We crossed over at the Mata Mata frontier post and got the carnet stamped (the South African refused to stamp ours on the way out and I’m sure that will be a bit of trouble we need to sort out when we go back into South Africa next year – stamp in stamp out, seems fairly straightforward, but evidently not…).
Mata Mata border – let us in please
Our destination was the Brukkaros crater. We originally thought this might be the one used in Spectre, but that’s in Morocco. There were two campsites shown on our Tracks4Africa map (and their Garmin map of Africa), so we went for that. The drive from the border to near the crater was uneventful and relatively flat, then the only mound for miles around started rearing up.
We went to the local town to see if they had any shops, but they hadn’t and there was a gathering going on with what looked like a small livestock market going on and a few stalls. We were a bit pushed and had food anyway, so we turned around and headed towards the mountain.
The crater looms up
There was a sign up with a phone number for camping, but we hadn’t got our local SIM yet, so we carried on driving. We got to the first building and it was run down with no roof and the lower campsite was similar. This was a real shame because the buildings looked like they once looked really smart with a great looking outside shower per plot. We carried on up a relatively steep and rutted track to the upper campsite and this was in the same condition. However the drop toilet there was still functioning and we thought we’d stay.
We were slightly nervous about doing it, but it was miles from the nearest town and clearly no-one was looking after this place, but the view up towards the crater and across the plain was spectacular so we went for it.
How’s that for a camping spot
The braai was on, the beer was already out and Gareth was walking around with no shirt on as it was still hot later on in the evening. The evenings menu was steak and chips. The chips were on in the frying pan, when Angela said someone’s coming. Best put a shirt on then and greet them properly.
6 people came over the brow of the hill and started walking down to us – gulp. There were two older men, two younger men, a girl and a small boy. We said hello and stated our names and they did too. We asked if we were ok to stay there and the most well spoken of the two younger guys said yes. They spent the next 5 minutes chatting and taking lots of pictures of us and the car and the campsite – we thought we’d be on some wanted website for illegal campers.
We talked about who they were and they said they were part of a local co-operative, the zebra co-operative and wanted to bring the site back to life. It had been corruptly run and when it closed 3 years ago, local farmers raided the place and stole the roofs and doors and windows from the chalets. They said they were from the local town, but were staying 50kms away as their house was being done up.
They eventually said their goodbyes and left.
THE CHIPS. They were slightly overcooked by now, but at least the steak hadn’t gone on yet. So we cooked that and had a bit of a half and half meal
We were slightly paranoid all evening about someone coming back knowing there would be things of interest in the car.
Morning came and we talked ourselves into the hike to the rim of the crater. That meant leaving the car unattended for at least 2 hours and spotting a bit of broken car glass near the start of the walk didn’t calm the nerves. What a paranoid walk up that was, looking back whenever we could (obviously a futile gesture given how long it would take us to get back to it, but it helped a little…
The hike was a hot one despite leaving relatively early, but the crater was worth it.
Worth that walk
We turned around and headed back and all was well with the car – all nice and intact. You can’t help what you think though. Next we’re off to the Quiver Tree Forest and hopefully see a man about the squeaky brakes as they are still there.