Friday, October 30, 2009

Driving From Chobe NP to Moremi Game Reserve

After Savuti in Chobe NP our next destination was North Gate of the Moremi Game Reserve, which abuts the Okavango Delta. It was an interesting trip. From Savuti we proceeded approximately 70K south to the Mababe Gate of Chobe NP. This was a generally uneventful plowing through deep sand. We saw many many fresh elephant tracks, but no elephants. About 20K from the gate the Land Rover stalled without reason, but started right up again. A few km later it stalled again, but started again no problem. We continued through the gate and the track proceeded up and over a sand ridge, which was very tough going, especially since the vehicle began to stall more frequently. This was making me quite nervous, as we were in quite a remote area, and not where I would choose to have mechanical problems. Eventually we made it over the sand ridge, and came upon a waterhole with several large elephants, two of which were fighting a bit in the water. The track then dropped down into the Khwai river valley, which is the easternmost edge of the Okavango Delta. Quite suddenly the scenery was lush and green. The river was flowing, filled with green reeds and grasses, water lilies blooming and elephants standing all over the place. It was stunningly beautiful, and I wish we had spent more time there - but I was quite eager to keep moving while the vehicle was still running, so we continued on. The water in the delta had been extremely high this year, the highest in about 40 years. Because of the high water we were forced to take many detours from the track that the GPS was trying to take us on. Eventually we got to a sign that said "North Gate 14 km" and pointed directly into the water. Not having driven this vehicle through water, and not haveing any other vehicles around to help, we decided to follow the track farther and see if there was a better way to go. A few minutes later we were turning back from yet another water crossing when a large truck came up behind us, and also turned around. We asked them if they were going to North Gate, they said no but they would show us where to cross. We proceeded a bit up the track, and they pointed to a water crossing. They then got out of their truck and waded in to find the shallowest part, and directed me to start across. I did get a bit concerned when the water started coming up over the hood, but it came no further and we made it through with just a bit of water coming in under the bottom of the doors. We happily shook hands with the fellows and gave them 100 Pula (about $15) for their trouble. (Thankfully by this time the land rover had stopped stalling, so hopefully that problem is behind us.) From there we followed what we thought was the main track and found our way to the Khwai village, which is across the river from the park gate. Here we found a massive road projet underway, which made navigation confusing once again, but we found a way through without incident, proceeded across the rickety wooded bridge, entered the park and drove to the campsite. More than enough adventure for one day, thanks very much!

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