With a full tank of diesel and 4 working tyres, we start the 530km long first leg towards Windhoek. It will take us from Maun (Botswana) to a lodge just outside of Buitepos (Namibia) and back from the lush green world to the arid dry land.
The lodge we are staying at is called Kalahari Bush Breaks, and they offer a 4×4 track on their land. Besides catering the tourists, it also is a working game farm, which means they have about 22 species of animals living on the farm which are bred for their meat and hide. The track is meant to provide the users a nice way to view the game, but it proved to be just a little too much for our Duster.
The ground clearance of the car is just too little for us to drive the track as we almost got stuck, after which we decided to turn around and drive back. We got to about half of the 22km track, and it turned out to be a good decision. Tim & Rosaline have a car with much more ground clearance, and they informed us that there was at least another point where we would have gotten ourselves in trouble. In the end, it is just not worth it. We started the drive together, as we were unsure what it would bring.
Our room overlooks a water hole which is lit by night, and we drank the last of their beers sitting on our porch while viewing the Water Buck, Kudu and Impala, while listening to a male Impala trying to impress the females by grunting and barking. Quite amusing yet rather scary as the noise that small animal makes is really low and loud. You wouldn’t guess that it was an Impala making that sound.
We are not woken up by the heavy breathing of an elephant this morning, but by the rather stark “hello” from our guide. This also meant that walking on the pathways was safe again, which is also nice.
We chose to do a boat tour this morning after our breakfast, and it turned out to be a great decision! With elephants munching on the grass around virtually every corner, and lots of other animals showing themselves or basking in the morning sun, it was a wonderful boat tour. Unfortunately, it was cut short as our flight back to Maun was at 11:50, so we arrived back at the lodge at 10. This left us plenty of time to have a really early lunch and grab all our stuff to get on the plane. The people at Moremi Crossing have been really nice to us, and the place itself is ultimately serene while the scenery is stunningly gorgeous. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity, please visit the Okavango Delta: preferably from a camp almost inside the National Park. It will not disappoint you!
Our pilot today was Mitch, and the flight back rather uneventful. Only a short 20 minutes later we were at the Arivals/Departures hall in Maun, and after a quick call to the place where our car is parked we got picked up and brought back to the Duster.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing and fixing our front tyre as it has a slow puncture. This was skilfully mended by a guy from Tyre World for the hefty sum of 30 pula, which is about €2,75. Yeah!
Tomorrow, we’ll start our two legged journey to Windhoek with a long drive back to Namibia. With fixed tyres and enough air in them, we feel confident everything will go swimmingly. 😉
Staying in Maun is just the stepping stone for us, the first step towards staying at a private camp right next to the National Park. We have booked a couple of nights at Moremi Crossing, and today is the day we fly out to the camp.
First order of business: parking the car at the headquarters of the company owning the camp. It is called Under One Botswana Sky, and is situated a short distance from Maun International Airport. We parked the car, with plenty of time to spare for our 10:10 flight. The shuttle to the airport proved to be the car of the manager, and we were soon after this in the capable hands of a porter who was going to get our luggage into the right plane. For us, this was a storable bag of 10kg, and my backpack containing all our photo gear. Just shy of 20kg, we were pretty much maxed out on our 10kg per person maximum.
Checking in was a breeze, we were actually given our hand written ticket by the porter without even mentioning our names or showing our passports, and the security check was equally swift. We told the porter which bags contained liquids or knives, and they were immediately taken away and transported in the baggage compartment of the plane (under the belly). Our own bags had to go through a security scanner, we passed through a metal detector and we were in the holding area. A short while later, we were directed into a car, which lead us to our 4 seat plane, with a total of 5 passengers. Kirsten was the lucky one to sit in the seat of the co-pilot, I got the seat on the last row. The flight was short, bumpy and it passes over a fantastic scenery.
The camp has a rigid schedule: wake up call at 06:30 in the morning, breakfast at 7, and the morning activity starts at 07:30. It returns at 11, after which lunch is served at 11:30. This is where we arrived at the camp. After lunch, the siesta commences and lasts until 15:00 when a high tea is served. The evening activity starts at 16:00, and you come back at 18:00. You are then escorted to your safari tent, and are picked up by the guide at 19:15 for pre dinner drinks. At 19:30 dinner is served and a guide escorts you back to your tent. As elephants roam free in this camp, walking after dark alone is prohibited and a guide must accompany you at all times. The next day the exact same schedule is kept, and everything starts over.
Wow, what a night was that. Cold, a little damp, completely silent and we were literally star struck by the vast twinkling expanse over our sleeping bag. The moon showed up late in the night, which gave us enough time to gaze at the Milky Way and the southern stars and constellations.
Waking up was a little tough though, as there is no shower and the sleeping bag is a much more comfortable temperature than the outside. The way back on the quad bikes was as awesome as the way in, but before we knew it we were back at Planet Baobab and our slowly leaking left front tire. Luckily, our new found friends and accidental travelling companions Tim & Rosaline have a compressor and pressure gauge, so that issue was quickly and temporarily resolved. Mending the tire will have to wait for a large town, and that just so happens to be where we are headed next.
Maun is the destination, and a mere 240km and half a diesel tank away. The fuel gauge on our Duster has a very spotty performance, and we’ve come to distrust whatever it tells us. It has been more empty than reported, but also more full than reported. So, without knowing how much diesel was left, we went our merry way and hoped for the best. The unfortunate thing was that the nearest filling station was in Nata, 90 kilometers in the opposite direction of where we were heading. The other one was in Maun. We managed though, and had plenty of diesel left when we reached our destination.
We’ll fly to a camp on a private concession next to the Okavango Delta National Park from Maun, so we are looking forward to getting spoiled!