We woke up to buffaloes grazing their way through the campsites as campers were enjoying their morning coffee. They behaved like domesticated cattle, but we would definitely not give it a try to be as friendly as we might be with cattle!
Our Swiss friends left shortly after breakfast, but returned shortly after to tell us there was a pack of wild dogs that had just made a kill! We packed up in a hurry and followed them. Unfortunately, there was nothing much left of the kill besides the pinkish fur around the dogs mouths. We spent the next two hours just hanging around and following the pack: it was scary and exciting at the same time to see the dogs wandering around where we had been drinking coffee just that morning!
After that exciting start of the day, we went driving around in the greater Moremi-Kaxanaxa area.
We took some coffee breaks while watching a variety of big and small wildlife.
Because there was a lot of water, there is also abundant birdlife. We spotted a fish eagle scouring the waters for prey and a kingfisher that had bitten off more than he could manage! We saw a lizard of two and some white egrets and oxpeckers keeping the hippo’s company. And of course… lots of elephants. They say there are more elephants in Botswana that rats in South Africa! And being there… we could very well believe it.
It was reasonably dry in the Delta… the rainy season hadn’t started yet. So, we thought that dry river crossings would be just that: dry. Not so much. At one such crossing we skirted the portion that looked very rutted and muddy and thought we were ok on the – what looked like – the drier passage on the side. But no … it wasn’t dry and, for a change, we sunk away. Trokkie’s weight cracked the thin dry crust on the top and down we went. Stefaan usually first tries to get out of this kind of pickle with driving forwards and backward in the hope of getting traction and getting us out, but unfortunately this usually ends up with Trokkie getting deeper and deeper in either sand or mud. Stefaan tried the winch, but we couldn’t get traction. So he had to dig: noon, nice and sunny and before you know he was sweating like a pig! With only one shovel, unfortunately, he had to to the digging.
In the midst of digging, sweating, swearing and giving it another try… a French couple with children in a car stopped. The husband, Laurent, help dig for a while, but we could see this was going to be a long story and we sent them on their way to enjoy their game drive.
Seeing that you are in wild country, I’m always on the lookout… you never know what walks out of the bush. Stefaan continued digging and true as bob… I see a movement from the corner of my eye: two elephants walk out of the bush, not 10 meters away from where Stefaan is digging. I got in a panic and urged Stefaan to get into the truck… NOW! Luckily Elephants are fairly peaceful, so they weren’t too bothered about this truck stick in the mud and walked straight past… much to my relief! Stefaan went back to digging and 5 minutes later a few zebra appeared from the bush. Neither Stefaan or the zebra were bothered with each other!
By that time Stefaan had enough of the digging, shoved the sand/mud tracks under the back wheels, sorted out the winch and after a bit more huffing and puffing from Trokkie, eventually pulled us out of the mud!
That night in camp, we shared a bottle of wine to say thank you to our French family.
And when we retired to our own camping spot, we had a nice braai and stared out over the Delta surrounded by the fairy lights of the fire flies flitting between the grasses.
Our last day, we packed up and left for another drive in the park.
We had worked out a timeline to enjoy every minute, but make the gate in time before closure. But then, the worst happened! As Stefaan made quite a tight turn through a bushy section that had many burnt-down trees and stumps, we must have hit a sharp stump and it cut the sidewall of our soft tyres. As we drove a bit further I heard a “pshhhh” noise every so often and asked Stefaan to stop the truck so I could get out and have a look. Yeah… a flat!
Since having seen the team of 8 men in Khorixas change our two back tyres, I’ve always hoped we would never, ever have to change a tyre when it’s just the two of us. Unfortunately, nature had other thoughts about that!
Again, Stefaan had to do all the hard work: trying to get the wheel off and out of deep, soft sand and then trying to line up bolts and holes of the rim of the spare in the same soft and deep sand. I was only allowed to videotape for posterity and you tube!
Much to my pleasant surprise, he got it right to change the tyre within two hours (on his own almost as fast as the team of 8 in Khorixas) and without any unwelcome visitors of the animal kind hindering the process!
We got back into Trokkie, on the track and made the gate well in time!
We pulled off the road somewhere to sleep and continued to Maun the following morning. We had coffee at a funky road house just outside Maun and met Sandy and had a nice chat about expedition vehicles, Botswana and safaris!
Seeing that entry fees into parks in Botswana would cost us R2000 per day, we had decided that our three days in Xakanaxa would be our only park visit in Botswana! But we were in the Delta and although we had done the boat trip on the river in camp, we decided to spoil ourselves wit a scenic flight over the Delta! So we headed back to Maun to book and fly!
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