With the prospect of seeing the Augrabies Falls in flood, James and his team arranged to meet with three other vehicles at Witsand on Sunday, 23 January 2022.
On their way to Witsand, they experienced a fire in the engine compartment when the DC/DC unit exploded. Quick reaction by James grabbing the fire extinguisher and he managed to extinguish the flames. After rewiring the battery terminal, they were able to meet Dave, Martin and Andrew in Witsand.
Kate, James’ sister who was traveling with him, arranged a birthday breakfast for Monday, 24 January. James left camp with Andrew who was having battery problems. They spent most of the day in Uppington sorting the battery out.
Later that day, they all arrived at Augrabies that was flowing at over 3000 CmMl sec. The local flooding was so bad that they were unable to do the 4×4 route in the park.
The team left on Wednesday, 19 January to Riemvasmaak via the Senuc 4×4 trail. This proved to be a very long day at the office for all of them as they could not establish a comfortable pace through the rocky roads. After Bacon O’clock, coined by Dave, they crossed the mighty Gariep/Orange River into the Vasmaak Hot Spring with temperatures scorching at 51 degrees according to the vehicle thermometer.
The team left camp to refuel at Poffadder, where Andrew had problems with filling up as a plastic nozzle (from a jerry can refill) was partially blocking the tank. It took a very long time to fill his tank., but they still managed to visit Pella to see the beautiful church.
All proceeded towards Orange River via Charlie’s Pass. Down the river towards Klein Pella, the Orange River had burst its banks. James led the cars through deep water, followed by Andrew successfully. Martin did not follow in Andrew’s track and landed up deep in the river, drowning his vehicle which had stopped. Dave bringing up the rear, successfully passed the obstruction. What a disaster!
Martin’s Toyota Land Cruiser was so deep that he had to sit on the passenger door in the window holding onto the roof rack for support. In attempting to turn his vehicle around to winch Martin out, Dave’s car got stuck on the bank. His car had to be winched out, securing it to a massive rock, and damaging his side door in doing so. More damage!
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Dave waded into the waist high water, securing the winch to Martin’s vehicle. We secured the front of Dave’s vehicle to Andrew’s vehicle which had also been turned around. The winch recovery was successful. As Martins car would not start, Dave towed it to Klein Pella.
Due to the rough conditions for towing, Dave’s rear bumper was badly buckled. Martin had fitted two ply tyres and had a puncture while been towed. More problems!
On arrival at Klein Pella to camp, they realized that Martin’s car was going nowhere. Martin slept in a bungalow as all his gear was wet including his electric gear and cell phone.
By Friday morning, 21 January, Martin used the Klein Pella office phone to sort out things for his car. It was decided that the vehicles would carry on with the trip and Martin would stay on at the Date Farm.
The three cars drove through lots of water but eventually it was too dangerous and we turned back. Eventually arrived late in Voolsdrift. Battled to find a camp site but we eventually all camped at The Growcery.
On Saturday morning, 22 January, Dave left us to go to Springbok to have his aircon fixed as it was unbearably hot.
James and Andrew went up Hellskloof Pass, where they all laid their stones. They waited over two hours in a scorching Eksteenfontein as they had cell coverage. They refused to proceed without having made contact with Dave. After they made contact and sent coordinates and got ETA, the two cars proceed to Bakkrans Caves.
They took a drive to the top of the mountain to see if they could get radio coverage to Dave. They were successful, however, James managed to slash the side wall on a tyre and the wheel was changed. Thereafter, they set up camp. As Dave was now late, James with Andrew in the one car, went to find him. Once he was found, they guided him to the cave.
By Sunday morning, 23 January, the team proceeded to Richertsveld to De Hoop came site where they then decided to cut their trip short and headed back to help Martin.
Heard of the local man who put his 2.8 GD6 Toyota Hilux to the test and found himself in deep waters, literally, while crossing the Boteti River Crossing in Botswana? Click here for more information and to view the action-packed video.
On the way to Port Nollith, Dave and Andrew went to the mouth of the Orange River (unbeknownst to James) after they had stopped for fuel. James proceeded to Port Nollith, driving very slowly and with a lot of stops waiting for the others to catch up. They tried many times to reach them on the radio and phones, but could not connect. James and Kate set up camp in Port Nolloth. Contact was finally made and Andrew advised us that they were badly stuck in deep mud at the mouth. They were directed to the camp and arrived dirty, tired and utterly exhausted around 9pm.
James and his sister left Dave and Andrew at Port Nolloth so they could go and assist Martin back at Klein Pella.
James and Kate proceeded down the West Coast and after deflating tyres in soft sand, managed to destroy three tyres in the process. They replaced four tyres in total in Luitzville.
After camping in various places including Tankwa Karoo NP, they officially concurred their trip and finished their Northern Cape Epic adventure at Sutherland.