Central Kalahari

 

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// Nikon D7200 |-21.32411 : 23.86979 |alt. 953m

Central Kalahari, here we are !
Very important note before going into this park/desert…. there is no water ! It is a very remote place, and you have to be completely self sufficient, this also means you have to be able to fix your car if you break down. There is no cell service, and help is far away !

Wake up at 5am, to get our best chances to spot wildlife at sunrise. But Eiji and Chizu are still too tired to leave, so I went solo for the first drive in the park.

I went straight south to the deception pan, but only saw oryx and springboks… nothing else ! So I kept driving along the southern loop until I hit the western point. At a cross road, I stopped to look at the map but my brake pedal became very spongy, Hmmm, I tried again, and for sure, I was loosing pressure. Shit.

I drove to the nearest campsite, not that it offers any protection since no camp is fenced inside the park, but at least the bush is low, and you can see incoming animals. There I went below and saw a leak on my rear brake line. Ok, time to read the diagrams of the vehicle, and see how it looks, I may get lucky and have a dual hydraulic system….. nope ! My whole system is leaking ! Next step is to check what’s running on it, I may have an hydraulic clutch, in which case, I will soon be unable to shift gear.. which is my case !

I kept driving, this time going for the fastest and shortest route back to camp, but the hydraulic alarm quickly went off.
Of course, the pump is still trying to put the system under pressure, and I’m bleeding the entire system…. If it gets empty, I won’t be able to shift gear, and I’ll get stuck for good here… (I only have half a liter of fluid in the trunk, and the whole system contains 7L)
No choice, I have to stop the leak. Well, not easy in a park with so many predators !
I found a nice open area with low bush, but to be honest, it was really scary to spend time below the van. Every few minutes, I had to step out, and watch the surroundings for predators… not a nice feeling !
I did a first patch, very quickly, put some more fluid, and kept driving.

Still no response from the brake pedal, but at least I was not draining all my fluid…. until the alarm came again…..
Alright, now it’s time to drive fast, without brake, to hit the campground on the other side of the park before sunset ! I engaged the 4wd, low gear to maximize the engine break, and drove as fast as I could without brakes. It’s easy to stop on sandy track, but not fast enough to doge massive holes or crevasses on the way…. I went airborne a few times, and banged the front end so many times I lose count. That took a big toll on my nerves…

I finally made it to the camp, jacked the van, and went for a proper patch. This time it’s enough to stop the leak while driving, but of course, not enough to use the brake. At least, my clutch is working !

All this, for nothing, I didn’t see any animal on the way !!! And should I blame mitsubishi for this poor design ? Not even ! The culprit is the fucking idiot who put airbags on the rear suspension. The bottom plate was touching the brake line since the beginning and was slowly grinding the metal. It was just a matter of time before it breaks. If that happened while driving the high mountains of Lesotho, I would be dead for sure….

And this is not over yet. I need to fix the car, and the only place for that is the biggest city in northern Botswana : Maun, 400kms north of the park. No way to tow the van obviously, and no way to get a flatbed truck in this remote corner of the globe, so I will have to drive all the way to Maun without brakes !
I was looking for adventure, there it is !

We still had one day left in the park, so we went for a last drive using Eiji’s landcruiser. This time we went north to the closest waterhole and had breakfast there, but not a single animal in the area (still a few beautiful bee catchers) Disappointing…… We waited a few hours but nothing, not even a gembok (the most common mammal in the park)

So we left for the deception pan in the south, and this time we’ve been lucky to spot a leopard, stalking a couple of gemboks. Very interesting to see the animal on the hunt, standing on his back legs from time to time to see above the bush, and slowly crawling toward his victim. They all went out of sight, so that was it for us. On the way back, we spotted a few jackals, and highlight of the trip, a weasel !

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