Think Chobe National Park and Savuti and you think ‘Big Cat Diaries’; stunning plains of sandy colored reeds and rocks harbouring safari animals. In truth it really is like this, if you stay in one of the safari lodges. Unfortunately, our extortionate campground was not. A strange, sparse ground resembling some kind of waste land on the outskirts of an industrial estate awaited us, encircling a concrete walled prison-like wash area, the camp site felt like it could have been a field somewhere behind the high street in Crawley. There were a few nice spots by the river but nothing special, considering the stunning landscape in which it is located, not to mention how much it cost for a night.
We made a decision to leave a day early and head to our next camp in Kesane. That night I knocked back some herbal concoction to help me nod off and it worked an absolute treat (Mufasa and Scar could both have been clambering all over the tent clawing their way in and I would have been none the wiser). We awoke early to find the vehicle surrounded with varying sized paw prints, slightly concerning, but it was fun trying to work out what animals they belonged to. So, later than our usual departure time, we set off. This was to be the last day of driving without roads. I was pretty pleased about that!
We headed off, again the only vehicle in view and went back through the lake, only this time we accidentally covered a group of military officers helping us through with a shower of muddy water – oops! As we continued, we passed a number of vehicles that had become stuck or stranded. One of these was getting a tow out of one of the water logged trenches as we pulled up. They asked if we had a tow rope so we produced our pathetic excuse for one, which resembled a tiny skipping rope! It appeared the couple had abandoned their car the night before after becoming stuck and phoning the recovery company to say they were going to sleep there but would need some assistance in the morning. They were outright told that that was too high a risk because of the lions, so were rescued then and were now on the return for their car.
One of the locals came over and informed us we had lost our license plate – excellent! He also appeared amused at the newly mud painted truck. Apparently we were driving too fast. On informing him of our lack of ability to get into low ratio he reached into the car fiddled with the gear and BOOM…it was in! Comically he showed Andy the instructions above the driver’s seat which clearly explained this. I couldn’t help but stifle a chuckle.
What a difference it made being able to get into proper 4wd – from now on we slowly glided through all of the flooded areas beautifully. It was a whole different experience and I almost thought it was a shame that we were soon destined to hit the concrete tracks again rather than having some more controlled fun off-roading.
After a few hours in convoy with our new friends, through really deep sand tracks, we eventually hit the metaled road back to Kasane. Even here the number of elephants along the road was incredible. Kasane is a cute little place with a really good vibe. There are some nice spots for food and drinks and we found The Old House along the way; a lovely decked restaurant/bar overlooking the river. It was a welcome break from the desolation of the last few days as well as a real treat to have some food prepared for us. We sat down to a few ciders and enjoyed soaking up the sun and good tunes while Nige got a thorough cleanse (poor carwash guy has never worked so hard I am sure and we made sure we tipped him for his hard work). We then ventured out of the town, past all of the HGVs waiting to cross to Zimbabwe, on the way to our new campsite for the next 3 nights – Senyate.