Boy did we manage to hit the jackpot this weekend? Coenie and I decided some 2 months ago that we needed a break from the Rat Race (no pun intended) and booked accommodation at Klein Tafelberg for us and our families. They would stay in one of the newly build Rondawels and we would be camping Kaspaas style with RTT and all the other nice goodies.
After a lot of looking forward to the trip and planning for weeks and the chicks buying all sorts of nice goodies for us to braai and consume Friday finally arrived and we were ready to rock and roll. When I pulled into Coenie’s driveway he muttered something about hearing on the radio that it was going to be 45 degrees on Saturday, and I said something like “Walk in the park, Ovamboland was hotter”… The drive up was pretty uneventful and our first (and last) stop was at Piketberg where we made sure our fuel tanks were full and we bought the last cold drinks for our journey. We hit the dirt road at Aurora, and driving it with tar-road tyre-pressures (2.2) was not fun, but we kept going because it was hot and the road was not too long.
We arrived at the KT campsite and immediately Stephen Burger made us feel welcome. He took us to our digs for the weekend and started chatting right away about the farm, the trail, the accommodation and the “wildlife” on the premises. What a nice friendly fella! We immediately set up camp, and before you could say “’n Cheetah smaak Haai-pastei” Coenie and I sat around the braai place with a cold one in our hands. Stephen and his fellow guide Ian came around to tell us that they are taking 2 groups up the trail on Saturday, and that we will be in the second group, leaving at 10:30. After a quick meal of lekker smaaklike Boerie-Rolls and Heinekens, we went to bed quite early in anticipation of the trail the next day.
We were up quite early on Saturday and immediately we could feel this was going to be a scorcher. No wind at all, not even a slight breeze, and the sun as hot as Hades. Out came the sun-block and hats, and by the time we finished our bacon and egg brekkie, we were already sweating profusely and I think I finished about a litre of water already. At the “Office” I bought another 4 bottles of water and added it to the stash in the fridge and the cooler between the front seats. The little thermometer in the car was showing 38°C in the shade.
The trail consists mostly of sandy tracks up the mountain, and in some spots there are these long uphills with serious cross-axles making the vehicle wiggle from side to side violently. This wiggly motion and the deep ruts, sap all the vehicle’s momentum making it extremely difficult to drive as you cannot count on momentum to get you up the hill. Also you need to try and keep in the track, and at the same time prevent your passengers from getting whip-lash or worse. Coenie’s kids suffered some bumps and bruises, despite of the fact that they were both securely strapped into their booster seats. Out in the open the temperature was soaring and reached 50.7°C at one stage. I haven’t experienced such heat very often before in my life. Everything you touch burns you, the sand is so hot you cannot walk without shoes on, and those with sandals/crocs ended up running from one shady spot to the next. The heat was so bad that the entire group decided that we were going to skip the rocky route which would take another 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete. About 500m from the picnic spot at the top of the trail we stopped for a while to wait for some back markers to come up a steep track as some of the guys had to take 2 or more attemps to get to the top. When we were ready to go disaster struck.
Kaspaas was suffering from serious vapour lock and the petrol pump was not delivering sufficient or any fuel to the engine. Coenie managed to tow him to a wider part of the track so that the others behind me could at least pass and go sit in the shade at the top while we try and get Kaspaas going again. Anthony in his very powerful Land Cruiser Ute with 4500 EFI motor and dual differential locks and 35” BFG AT tyres offered to tow Kaspaas up to the trees so that he can stand in the shade to cool off a little, but no luck, after yanking Kaspaas through a protea bush I called for a time out as I knew a dangerous thing when I saw one and Anthony, although a VERY nice guy and really kind to offer his assistance was not very subtle in his approach.
In the mean time Stephen, not wanting to leave us stranded in the sun, contacted Ian his fellow guide to come and see what can be done to either get Kaspaas mobile again, or to get us to a place where we wont die of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Most of the guys in the group were still hanging around us and offering help and cold drinks and all of a sudden all these guys became comrades in arms.
It all ended up rather embarrasingly, with Ian and Stephen deciding not to leave a man behind (although I was 100% okay with waiting for all the bits to cool down and proceed under my own steam). That’s my story and I’ll stick to it!!.. Ian hooked Kaspaas on to the back of his vehicle and towed us down the mountain to the campsite. Once at the campsite, I decided to have a look-see and jou wrintiewaar daar start Kaspaas. I was all ready to head back up the mountain, but Ian showed me the way to the pool and that sounded like a MUCH better idea with the temperature still hovering around 48°C.
About an hour later Coenie and the rest of the group returned, with Coenie sporting a wall-to-wall smile and a big thumbs up. Only him and Anthony were brave enough ot try the Heartbreak Hill, and both of them made it in their first go! Well done Coenie. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the pool, cooling off our own overheated bits, and as the sun made it’s way to the western horizon we lit a fire and had a leisurely braai with copious amounts of cold ones to keep our insides cool. Before we knew it it was midnight and time for bed.
Sunday morning came and as we checked out I said to Stephen that I will cut the KT sticker he gave me in half as I only did half the route, and to only stick the 2nd half after I completed the route on a return visit. He said that we as Hilux ouens must all come visit KT, he and Ian likes towing Hiluxes down mountains, and we all had a good chuckle, and parted as friends, promising to return many many times. The drive home was again quite boring and uneventful and Kaspaas made it all the way back against a strong head-on South Easter without any problems or hiccups.
The campsite is clean, tidy and well equiped. The ablution facilities are of 5star quality with hot and cold showers. Lots of trees and shade makes camping very sheltered from sun and wind (we had plenty of the one and none of the other). The bungalow that Coenie’s family was in was recently completers, sleeps 4 people on single beds and are very well equipped. All you have to bring is your own bedding and towels. Stephen Burger, the owner of the farm, is a fantastic guy, and he surely deserves some of our (the Hilux Forum/Club) support.
Stuff you need to be aware of:
Snakes and other crawleys.
Although we didn’t see any this area is vrot with Puffies, so take care when walking in the bushes, footpaths. Look where you put your foot.
We encountered 2 black thick tailed scorpions. A smaller one on Friday night and a BIG one on Saturday. Johann? I didn’t know you had family in the Sandveld? These are venomous and their sting could be fatal, especially for kids. Parents should be aware of this.
50 degrees is not for sissies.
High pressure fuel pumps don’t like that kind of heat for prolonged perios, and neither do humans.
The human body has huge water storing capacity. I drank about 10 liters of fluids on the trail and was still thirsty when I got back to the campsite, and never once felt the need for a “pit” stop…
An engine conversion is not complete until tested in such extreme conditions. Back to the drawing board.
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone : 082 558 4575
Klein Tafelberg Website : http://www.kleintafelberg4x4.co.za/4x4/
PS I forgot to mention, but Stephen and Ian are both Land Rover drivers….. Luckily I belong to the Hilux4x4 forum and have developed a thick skin.
I loaded some pictures onto Photobucket. You can check them here:http://s235.photobucket.com/albums/ee26 ... Tafelberg/