Archive for March 2013

Hunters Road – on the Border towards the Border Post (Day 4/10)

Sunday, 31. March 2013

GettingDSCN5284-web DSCN5282-webup early is becoming
rather a routine.
Objective is to dismantle
camp before it gets too hot.

Remember,
our air condition are the flaps
below the windscreen and
in the tropical roof.

Lesson learned from the day before (although everything went fine): Low gear and mud are not compatible. Today there is no way out other than through it.

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Looking at our old lady you can’t deny there has been mud.
A windscreen washer system would be nice now, since picture talking while on the road the outcome now is blurred.

There are skeptical observers on our descent to Kasane, all the way into the outskirts of town.
And back on tar we are happy that this queue is not ours but he trucks waiting to cross border into Zambia.

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Crossing border into Zimbabwe is much smoother than expected, but nevertheless an experience: Paper work, paper work, paper work! “Deformation Professionelle” kicks in and I can’t help but to think how much processes, customer experience and labour conditions could be improved by a rather simple ECM solution. Stop! You are not at work, not in that area of business any longer anyway, and most importantly we are on vacation.
And what it costs! We knew all upfront, the road fee, the pollution tax – luckily our insurance did cover Zimbabwe, so car insurance didn’t apply – and last not least the visa fee if you are not a SADC citizen, 30 US$ per person. It sums up.
But it could have been worse. We were told that carrying a British passport you pay more than double. Should I call it post-colonial revenge?

And then there was Monique’s special experience. Paperwork was done, we got our passports stamped and were leaving the office and got into our car. 25 meters to the gate and we will be in finally. “Where is your Gate Pass?” Oh sh…, although we knew we need it, we forgot to collect. So I was running back to the office to get it. You should know the gate pass is a piece of paper, about A7 size, looking as if it was cut by hand from A4 paper and carrying a stamp and in handwriting the number of passengers in a vehicle. Luckily I got mine immediately.
Meanwhile Monique was sitting in the vehicle next to the gate, when one of the guys – officials? – approach the car. “What do you bring?”
Monique countered: “We are going to Victoria Falls and will spent quite some money. Isn’t that enough contribution to develop the country?”
While saying this she did pity the guy, and she offered him a chewing gum. Handing over the blister she did expect he was going to squeeze out one gum. Before she did realise what happened, the guy turned around, and off he went with the whole blister.
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Once past the border post Monique did take over the helm. But why is she looking such exerted? Is it anger about what she did just encounter at the border post? Or is the pattern on Zimbabwean road hypnotising her? Or is she just mad because once more lunchtime past and we were far from having lunch?

DSCN5328-webEventually we reached the camp ground in Victoria Falls and made camp for an early dinner.

Morning has Broken (Day 3/10)

Saturday, 30. March 2013

Cat Stevens’ voice loud and clear indicated the night was over. We had a good and deep sleep despite the fact that we had heard lions in the distance during the night. An amazing feeling having stayed over in the middle of the bush hours away from the next human settlement.

The fire is quickly back at full force and soon a hearty breakfast awaiting.
And then what will become a routine over the next couple of days, packing and clearing the site so that there is close to nothing remembering that we’ve been here.

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We are curious what the day will bring, how challenging the track will be, what sightings and surprises will be offered.

DSCN5105-webDSCN5106-webCat Stevens seems have
chased all animals away.
The Termite mount we
come across next is only
one of many, but still
pretty peculiar.

A new experience and skill
to learn is looking for the
mud conditions.

At the next water hole there is proof we are in elephant country. Look at this tree used as rubbing post. You only can imagine how big these animals are if you compare to a human scale. Taun may be 1.75 m – look how much above his head the rubbing marks reach.

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The track becomes narrower and the gras grows higher, a clear indication that the land gets wetter. Which means, stay alert for mud.

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DSCN5181-webInteresting spurs an elephant – in this very case actually multiple elephants – leaves behind in this environment. Not to be overseen, but to be known to be recognised.

 

The track is changing,
sand  again,
and there were
other tracks to be found.

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Clear evidence, we are in Lion territory.

But we don’t see them. Instead some nice flowers along the way.

And the driving becomes more challenging again

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Then the landscape opens and we drive into the pan.
Water almost everywhere, and consequestly mud. This time no way around, only thru.

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Although nobody got stuck, and most of the mud areas we could circumnavigate today’s stint took longer than expected: 165 kilometers in 5:45 hours, meaning 28 kilometers per hour – admitted we made some stops to check out road conditions, identify tracks, or hoping the raptor which caught a snake in flight very close to the car would allow for a nice picture.

So we were starting to starve and our leader decided to make camp for a late lunch / early dinner.

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DSCN5278-web                                          A muffin in style

.                                             as a combination of
.                                             high tea

.                                             and

.                                             appetiser.

Now the Adventure Starts (Day 2/10)

Friday, 29. March 2013

After a relaxed breakfast we head into Nata to get filled up. The pump station is not only the meeting point for all motorists, but also the playground of a local chicken.

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We are leaving Nata towards Kasane, but off the beaten tracks. We follow the old Hunters Road along the Botswana/Zimbabwe border. True Africa and two nights of wild camping in the middle of the bush are lying ahead of us.

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The road, which actually is just a track quickly becomes narrower and less visible. Serious driving just starts.

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Reaching the water hole where we intend to have lunch, there is somebody else who had the same idea. And he seems not amused seeing us coming. But if he stays on his side and we on ours, we will be all fine. And we can enjoy our first bonnet lunch.

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Freshly starched we head for the first dune. One of the trailers is struggling a bit climbing it. So we stop on top. Monique gets upset when she leaves the vehicle. “Why do people litter everywhere”, she says when she reaches for a piece of wire sticking out of the sand. Only to realise that it is quite a big piece of wire, which she can’t pull from under the car.

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Why us again?

Wire off the axles it is about deflating the tyres to get ready for deep sand.

DSCN5059-webDSCN5061-webDSCN5062-webDriving is complemented by watching out for sightings, and later in the day for a place to stay. The water hole in the middle of nowhere looks like an ideal spot to make camp with a chance to potentially spot wild life just next.

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Preparing the bushshower and setting up tent and then sitting around the fire for dinner.

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