12-18-2012, 01:30 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Southern Africa
Moremi to Kokonje
The Green House has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, fridge, fireplace outside, etc. etc. Itís like a home from home. After a great supper around the fire we go to bed early, as the departure for Moremi is at 05H30 the next morning.
The canvas curtains around the Land Cruiser's seats get closed before we leave, but the wind still takes its toll and despite our initial rejection, the blankets get pulled out one by one. From the end of the tar the corrugations rock us around until we pull up at South Gate an hour later.
The roads in Moremi are sandy two-tracks winding through a mopane forest.
The forest looks stunted once we have covered some distance from the gate - the trees are no more than 3 metres high as far as the eye can see. The cause of this phenomenon is the overpopulation of elephants- according to Simon there are three times more of them than the country (Botswana) can support; something has got to give.
Giraffe bow and scrape as we pass.
Simon is in his element and chats away as we head deeper into the park and stop for breakfast.
He has a theory about baobabs and elephants, believing that the animals are aware of the medicinal properties of this aloe-like plantÖ.
Ö..while ignoring the danger of the huge kigelia Africana pods dangling overhead.
Although we fail to spot any predators, their prey abounds. In the bush,
in the marsh as we approach the water,
and obviously, below the water.
Third bridge is the furthest point from South Gate. There is a rest camp with ablutions where we get a chance to stretch our legs before setting off for the pans and the return leg.
Some oxpeckers hitching a ride see us off.
Itís dark by the time we return to our Green House and everyone turns in early- itís been a long day!
We slowly pack up the next morning, and after scraping the cash together to pay our bill we say our goodbyes.
Thereís a great coffee bar at Motsana, as well as a few curio shops and a dance floor. We indulge.
After refuelling in town we exit Maun and hit the road to Gweta.
Halfway there we pass two motorbikes alongside the road: itís Marko & Sylvie again!
We stop to compare notes (and bikes). They go for the pannier look.
I want to pass by Baynes Baobabs, 30 km from A3 road, but it is inside the Nxai Pans reserve and again, no bikes allowed. So itís Planet Baobab outside Gweta for us instead, where we are welcome.
Thereís an open restaurant and well-stocked bar where we get something cold to drink.
Old news photos and Drum magazine covers line the edge of the roof; in our corner are a few featuring a very young Winnie Mandela!
We refuel and restock at Nata without much ado and I try to up the pace a bit to try to get to our destination for the day before nightfall.
At Dukwi we turn west off the main road Ö
Ö to Sua Pan, and Kokonje Island.
It's mainly two-track stuff, with sandy washes every now and then.
A momentary lapse of concentration through a dry riverbed results in the first crash of our trip. I should have paid more attention to this.
As the light fades we still have 20 km to go, but this is not the time to discuss the distance to go. ďAmper daarĒ is the best answer.
We reach Kwadiba gate at last, and fortunatey it is still open. We sign the register and head straight for the pans. Under our wheels, the soil imperceptably turns to salt.
The tracks start to criss-cross all over the place as we approach the island and begin searching for a suitable camping spot. We eventually locate a short gravelly track into the grass around the edge of the island, pitch our tents and prepare our last supper under the stars.
By now we are down to our last packed rations. Itís a bag of "instant" fish pie and it looks as appetising as it sounds; everyone claims they aren't hungry, but the cold beer from Nata makes it palatable.