Thursday, July 12, 2012

       or from Kasane to Maun via the Nata Pans.

As we left Kasane we decided that we would try to follow an old cattle trail across country to try our skills at off-roading. We were spared the test because the open range has now been fenced and we found ourselves driving along fence lines that just bought us back to the tarred road. A bit disappointing really.

Because of a lack of water in the pan our visit to look at birds on the Nata Pans was a bit of a non-event as well, although we did have a nice evening sunset on the edge of the pan with a South African family. It is certainly on our list of things to do another day as we could see the potential for several lovely days of bird-watching when there was water in the pan.

So to Maun, gateway to the Okavango Delta. After a day or two looking around, getting the truck serviced and changing the tyres we found a trip into the delta advertised at one of the back-packer places on the outskirts of town. The outline was that we would go up into the delta on a fast boat, spend two nights camping on one of the islands and go on a number of trips from that base. When we signed up there was one other couple. When we returned on the Monday morning to size of the group had grown to 4 couples. As it turned out a very well matched group and we all got along very well. The trip itself was a great success, although the camping was basic in that it was in tents on a mattress on the ground. The food was brilliant and only the toilet arrangements were questionable although there was a proper toilet seat! At night we could hear the hippos wandering around munching the grass on our little island. Slightly worrying to start with but we were so tired that we just forgot about them and went off to sleep. Our guide took us for a walk on another island on the 2nd morning and introduced us to the tracks and scats of some African wildlife. We now know how to identify the territory of a male rhino, which will be invaluable to us once we return to Wiltshire! Another highlight of the trip was the close encounters with elephants. Most of these were right on the side of the rivers grazing on the roots of the reeds. The locals seem very relaxed about what we see as the devastation that these animals cause to the local fauna. Many of the reed beds appear destroyed and almost everywhere that you look there are dead and dying trees showing clear signs of elephant damage. However, they eat the fruit of lots of trees and transport them around the countryside and deposit them, along with a large heap of fertilizer for the next generation of forest. So they are not all bad! Lovely to watch as well.
Also on the list of wildlife were 2 antelope new to us; the red lechwe and the tsessebe. Unfortunately, these are very shy animals and we were not able to get very close. [photos turned out to be a bit blurred] We went on a couple of walks through the bush, listening to birds and tracking animals both by footprints and dung!! We saw some great birds too.

Our evenings were spent chatting over a drink or 2, our companions were very easy to talk to and had lots of great experiences to share. We had a few ideas on the travel front to contribute too!!

On our way back to civilisation we stopped in a small village to go on a mokoro [a dug-out canoe]trip, we climbed into the mokoro and a local man stood in the back and “pushed” us along using a long pole. It was so peaceful and quiet that we almost went to sleep! Each poler carved his own mokoro when he became an adult…about 20,and hoped to use it for the rest of his life! We were also persuaded to go and look at some straw baskets that the women had woven. This turned out to be an embarrassing experience as none of us really wanted to buy anything and the locals were clearly fed up with us….maybe we were not the first to react the same way.

Our return to Maun was tinged with some sadness as we had to say goodbye to our new friends. They all came to see just where we live and we swapped e-mail addresses and swore eternal friendship…it has been done before!!! There is a good chance that we shall see some of them again..but who knows?

Our time since then has been spent watching Andy Murray {so near and yet so far} having a new solar panel fitted and also a ladder onto the top of our roof so we don’t fall off half way up! We are not sure where to next….watch this space! All still good and having great fun!

1 comment:

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