Just over 8km southwest of the entrance into the CKGR you'll find the small Matswere Scout Post at (GPS:MATSWE). Here you can sign in and, if you ask the scouts politely, it's sometimes possible to fill up with brackish water – which is fine for showers, but not suitable for drinking. (You should have arrived with all your own water, but if you didn't then make the most of this. There are no other waterpoints north of Xade.)
Visiting in the dry season, the general quality of the tracks in the park is surprising. Many of them, particularly those which follow the valleys, are really very good. You might have expected to be constantly ploughing through deep sand, but it's not like that. Of course there are patches of deep and tricky sand, and also stretches of black-cotton soil (rock hard when dry; virtually impassable if very wet), but many of the road surfaces are easy and hard when it's dry.
A Cautionary Tale
On one morning's game-viewing, driving slowly north into the end of Deception Valley, we spotted something unfamiliar moving in the distance. Training our binoculars, we could see the top half of a woman, waving. We signalled that we'd seen her and continued, eventually taking a right track to head in her direction.
Approaching with some trepidation, we found a distressed Tswana woman on her own. She'd been standing on the roof of the 4WD all morning, trying to attract attention. In fact she was one of the park's staff who, together with a few colleagues, had been driving from the Matswere Scout Post to Xade. (I never learnt why they were on a side-track off the main route!)
It seems that late the previous day the fuel filter in their old Land Rover had sprung a bad leak, marooning them there. They'd slept overnight, but with little water or food, her colleagues had set off to walk the 50km or so back to Matswere, and perhaps find visitors on the way who could help.
I spent a petrol-soaked hour under the vehicle, attempting a bush repair with no success, before offering her a lift back to the park's office. However, it transpired that this was the scout camp's only vehicle, so they wouldn't be able to do much. Hours later a better-equipped modern Land Rover approached; it carried a bush-wise South African couple who travelled with what seemed like a garage full of spares and tools. Her colleagues had managed to flag this vehicle down, and enlist the couple's help.
They were lucky. The park's other staff would have been virtually powerless to help – even if they'd known about the breakdown. Fortunately these visitors had the right tools and spare parts, so a repair was soon made. All set off again to Xade in their clapped-out Land Rover with few supplies. I hope they got there.
The morals of this story are simple:
• Don't expect any help from the parks staff; they probably won't have the vehicles or resources.
• Don't come to the CKGR without some basic spares, a simple tool kit, and another vehicle to help you out.
• A satellite phone isn't totally necessary, but is a wise back-up; so bring one if possible.
• Ample food and water are absolutely essential; bring more than you expect to need.