The journey to Papkuilsfontein

It is only 2 months ago that we visited the Kgalagadi…so why are we embarking on this long journey again so soon….

In case you have missed it, the Kalahari region has experienced incredible summer rains, so much so that the Auob and Nossob Rivers actually have flowing water. The usual dry red dunes are carpeted in tall green grasses – the landscape which we experienced in early December has been transformed.  Thanks to Krista and a Digby De Villiers, who managed to get bookings, here we are!

Klippie was given a rudimentary clean, bed made, menus decided, food packed, one or two minor repairs done. The trusty Toyota Hilux was also packed…Klippie on his back, my library and our camera and binocs inside, also with a little fridge to keep our our car picnics cool.

Klippie having a clean
My portable library, fridge etc
Fruit and Veg packed

Instead of driving all the way to the Orange River area, we decided to recce something different- again,thank you De Villiers’s for finding and booking Papkuilsfontein farm near Calvinia. 

The adventure began leaving Cape Town,driving up the N7  to Clanwilliam, where we turned  off the National road and headed into the Cederberg area. The first part of the road is tarred and winds up the side of the mountain- beautiful Pakhuis Pass. Near the top of the pass, using the thermals pushing up against the mountain, two Verreaux’s Eagles soared silently. 

View from the top of Pakhuis Pass

The road follows the flat top of this part of the escarpment, winding through beautiful sandstone formations, winding eventually from fynbos into the dry succulent karoo. The road is now dirt, and we make our way up another pass that skirts a small canyon, the Botterkloof pass. Harsh, beautiful landscape.

Heading up the Botterkloof Pass
Driving down onto the plateau

At last we reach the turnoff to Papkuilsfontein. We were greeted warmly by the farmer’s wife, who runs all the guest accommodation on the farm. We were the only guests that afternoon and evening, so had the campsite to ourselves. Gorgeous site with a view of the plains of the farm. Each site has a little braai area allocated to it, but there is a central lapa, equipped with warm running water and a basin, which we made ourselves at home in. There is also a flush loo ( luxury !), and a lovely shower. After a little lunch, we headed off to find the rock pool for a swim. The River bed has incredible rock formations, formed by eons of water erosion, and then the water hole comes into view after a little scramble. Best swim in ages- even Richard enjoyed it. 

Papkuilsfontein campsite with ablutions in the background
Walking to the rockpool
Glorious rock pool

On our way back to camp, we stopped at their rim-flow farm dam type swimming pool – crystal clear water, and Krista and I enjoyed a dip while the martins swept to have a drink on the wing.

We also did a little birding…

Think this is a Cape Siskin

Back at camp, time to light the fire, and do what needs to be done with a suitable beverage in hand, while the sun is setting….Braai.

During the night, the wind came up, whooshing over the plains, so Richard was up making a plan to tie down the flaps of our roof top tent. Not that much sleep, but that is camping. Woke up to a beautiful sunrise while packing up.

We will definitely be back to explore all Papkuilsfontein has to offer. 

The highlight of our drive to Twee Rivieren today was crossing the strongly flowing Orange River – we stayed at Ikaia Lodge in December, swam in the River, and did some fishing….well the lawn area, the little island….all but gone under the flood waters thanks to the big summer rains experienced in the catchment, and flowing spectacularly down the Augrabies Falls. We won’t have time to revisit the Falls. And now we are ready to experience a green Kgalagadi.