Sept 3rd ; Yesterday was spent running around like headless chickens trying to get all of the things done on the "To Do" list. I must say a very big THANK YOU for Frans at Nissan in Menlyn. He was amazing! He managed to hunt down and get in all of the spares we needed in a matter of hours!!
Well today is the day we had to leave South Africa and head off into the wilds of Africa again. Left Tim and Nicola in Pretoria early and made our way to the border. After a couple of stops for a few things we should have got yesterday we got to the border around 2pm. Nothing exciting to report about the broder crossing, very straight forward and easy. Tried to contact Patrick (we had arranged to visit him), only to find that we had no roaming on the mobile and the Sat phone was not charged - very good start!!!! Managed to make a plan and get to Patrick and Beth's house where we met the menagerie of dogs, cats, fish, horses, chickens, turkeys and ducks.
After the tour of the menageire we were treated to a very good homemade lasagne and a glass or 2 of red wine to wash it down.
Sept 4th ; Today we headed off to see what Gabarone was all about. It would appear not much!!!! A sprawling city which appears to be lad back and relaxed. Went for some lunch then went back to Patrik's to tend the menagerie.
Sept 5th ; Today was the day we had to repack the car....... wow it took all day for the 2 of us to first agree where things should go then for it to be packed!!! We did manage to reattach the trim after the Cameroon mud bath so it was not all shouts and screams!! All of this was done in 35 degrees which we are not used to anymore!!
Sept 6th ; Now that we had found all of the maps and guide books we had no excuse not to try and plan the next leg of the trip. Well that was most of the day gone, just left enough time to cook a roast chicken dinner for the returning menagerie owners.
Sept 7th ; Lazy day today. Got up very late (9am!) and tried to make brakfast during the "normal" sunday morning power cut. Went for a drive with Patrick, Beth and Liam to see the film set for "The Number 1 ladies Detective Agency" film that is currently being made - It is based on the very very good books by Alaxander Mcoll-Smith of the same name. It was strange to drive past and see all of the buildings I have read about in the books!! Found "The Number 1 Oprea House" tea room for a quiet cup of tea and slice o cake. Patrick took us out for dinner, Liam got a job as trainee pizza maker - he loved it!!
Sept 8th ; Last day with Patrick and Beth today. Another lazy day filled with the odd jobs which needed to be done (exciting things like sewing on buttons and patches to maintain modesty!!). Patrick L cooked everyone dinner, much to Patrick P's horror because he did not want Beth to see him cooking otherwise she would try and get him to cook too!
Sept 9th ; Up with the sun today to say our goodbyes and head off into deepest darkest africa. Took a nice slow drive up to the Makgadikkgadi pans via Serwoe and Letlhakane. The roads were very good for most of the way however our nice tar road abrupty turned into a corrigated gravel nightmare just outside of Latlhakane!! The gravel track was not fun but it soon turned into a lovely sandy piste road for the rest of the drive to the pans - we did have a panic when the track took a swift turn onto the edge of the pan and OMG we had to drive over the pan!!!! Would you believe it was a substantial improvement on the gravel road.
Stopped for the night at Kubu Island, it is an eerie island of life in an otherwise barren and desolate area. To add to the atmosphere the whole island is covered in Baobab trees growing out of the rocks at all sorts of bizarre angles.
Sept 10th ; Woke up to an amazing sunrise through the baobab trees. Patrick decided that today was the day he would cut his hair, so whilst I made us coffee Patrick got the clipper out and started to cut... OMG he did not put a size guard on the clippers so now the hair on my legs is now longer than Patrick's hair!!!! After recovering form the fact I am engaged to an escaped convict with patchy hair, we headed off into the pans again. The aim was to get to Gweta. It is only 160kms so shouldnt take too long..... well we were not expecting the very very fine soft grey powder that is called the road!!!!!!!! After driving at 20km/hour for 2 hours we get to a veterinary control gate, neither of us can see a gateman we took the track running parallel to the fence on the south of the gate. So off we go for 10kms to the next gate, which is very locked and Gerty the GPS is shouting that we should be going north (which is the other side of the gate!!), not good. Decided to listen to Gerty and turned around and headed back to the first gate where there are now 2 men standing waving us down shouting - "you went the wrong way"!!!!!!!!! Oh well, should have listened to Gerty the GPS.
The rest of the drive was slow going but uneventful. Stopped at Planet Baobab just east of Gweta for the night. Nice relaxed place with extreamly cold pool, so we HAD to suffer the pool for the rest of the afternoon.
Sept 11th ; I did not sleep too well last night and woke to a bald convict in the tent next to me - once I could focus I realised it was only "Patrick the Bald". Took our time packing up, asked Gerty the best way to get to Maun and we were off. It was a long straight road with nothing on it to keep the navagator awake - that was until Patrick the Bald starts to shout "get off of the road you stupid birds" which shock me out of my slumber quickly to see 2 ostriches ambling across the road infront of the car!! 2kms further on and more "stupid birds" meander into the road and stop with no intention of moving until we were right on top of them, only then did they saunter to the side of the road and look at us in utter disgust. Arrived in Maun and started to look for accomadation, decided on Okovango River Lodge, a more relaxed looking camping site on the rivers edge with a pool, bar and restaurant all overlooking the river. We opted not to cook tonight as the menu had a matured 500g T bone steak, chips and salad for P55 (£4.50)!!
After looking at the size of the t-bones coming out of the kitchen we decided to get the 300g rump instead, much better size and the left overs went to the patiently waiting dogs.
Not the best night on record - barking dogs, shouting families ( they were having "heated" discussion all through the night!), cows with cattle bells swimming in the river infront of the car, drunken singers at the bar...... and so on!!
Sept 12th ; Up with the sun and would you believe it was silence, complete and utter silence!!! Packed up and made for the road again off up to Gumba Lagoon. What an eventful trip it was!!! Started with the "normal" suicidal cows and donkeys running into the road infront of the car. Turned off of the nice smooth tar road towards Etsha6 onto a patchwork quilt masquerading as tar, we laughed thinking this is going to be an interesting road, ha ha if only we knew!
At a 4 way stop in the middle of town the patchwork ended abruptly to be replaced with heavy soft sand. Just like true pro's, we stopped and let the tyre pressures down, engaged 4 wheel drive and tried again. Nothing we did not move an inch!!
From nowhere like a swarm of locusts "millions" of children came from all directions to tell us how to drive in sand, and we would need them to push us.
Hah we thought, we are OK just let the tyres down a bit more and engage the diff lock, and we are off again only to stop 50m later in softer sand! Not good I'm now worried that we are never going to get out of the sand!
Patrick gets out again and a very sweet little girl comes up to the car, puts her head throught the open door and asks me what my name is, I tell her, she then says "Sarah you on the wrong road, the main road is over there" and she points to another sand track which looks just as soft about 100m to our left.
So into reverse and wow we are bombing it out of the soft sand and back into the village, found the correct track and finally headed off onto the delta.........
The next 3 hours are spent following a never ending maze of partial tracks though swap/marsh mud which turned to heavy soft sand and back with no real warning, making it the best driving we had done a very long time!!!
Just as Patrick and the car are starting to overheat we finally see the end of the soft sand and find the oasis that is Gumba Lagoon Camp - WOW this place is amazing.
A small campment on the edge of Gumba Lagoon on the Pan handle of Okavango Delta. Arrived very dirty and tired, showered, cooked dinner then sat and had a cold beer on the look out deck of the bar/dining area which over hangs the delta.
Sept 13th ; awoken at dawn by a chorus of hippos and the cry of Fish Eagles - the best way to wake up! Went and had free coffee and watched the sunrise from their deck. Reluctantly went and packed everything away with the view of getting into Namibia today. Took the easy route back to the tar road, it only took 20mins, it took longer to re-inflate the tyres when we got to the tar!!!!
Nice easy drive to the border, got through with no fuss and were off into Namibia.
Stopped at Ngepi Camp about 20kms from the border, one look and we decided to stay for 2 nights!! So after fart arsing around for 20 mins trying to get the tent in the "prime position" we set everything up and went for a wander around the camp.
They have got the most wonderful array of toilets and shower blocks - the one nearest to us is open completly on one side facing the river!
Had a few beers at the bar and went to bed with yet another hippo chorus.
See Naminia for the next few days travels..............