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!
The Lodge has not been very helpful in providing information about the upcoming ‘activity’, but we were told that it would all change when the guide would fill in the gaps. So we waited for the scheduled time of this pre-Pan meeting, but had to check out in the morning.
So we did, and by 10 in the morning we were locked out of our rondavel, and all bags were packed and closed inside our trusty Duster. We didn’t know what to pack the night before, so we made our educated guesses (it’s probably cold in the desert at night, so we better pack extra warm clothes; there probably also is no lighting, so we have to grab a torch, and the like) and waited it out. Then the time came for our guide to introduce himself (Bakos) and say: bring warm clothes, closed shoes. That was it. He almost literally spoke those four words, and off we were.
First we embarked on a safari Jeep which took us (rough estimate!) 40 kilometers from the lodge to the edge of the Ntwetwe Salt Pan, after which our party of 6 had to share a total of 4 quad bikes. That meant that the two couples each had to share a quad, and that the two dudes travelling together had one each. Life just isn’t fair!
Driving the quad bikes on the salt pan is just plain awesome! Screaming through this completely featureless arid landscape with the wind blowing in your hair is insane fun, and we had a blast driving to the camp. This actually consisted of only a few things: folding chairs, a wood fire, one table, a pile of sleeping bags and an outhouse. All surrounded by the vast emptiness of the pan.
In the wise words of Tim: this is the best hotel room we’ve had.
Our destination for today is a lodge nestled amongst Baobab trees, and it is located on a convenient spot to visit the adjacent salt pans like Nxai Pan and Ntwetwe Pan.
The journey today is about 400 km long and was mostly uneventful except for two moments, the first was when I got a ticket for speeding (76 where 60 was allowed!) and the second one was an accident site where a truck had run into an elephant and its young. Both elephants were dead, and the truck was badly damaged, all in all it was not a nice sight. Luckily, the police were on the scene, and the local villagers were butchering the large elephant to get its meat. That way at least something good comes out of the entire ordeal.
Along the route, we also encountered what might be the rest of the herd of Elephants, who were loitering on the side of the road, jumping the fence to get hold of the green stuff growing on the road side of the fence. Because, as we all know, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. After dinner, we also found a Lesser Bushbaby, or Lesser Galago! This nocturnal primate is known for its cute appearance and elusive behaviour, and we were lucky enough to spot it walking from te lodge’s restaurant to our rondavel. We have been looking for a Bush Baby for ages, and have finally seen one! Awesome!
We are going on a trip to a salt pan tomorrow, so we don’t have to drive ourselves. Looking forward to it!