Everything in Nature is in balance – so too was our Botswanan adventure. In the first blog I waxed lyrical about the joy, peacefulness and calmness we experienced. This is the other side of the proverbial coin.
Our initial challenge was water crossings, the first of which was on the road between Nata and Maun. A huge expanse of water (more than 2km long) faced us – we couldn’t see to the other side of it. The road had washed away. The water was half way up the car doors. It was impossible to know what line to take and terrifying when, well into the crossing, we had huge trucks heading straight for us travelling in the opposite direction! We all thankfully reached the other side with eyes as big as dinner plates. It had been a water baptism with a difference for our German friends who were experiencing their first Botswana Safari.
Water crossings occurred frequently thereafter. It’s usually good practise to first walk through the water to gauge depth and any potholes etc. and at the same time being aware of the presence of hippo and crocs. This had not been possible with the first crossing.
On our first day out traversing in the park, we returned to total devastation of the interior of the two caravans – a baboon raid had occurred in our absence. Our friends’ hired caravan had had the grocery cupboard door ripped off, all the foodstuffs ripped open and puddles of baboon urine was everywhere! In our caravan, they had ripped open the stitching around a canvas window. The only food which was available to them was a container of home-baked high fibre rusks which they proceeded to consume; with the high fibre content having an immediate effect on their bowels! The ensuing mess and smell was indescribable! Fortunately, it was midday and the clean-up process began immediately with loads of hand washing of bed linen - thanks to sunny warm weather most of the washing was dry by the evening. Thank goodness for a spare set of bed linen! After this nasty encounter, we ensured that there were always a few camp guards (from our group) left to ward off any marauding baboons!
Our camp elephant was also a challenge. He enjoyed the Marula fruit which fell from the trees in the campsite. However, being in musth, he was unpredictable and we had several encounters with him, the last of which was pretty up-close. One night he ventured through the middle of our camp in amongst all the guide ropes and investigated what everybody had in their kitchen. We were gathered around the camp fire when we noticed this enormous head between two trailer-top tents. He squeezed through this seemingly impossible narrow opening and kept coming towards us running his trunk along one kitchen surface and knocking a pot to the ground. He then changed direction and decided to go back along the road and ‘melted’ into the shadows.
It was slow going on the ‘roller coaster’ road from Moremi to Savuti. The usual route to North Gate wasn’t possible as it was flooded, so we had to back-track taking the cut-line. This route also had a long deviation that took us through “scratchy” winding Mopane woodland vegetation as there was an enormous lake in the road with water lilies growing in it – an indication that the water was deep. There is no signage, so it’s guess work to find the way through the maze of criss-crossing tracks! Eventually though, we found our way back to the road just on the other side of the ‘lake’. It was dusk as we arrived at our camp and we still had to tackle setting up camp in the dark. Grateful thanks, once again, for a delicious and nutritious ready-made Minestrone soup with quinoa and veg patties on the side.
The onward journey from Savuti to the Chobe Reserve was also a long, tough journey, but we emerged to a spectacular view of the enormous expanse of the Chobe River seemingly doubled in sight! Being fully aware of the challenge of baboon raids, we generally left a few people in the camp whilst others went out on game-viewing drives.
In closing my account on this amazing adventure, I have an excerpt from my diary.
‘As I write this, I have a spectacular view from our little veranda across the lush green lawn through to the Chobe River with the sunlight sparkling on it. Tonight is our final dinner in Kasane where we’re all going to gather at the Old House Restaurant. Tomorrow we leave at 7.30am to travel to the border at Martin’s Drift. We’ll be staying at Kwanokeng Lodge – a journey of about 8 hours. Then it’s an early start to be at the border at 6am (as it opens) to make a head start for the journey to Pretoria and then the next day a 5am start on the final leg back to Durban.’
Memories crowd my mind; some of which are documented by the photos which will give you, the reader, a small window into our Botswana experience.