A disturbed night. A Defender from Zimbabwe pulled into the camp at around 9pm and it took them an age to set up camp and settle for the night. There were two other families with very young children, one of which woke around 2.30am and the parents paid it no mind.
Packed, showered and away by 10am, our destination is a camp in Chobe National Park. We don’t have a reservation and it’s the silly season.
We have no idea how far we are going to get, or the condition of the road/track. The sat-nav took us back to the border we crossed yesterday but a sharp left, just before. For around 20ks the road was sealed. Passing open grass lands at the bottom of an elevated escarpment, there were a magnitude of animal signs but most of them were from cows grazing close to the water 1k away.
The sealed road ended abruptly and here are some of the signs warning those who choose to proceed, to be aware and able. At that point Savuti was 71 k’s away and we guessed we would be there by about 2pm. As advised on the notice, we let our tyres down to 21psi in the front and 28psi in the back.
For the next 70k’s we fought the road. Deep deep sand meaning at best we could get along at about 30kph in 3rd but sometimes down to 2nd. At one pint when the track crossed another road, and the sand was extra deep, we had to use the Sand Tracks to get across. 5 k’s down the road and we come to a Toyota Urban cruiser stuck deep to near the top of it’s tyres. A Dutch couple from Amsterdam had amazingly got to this point. We could not go past them or leave them there, so spent the next hour winching them out and they were stuck so fast that it was pulling Poki forward until we put our Sand Tracks under their wheels and gradually pulled them out of the hole.
The only option was for us to pull up onto a bank and allow them to proceed. However, in trying to pass us, the driver turned the wheel the wrong way and his rear panel came in contact with Poki, making a nice score along the side of his rental vehicle, before stopping him. Meanwhile after getting them under way again it was a devil of a job to get ourselves unstuck.
There was another vehicle parked up the track a bit and behind them. I had not realised that they were all trying to help the Dutch! The guy was exhausted and was squatting on his haunches. The vehicle the Dutch were driving was not suited to this type of extreme conditions. Allwheel drive but not the right tyres, clearance or pressure. Nor was the driver experienced.
At around 2.30pm we pulled up onto a bank off the track and made lunch under a huge tree. I was exhausted. It was 40deg inside Poki. You could not touch the aluminium mudguard tops or get burned badly. One forgets one’s in his 80th year and tend to think you can go like a robot.
With food and plenty of water we were both soon back to normal. The fitness we had built up in Durban, playing tennis and doing sit-up’s and squat’s, has been lost when only driving and sitting. Poor Jen, wanting to help, and me being a terrible communicator, taking on full responsibility for everyone. She did a great job shuffling the Sand Tracks between vehicles and repositioning them. The winch, again proved very useful but being electric, it takes time to cool down before being able to rewind the rope.
With such need for action no thought was given to taking pictures. Though I think the Gopro was going.
At the Park Entry gate the grumpy attendant, after charging us NZ$160 to enter, said the road from there on was better, as it had been graded. What a load of tosh. It had never been graded and for the next 36k’s we kept doing more of the same. 30kph in 3rd, hi range.
Entering the “settlement “ of Savuti a new Grenadier stopped beside us. The first one we have seen being driven by private owners. Amazingly it was a young family of Mum & Dad and two children. They are from Jo’burg. He is a Pom, been in SA for 20 years, and his wife, a Kiwi!!! It was wonderful to feel the Kiwi vibe again and we had a good old chat before proceeding to our Gold Plated Campsite and them to join their friends.
At half price, NZ60!!!, because they did not have a spare one.
It’s 6.30pm and the sun has dipped below the horizon. Darkness will be on us in minutes. The screen is getting brighter by the second.
What a day it’s been. There is still 171k’s to the next town and fuel. We have half a tank of diesel and it should be enough, but hard to know in such challenging conditions. The extra 2 jerry cans could very well come in handy.
Just as well he has a spare..:)
On the drive we have seen several Elephant, numerous Antelopes and Giraffe. Not a lot else.
Jen is hoping she will hear a lion roar beside Poki during the night.