Archive for April 2013

Kubu Island – an Island Thousand of Kilometers from the Ocean (Day 9/10)

Friday, 5. April 2013

DSCN5905-webDSCN5900-webThe destination of today’s stint is an island thousand of kilometers from any ocean. We cross the Thamalakane River and our GPS presents a rather rare display. We are actually driving on a tar road.

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We enjoyDSCN5949-web the marketing creativity of the local craftsmen – if I had welding to be done, me too would probably trust in Doctor Steel, especially since he has a number of pieces of work in display;
we are astonished about the local basic services – fresh water distributed by donkey carts.

DSCN5978-web DSCN5979-webToday we take some pictures of one of the many veterinary check points on our way thru Botswana. To contain hoof and mouth disease at each veterinary district border tyres and shoes need to be disinfected, and we are lucky that we manage to not get confiscated our today’s rationing of braaivleis.

DSCN5986-web DSCN6001-webKids of the local community are cheering as we leave the tar road and head back into the bush.

 

 

 

The theme for the next stretch: Follow the dust!

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The landscape changes dramatically once we head into the pan.

DSCN6031-webIt is lunch time and another bonnet lunch is on the agenda.

For DSCN6033-web DSCN6032-webthis we stop at a rather big water hole, that initially we had to share with a crowd of vultures on the opposite bank.
DSCN6044-webDSCN6048-webBut it seems it is lunch time for all beast around. Wildebeest and zebra come in their hundreds to the far end of the water hole.

Not sure in what direction to watch out.

 

Freshly re-energized we head for Chapman’s Baobab, a gigantic specimen of its kind.

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The vastness of the pan allows to see the earth’s curvature. A rare optical perception on mainland. Not to forget the mirages that lead to believe being at the beach.

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We experience first hand why land based speed records are concluded on salt lakes. And it is salt, indeed – at least salty sand.

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And despite the vastness of the pan we only slightly miss the track.

 

Time Travel (Day 8/10)

Thursday, 4. April 2013

DSCN5776-webToday’s stint¬† is starting with deep sand again when we make our way towards Savuti, initially the destination of yesterday’s leg. After relaxing night and a good bush breakfast it is an easy challenge, but yesterday afternoon it would have been tough.

DSCN5783-webWe only stop shortly at Savuti camp entrance for a check on one of the vehicles – false alarm. But we seem to look so professional confident that we get asked for advise by some other vehicles coming from the camp. This place seems to be busy – good that we stayed at Linyanti for last night.DSCN5792-web

It is now destination Maun, and sand remains our companion for the most part.

Once we reach what we are going to call the dust highway – a wide pretty even dirt road with a thin layer of fine sand – our convoy stretches; keeping distance to gain some visibility and to minimise the amount of sand we are eating.

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We are back in civilization.

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DSCN5891-webDSCN5892-webOur Camp in Maun is an example of how to make money. Yes our perspective might have been twisted at bit by the experience of he last couple of days where there have been nobody else but our group for miles around. Here we make camp as close to each other as on a parking lot in Sandton. And our trailers barely find a spot to camp. Since we had booked upfront it is not that we had to squeeze for not having planned, but it seems the concept of the camp – the more vehicles you get on the ground the more money you make out of a small piece of land. We don’t allow us to be bothered but head for a cool beer at the camp’s bar.

We knew this morning we were going back to civilization, Maun is the biggest town far around, but we did not anticipate a time travel. Looking at the people around us we could feel like in the late 60s, early 70s. Hippies – time has stood still ever since, only their hair has grown grey and juvenile skin has turned into wrinkles ever since. And wanna-be-hippies, who’s parents must have been still in their diapers back that time.
There is great music from the bar, so we don’t bother too much that the boat for a river cruise is out of order. Instead we enjoy the atmosphere and dinner next to the river bank served by the bar.

Tribute to the deep sands of Chobe (Day 7/10)

Wednesday, 3. April 2013

DSCN5599-webIt is almost a morning routine, deflating tyres for the deep sand to come while breakfast gets prepared.

Today the sand is really deep, and the track in a strange way corrugated. On normal dirt roads it is like corrugated iron sheets for a roof and the tyres dance and shake over it, and it’s all about finding the right speed to travel somewhat comfortable.
Here the dips are at a guess half a wheel diameter deep and 1.5 to 2 wheel diameters long, and barely visible with the sand deep and the sun already pretty high.
Low gear is not an option since it would you dig in. And floating on the surface works barely either. Instead its a constant jumping up and down.

DSCN5613-webDSCN5610-webAfter half the way to the next stretch of tar worrying sound from the rear.
Monique hears rubber squeaking, and I don’t comment to avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The latter didn’t work, my acoustic diagnose got confirmed by visual inspection. – Who can spot the issue ?

Once more we are happy to be on tour with the LROC.
Not only we are not on our own with the calamity, but even better nobody is cross or even bugged. The men feel defiant to proof their skill and to find a solution. And a typical South African divide, the women and children easily find something else to be occupied, e.g. observing bawdy creatures.
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Tell me, what do you see?

The issue with the vehicle is serious, but word is about a garage near by. And off they are, two of us to find the garage. In the interim the rest debates and works on a solution. First challenge get the suspension aligned.
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Then there is nothing but waiting for the two scouts, hopefully coming back with the right bolt.DSCN5645-web
There it is freshly welded and burning hot. It has the right dimension, but we fail to get it in. 2/3 towards the head it is not not round but octagonal, no way to get it into the damaged bushes. And this is the only thing they got at the workshop. While we discuss alternative options the guy from the workshop arrives. His place is only 4 km from here, just off the road. He takes the bold to improve it with a grinder, and with joint efforts we rig a makeshift.

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The workshop is really close by, and if we had known upfront we would have gone immediately there. As was to be expected elephants guard our way. The workshop itself: pretty basic, but the craftsmen with ingenuity.

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Monique loves the “fire station”.

Suspension fixed and off we go for a couple of kilometers on tar thru baobab land.

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Back into deep sand, then thru high gras. The GPS proofs we are still on track, thanks to Tracks4Africa.¬† The forced stop earlier is taking its toll, my tummy’s rumbling.

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Finally stop for another bonnet lunch. But not for long since we have still a way to go, now thru almost forest. And since we are in elephant territory, there are elephant graveyards too.

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Chances are it is getting late until we reach today’s destination. Luckily we can change on the fly. There is Linyanti Camp on the way, belonging to the same owner, and nobody has booked there. So this is our stay for the night.

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Setting up camp is quick, we are used to it and meanwhile trained. Another fun evening to come. A stunning view over the river were the sun will set. What else do you need but a sun downer – we still have some gin and tonic as well as ice cubes left – to be at one with the world.

DSCN5771-webOf course the camp is unfenced, and there are not only a large crowd of baboons making their way to the water. But unlike the Cape baboons these are not used to humans, and hence pretty shy. Geoff imitates the sound of a big male and off they go. We don’t need to fear for our diner. Very interesting the elephant proofed water taps in the camp. The river is close at the moment and even with the dry season in full swing water would be not too far, but elephants would smell the water in the pipes and would rip off the taps to get to the precious water.
The next morning Alex and Taun would tell us. Since they made dinner, they only went for a shower after dark when we already went to sleep. Leaving the ablutions with no torch they almost bumped into an elephant standing just opposite the entrance.