was also bringing Herman Engelbrecht with . They hoped to leave early on Friday morning and to be with us by lunchtime.

We made 2 more trips to Phillip’s car on Thursday , but this was mainly to pick up stuff he needed.

We went on a game drive on Thursday evening with the camp vehicle , but didn’t see much of interest . The rest of our time was either spent in the hide at the camp (where we saw some lion at the waterhole) or lounging around in the chalet .

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Phillip made contact with Raymond on Friday afternoon , and he mentioned that they had been a bit late in getting away and that they were planning to make Twee Rivieren on Friday night on that they would see us Saturday morning .

Chris and I also went on a short drive on Friday , as he had not been out the camp since we arrived on Wednesday morning .

Day 5 + 6

Trip (Thursday) 48

Total (Thursday) 1133

Temp (Thursday) 43

Trip (Friday) 76

Total Friday (1209)

Temp (Friday) 38

Saturday 16 November

We were up bright and early with Phillip even doing the dishes. We were expecting the guys from about 8 AM , and by 10.30 we were beginning to get a bit worried. Phillip tried Raymond on his cellphone a few times , but it went straight to voice mail . This was probably good news , as we knew that past Twee Rivieren there was no reception , or had something happened to them , as they were running quite late.

At about 11.50 I was on the sat phone to Anthony to see if he had heard anything , when the most wonderful sight appeared. It was the Tuffstuff Iveco with trailer attached. Inside were Raymond and Andre from Tuffstuff , and Herman and Cameron from Angel Offroad. Herman was the designated driver , and even though the vehicle was new to him , he learnt it very quickly. More of his prowess to follow .

The Iveco was brand new , with only just 2000 km on the clock when it got to us. This was to be it’s first recovery .

After a few hugs and kisses we were finally on our way !

We had a few false starts on the first dune , as Herman learned the Iveco’s capabilities , but soon we were moving again .

We finally go to the car about an hour after we left Nossob . Much quicker than I expected . Things were indeed looking up .

It took about 20 mins to load the car on the trailer and secure everything and then we were on our way.

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With a bit of winching amongst friends , we managed to get back to Nossob in under three hours , which I thought was great going .

We stopped briefly to pump up tyres , and then headed straight for Twee Rivieren , stopping only for calls of nature , some lions and a few moments to take in the scenery .

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We arrived at Twee Riveieren at about 8:15 . which meant that the gate was already closed , but Raymond pulled some strings and they opened up for us. Next stop was supper at the restaurant which Raymond also took care of .

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After supper some of us had quite a few drinks to celebrate (no names) , while the rest went off for a well deserved rest

Day 7

Trip 208

Total 1421

Temp 35

Sunday 17 November

Raymond had Herman up at sunrise to have a go at repairing the car. But it was too low to work under safely , so after consultation with Phillip . the car was left at Twee Rivieren , and a rental car was organised for Phillip in Upington .

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After breakfast , we hugged and kissed goodbye , and made our way home , with Phillip being home by 7.30 and us by 9.30 . The Iveco made it by 12.30 or thereabouts the following morning

Day 8

Trip 1054

Total 2484

Temp 34

Trip

Postmortem

First of all thank you to Raymond and Andre from Tuffstuff , and Herman and Cameron from Angel Offroad for their effort .

Thanks also to Hennie Rautenbach , Anthony Walley , Peter Street of Landyworx  , Steve Wells , Dirk of the 4×4 Community Forum , and many others whose names I don’t remember for all your assistance .

Below is Peter’s report on Phillip’s car 

Phillip’s car was returned to him two days after delivery on time and in time to go away to Madikwe. 

Why unknowingly was it important to recover the vehicle back to Upington and then flat bed it to our facility.
Fault established by Herman and confirmed by us was a burst pipe, Herman had the repair ferrule on hand. Suspension pump burnt out and motor was fubar, Herman had a replacement pump. Relay contacts were arced and Herman also had one of those as well. BUT what Herman did not know was that the centre bearing of the rear prop shaft was completely ripped out of its housing and that was caused by attempting to tow the vehicle, Which goes to show how low down the vehicle was and how high the middle mannetjie was. Now supposing Herman did fix the vehicle in situ and Pill attempted to drive the vehicle out without knowing the prop was floating around with out the centre bearing, I envisage major damage if not right off of the transfer box and or likewise the rear diff. This would have taken place between Nossob and Twee Rivieren and would still have to be flat bedded back. So therefore The Gentlemen of the Tuff Stuff team, Heine and Phillip mad a very good decision to recover the vehicle all the way back to a workshop facility, you saved Phillip a humongest amount of money . 

What became very apparent to me on this trip is that a Sat phone is invaluable , as well as having enough airtime on it . Phillip and I both used in excess of 150 min each .

Check your insurance policy carefully , you’ll probably find that Tuffstuff is one of the very few that offers comprehensive cross border benefits – yes this is a punt for them , but also a very important issue that caught Phillip out .

If you haven’t yet , go read this thread on the 4×4 Community Forum , it contains a lot of insight , [just ignore the comments of the armchair experts 😉 – they weren’t there]

Herman’s Trip Report

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15 thoughts on “2013/11 Kgalagadi

  1. Philly – Xmas is around the corner. Write a letter to Santa and ask him for a LandCruiser. You will have a lot less stress and a lot more fun.

  2. Forget all the witty remarks. I am glad you made it and are back in one piece.
    Have been in a stressful situation in the bush before (Angola trip) and dont want it over.
    Relax now, reflect, and dont let this dampen your enthusiasm for the bush. It IS a better way of living.

  3. Fantastic!! feels like I have been there!! The story really encapsulates the trip. When I saw that first dune I realised…..hier kom moeilikheid! Like usal great friends met and all of us worked together like clockwork.

  4. best part of all was getting to meet some really nice people.

  5. Did I understand correctly? This guy was saved by Tuffstuff even while he was insured by some other company? One which does not fetch cars across borders.

  6. Amazing, these Tuffstuff people.

  7. Respect! From Holland.
    (I’ve done the Southern track alone, without Sat Phone. All went well, but two days later I had a burnt stub axle and cv joint left front. I was lucky.)

  8. Pingback: Links | Frank Hoppener

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