Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Moremi - Day 5

Moremi sunset
Woke up late on New Year’s Day – the baboons had already gone, which was good.  Breakfast of muffins and bananas, and then the plan was to head back on the road to South Gate and explore that area.  Quick check of the neighbourhood and then headed to the ablutions to fill up the water cans.  And there we met up with Doug – one of the guys from the campsite next door – seems like him and his wife, Marion, are the only English couple out of the convoy. 

And he has a fantastically kitted out bakkie – he customised it himself over 2 years.  As he said, he used to go to the outdoor shows and “steal with his eyes and measure with his fingers” ;) Looks very organised, with even an electrical plug on the back and a water tap on the side.  Dru had a long chat with him, they had come through the pans and said it was hard going – though you would expect that if you were attempting the pans in the wet.  They had got stuck numerous times and one of the cars, an Isuzu bakkie, broke down – he actually towed it 300km through the marsh into Maun – very impressive.

Their big advantage is that they have a guide – a white local chap that knows the area like the back of his hand and speaks the language.  Doug said he’d been fantastic so far guiding them.  Turns out it was the guy that came walking to our tent the previous night! He has only 1 leg, the other was apparently taken by a crocodile, but still doesn’t seem to put him off anything.

Carmine bee-eater
Saw Barry and his family as well, they were getting ready to head back to Cape Town, so quick hellos to them.  Also saw a very strange bunch – a group of Indian guys with absolutely no camping gear with them, but found out that they were from Maun and had just come up for the day – long way to travel in from just for a few hours.

Headed off down the South Gate road on a very gloomy day – could see the beginnings of a storm threatening but it managed to hold off during the morning.  We parked off at a waterhole for a long time just watching the birds.  There were no buck, except for a couple of impalas and a wildebeest on the edge of the clearing, then spotted 5 jackals slinking around. 
 We were hoping that this was an indication of a cat in the area, but after waiting around for about 45 minutes with no sign of activity, we gave the theory up.  Drove up the road about a kilometre or 2, when Dru spotted some fresh pugs, which looked suspiciously like cheetah tracks. So we went back to the nearest waterhole and had lunch of leftover meat rolls in anticipation of a cat sighting, but it didn’t happen.  Did see a Carmine bee-eater bashing an insect against a stump – and it was cool to watch one of the smaller creatures at work for a change.

Young black-backed jackal
Started heading up the road after lunch, but the storm that had been threatening all day looked like it was about to break, and decided the wisest move would be to turn back, specially since it was getting late, and being only us in the one car – the rain could change the complexion of the waterholes completely and we could get seriously stuck.

Just as we thought that the storm was going to miss us, it started bucketing down, that very heavy storm rain.  Drove for a while in it, but you could hardly see anything, so decided to wait it out for a while.  Stopped at another waterhole along the way to make some afternoon coffee.  We got a temporary shelter up on the passenger side using the groundsheet over the open door, and put the gas cooker on the ground to boil the water.

Making a plan to make coffee in the rain
One of the most amusing thing was to see Dru crouched in the back of the car organising the coffee cos he didn’t want to get wet… what is this?  We had our coffee and a shot of Tia Maria in collapsible cups – a cute gift given to us for Christmas.  Nice and pleasant to sip coffee and liqueur and watch the waterhole, although nothing was happening, with the exception of 3 giraffes standing dead still on the outskirts of the plain watching us and pretending to be trees…

Once the rain had eased, we took a slow drive down and around the 3rd bridge plains.  Met a group of 4 guys and a girl in a big yellow bakkie with EC plates (the Eastern Cape in SA) that were heading in from South Gate.  The driver told us that the roads were bad, having to be in 4 wheel drive for quite a distance, but they did see 3 cheetahs along the way, which made us green with envy – that’s one of the main things we were looking for…
Wandered back to camp after stopping here and there to check out the game in the rain, lit the fire and then went down the road to check out the sunset which clouded over anyway…

Dinner was leftover stuffed meat, since we had made double the previous night, along with smash (mashed potatoes).  Decided to call it a night pretty early, but when we were in the roof tent, having a drink of Wild African Cream, we spotted the hyena back and slinking around and got some awesome sighting of the big guy.  And not once, but about 3 times – he was totally unaffected by the torchlight on him, although I think it makes him a little more cautious.  He hung around for a while, sniffing the rubbish and eating the smash that Dru had thrown out, before heading out to raid the next campsite.  Where else can you lie and watch a spotted hyena walk around with a drink in your hand on New Year’s Day?

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