too close for comfort
20.07.2009 26 °C
NOW WITH PHOTOS!!!
On our last night in Planet Baobab we met 2 cool Saffa's (South Africans)who were returning from a fishing trip in the Okavango. Both were very experienced in the bush.. one was a Kruger game ranger.. they were very envious of our trip and very much encouraged us to avoid pricey campsites and rather wildcamp.. especially along the 300km of very wild road between between us and Vic Falls.
So off we went with new enthusiasm and courage to face the African bush!
We had a very successful ride from Planet Baobab to Nata.. we only had 2 short breaks:
one break for breakfast
and one break to check out this horiffic Baobab!
We arrived in Nata at 1.15 for lunch and to do a blog update having covered 97km.
20km out of Nata we stopped again to set up our camp. Within seconds off the road there was fresh evidence of elephants.. we ummed and ahhed but decided this was likely to be the same anywhere so went ahead and set up camp.
Pol collected firewood veraciously and we soon had enough to keep our campfire going for a week... (as she pointed out – one of the advantages of camping in elephant territory is that there is no shortage of firewood!)
The most satisfying shower i've ever had!
Emerging from the bush!
S0 in a very positive frame of mind we headed off in high spirits.. the plan was to cycle 40km to a the only lodge on the 300km road for breakfast and then continue deep into the bush for 2 more nights of wildcamping. Polly even said it would be nice to run into some elephants to round off the experience!
Polly's wish was soon granted. Cycling fast with a good tailwind, Polly infront, me 10m behind - I saw the elephant... CLOSE.... standing beside the road ears flapping... I wasn't quite sure what to do (didn't want to shout and aggravate the animal) I managed to say “Pol, Pol, Pol” which made her look up and spot the animal less than 20m ahead of her.
I'm not sure how she did it but in a blink of an eye she had stopped, turned her fully laden bike 180 and was about 100m away!
That ele was soon joined by a friend and they would not move away from the road..
eventually they did move about 50m off the road and we snuck past in the shadow of a passing lorry..
On we trundlled slower and keeping a close eye on the bush.. the road narrowed and the bush became thick, directly abutting the road.
I was in the lead when I heard Pol exclaim “ELEPHANT!” I looked into the bush and there he was – a huge tusker 2-3m off the road 15-20m ahead. I screeched to a halt which startled him and he careered off into the bush. I swung the bike round and started pedalling when Pol screamed.. “Quick Rob, he's coming for you!” I looked over my shoulder and there he was.. coming back onto the road, full speed, tail bolt upright and looking pissed off! We pedalled fast and he didn't pursue us far.
We decided to hitch the last 12km to our breakfast stop!
Standing by the road waiting for a lift every rustle of leaves and movement out the corner of our eyes seemed like another ele. Waiting for what seemed like an eternity no cars passed.. we prayed that God would send us a lift soon and sure enough within a minute an empty school bus driven by a Christain school principle turned up and in we hopped.
From the school bus we saw that the ele we ran into was on the edge of a big family group with small babies, either side of the road. We definitely made the right decision to hitch!
Elephant sands rapidly turned form our breakfast stop to a full day chill out and regroup. We hitched a ride with 2 Amercan photographers – Justin and Buddy for the remainder of 'Elephant Country' to a nice safe campsite in Kasane – 85km from vic Falls.
Our kit in the back of Buddy's bakkie.
Having traversed the part of Africa with the highest density of elephants outside a protected area I think we can relax and enjoy some Game viewing in the spectacular Chobe National Park. Next stop Vic Falls!