Friday, 4 January 2008

Moremi - Day 8

Woke up to the alarm instead of the baboons this morning at 7am.  We wanted to be at Riley’s workshop at 8am to get the car checked out.  Of course, the sound had already gone by then and the brakes felt fine, but rather safe than sorry.

A quick shower with hot water (enjoyable) and then at Riley’s by 8.15am, where we had to wait for Solomon, the foreman.  He told us a whole bunch of mechanical stuff and the fact that 9 out of 10 cars would take water into the diff (?) with all the water we had been travelling through.  He couldn’t tell us straight off if the car would be able to continue for the next few days, so left them to it – it was going to take 2 hours, so had to figure out what to do until then.

After a bit of debate, we decided to have breakfast at Riley’s hotel – I hadn’t had any and Dru had only had a couple of breakfast bars.  A good buffet breakfast too – fruit, yoghurt, omelettes, bacon – the works… and coffee, which we’d run out of the day before.

Breakfast was done and we still had an hour to kill, so we decided to go to the internet café next door and see if we could check out some of the photos we had taken and downloaded onto the ipod.

Some really cool shots from both of us, especially of the lion.  Spent a while looking through those before we headed back to Riley’s for the verdict on the car.  However, while we were walking back, I checked the ipod and couldn’t find the photos on it anymore! Almighty panic that we had managed to lose them…  Nothing worse than having that sinking feeling that all your photos have been lost – had the same feeling when all my photos had been stolen earlier in the year.

I rushed back to the internet café to see what was going on – luckily they were all still there on the ipod – relief coursed through me… Made double sure everything was still there, sorted out the technical glitch and went back to Dru, who had stayed to find out about the car.  Gave him the good news and he, in turn, told me that the car is fine.  P500 to tell us something that I knew all along – Kruger wouldn’t let us down…

But they cleaned the car! They had sprayed it down, but it didn’t look right – all shiny and new! When we had just out of the bush… We’re going to have to find some more mud, sand and water ;)
So now we were back on the road with 3 more days before we had to be back in Gaborone and time to make a decision – Nata or Nxai Pan on the way back.  After a chat we decided to head for Nata and the surrounding area.  The problem with Nxai Pan is that I felt the time was too short to explore it properly and we had been there twice already.  Plus there were 2 places to check out around Nata – both of which we suspect don’t have much to offer in terms of seeing anything, so one night each would be fine – well, that’s the theory anyway.  So the plan is to stay 1 night at Elephant Sands and 1 night at the Nata Lodge. 

Relaxing at Elephant Sands
 Elephant Sands is a place about 50km out of Nata on the way to Kasane.  We had stopped to see it on the way back from Chobe last year.  It seemed a cool spot to spend an evening, so we were going to stop there first and then the following day we would head the 50km closer to Gabs and stay at the lodge campsite.  Well, we were going to camp at the lodge until Dru remembered the Nata bird sanctuary, which is near the lodge.  Since neither of us had been to the sanctuary, because the previous year it had been flooded, it was easy to decide to stay there.  The only reason I would want to camp at Nata Lodge would be because there are apparently bushbabies there, which I’d love to see and photograph, but that can be done virtually anytime we’re passing by, I think.  This was a new place for us and worth checking out.

We arrived at Elephant Sands in the afternoon after seeing a couple of elephants along the highway and tracks on the dirt road leading up to the place.  Ben, the guy we had met the previous year, wasn’t there but his daughter Ben-Marie was.  Dru had a quick chat to organise the camping and where she warned us about the puff-adders, then went to go check the spots.  They’re cool, away from the chalets and the main structure and look into the bush.  It’s a nice camping spot if you just need to stay for a night and want a more rustic place than the Nata Lodge.  There’s nothing to see there, or at least we didn’t see anything.  (although we heard that an elephant had come to drink at the water hole outside the bar earlier in the afternoon)

Two guys rocked up at our campsite from the main area juat a bit after we got there.  I suspect the one is Ben-Marie’s boyfriend Pierre, with his friend Jacques.  Apparently Pierre has got himself a piece of land near Kubu Island on the pans and is going to turn it into a land surfing mecca for people from all over the world.  It sounds a bit strange but I’m sure it could work.

The evening was uneventful except for the fact that I think Dru and I both had a bit too much to drink ;) I think the relief at not having to keep constantly alert for big animals gave way to having that extra beer or 2 ;)

The one highlight was showering under the sky at dusk.  The sun was just setting and took a shower in a very rustic structure of bamboo poles with a tree as a roof holding the shower head – it was pretty awesome to watch the sky changing colour while washing.

I tried to photograph the stars in the evening, but that didn’t work because it clouded over, but otherwise the evening was good, with a dinner of pasta and kebabs we had bought in Maun, and marshmallows braaied over the coals for dessert.

Woke up in the early hours of the morning to the sound of what I thought may have been an elephant, but don’t think it was in the end.  Dru thinks it sounded like people chopping firewood, though it may have been the guys killing a 2m long snake, which we would find out the next morning.

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