A Travellerspoint blog

Chobe National park to Livingstone

4 countries in 1 day!

sunny 22 °C

Chobe NP is a spectacular park around the Chobe and Zambezi rivers.. the locals extremely friendly (as usual).

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This little guy gave us a delicious bream straight from the Zambezi.

The bird and animal life was astounding

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Giant King Fisher

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Fish Eagles

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all sorts of other birds enjoying sunset after a day's fishing!

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Hungry Crocs

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Sleepy Crocs

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a few giraffes

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and tonnes of elephants

We nipped across the river to a little island called Pole Pole in Namibia. The sum total of the amenities were a toilet and a bar. Total inhabitants were 5 people including us and were were privileged to be the first people this year to camp on the island.. partly because it was about 4ft under water a few months ago and partly because it isn't a campsite!

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Pol on Pole Pole in hammock

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Watching the locals Fish

The following day was to be our day of 4 countries.

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We started the day in Namibia on Pole Pole.

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Returned to Botswana

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Put a foot into Zimbabwe.. and then discovered that it was 55US$ each for the visa.

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So we returned to Botswana

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However we didn't miss the opportunity to make a few dollars before heading to a Backpackers in Livingstone.

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No elephants on this road but we did spot a couple of Giraffes peering at us through the bush!
And tomorrow we are off to the falls..

Posted by robandpol 08:02 Archived in Zambia Tagged bicycle Comments (7)

Elephant Encounters

too close for comfort

sunny 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:

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one break for breakfast

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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!)

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The most satisfying shower i've ever had!

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Wildcamping

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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..

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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!

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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.

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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!

Posted by robandpol 18:28 Archived in Botswana Tagged bicycle Comments (4)

Bombing along in Botswana

Land of enormous elephants and bulbous Baobabs

sunny 25 °C

Crossing the border into Botswana was an interesting affair. After negotiating the 30km of sandy track we were the 4th people at the border post which was a good thing as it took the border guy at least 40 mins to process us!

The Limpopo river forms the border between the 2 countries and we were suprised to find no bridge over it!

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Luckily it hasn't rained for a month so shoes came off and we headed across - keeping a close look out for cros and potholes... Unfortunatley Rob saw a deep pothole too late, fell off the bike and almost lost the contents of his bar box!! Lucky our bags are waterproof!

On the Botswana side there was immediately evidence of elephants close by. We had been told that Botswana has a serious elephant problem with 130,000 too many. A huge cull had been organised but the "greenies" have paid the government E25 000 000 Euros not to shoot them. The eles are running riot and Botswana is rapidly turning from savannah to dessert.

We found our way to the campsite and it looked as if there had been a war in it - broken trees everywhere and very fresh ele prints..... then we saw them.

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and made a hasty retreat!

We were shown to an alternative campsite (the active one) which did look elephant free and Rob was given a fishing rod to try and catch dinner.... so all was well.

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However as soon as darkness came so did the elephants!

We had a very restless night stoking the camp fire every 2 hrs and listening to trumpeting elephants breaking trees on three sides of the tent!

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Polly very happy by our precious fire after having survived the night!

The rest of Botswana has been flat flat flat, hot in the day and cold at night. Villages are scarce and campsites even scarcer.

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Magnificent Baobabs break the monotony of the long straight roads.

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Next stop is Vic Falls but to get there we have to traverse 300km of bad road with abundant elephants, occasional lion and no campsites...... watch our blog in about 5 days to see how it went....!

Posted by robandpol 05:17 Archived in Botswana Tagged bicycle Comments (6)

Week 3 30/06 - 06/07

Diphuti (1st stop in Limpopo) - Alldays (Last stop in Limpopo, AND South Africa)

Highlights

Transversed Limpopo
First 90+km day (97km Diphuti - Tzaneen)
Eating as much as we could in KFC after cycling 91km before lunch

Lowlights

Diarrhoea and vomiting as a result of KFC (Pol)
Being shown a selection of kitchen knives in an outdoor shop when I asked for the chat on the knives (Pol) (pol subsequently bought the biggest baddest knife you have ever seen!)

Things we like

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KFC

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Downhill lorry signs

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The Yellow line (stops lorries hittting you)

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Creative furniture

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Friendly logging lorries up steep hills

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Artistic fruit vendors

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Limpopo's flat roads

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The Dedicotes

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Limpopo's luscious Citrus fruits

Things we don't like

Cycle short tan lines

Limpopo drivers who think honking at cyclists substitutes avoiding them

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KFC

Uphill lorry signs

The cat who ate almost all our bacon when we weren't looking in Diphuti

Hope you've all had a good week.

Posted by robandpol 03:42 Comments (8)

Alldays and the Guinea Fowl Hunt

Guns, speed and kiling stuff

sunny 17 °C

A strange twist of fate has led us to a little town called Alldays.

We ended up here because Polly has been unwell for almost a week from a dodgy KFC so we've been taking it easy.. having short cycling days or rest days.. since in the last 6 days we've only covered about 160km.
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This is proper 'frontier Afrikaner country'. The land is flat, dry and scrubby with cattle herds, impala, warthogs, blessbock, orix, jackals and lots of guinea fowl.

On the road to Alldays Polly was feeling rough and we were having a rest in the long grass. A very friendly man, wearing snazzy pink specks, stopped to see if we were OK. We told him we were fine but needed a place to stay in Alldays.. You should stay in Cosa-Nostra its my place! 'Great' We thought and promptly forgot the name.

An hour later we arrived in Alldays.. a dusty little town with a couple of nice little cafes.. we asked the guy in the cafe if he knew of anywhere that would allow us to pitch our tent.. he called his nephew.. who said we could pitch it for free at his place.. we happily headed off to the nice nephew's place and when we got there the receptionist (who we found in the bar) said that the boss called and we must stay in one of the rooms for free!

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It was a nice little place.. Straw roofed buildings set in lush tropical gardens with a nice swimming pool. The only slightly disconcerting thing were the dozens of skulls, antlers, pelvises and a giraffe neck hanging from one of the trees! But we figured it was a hunting lodge and that's how you decorate hunting lodges.

Later that evening we met the boss (Derk) – sure enough the same guy who had come across us on the road.. Pol was still not well so went to bed while I joined the hunters in the bar.. Derk was such a nice guy – very generous and always ordering new drinks when mine was half full. He tried to convince me that he was nothing special.. just grew up here and built this lodge.. however I knew there was something more.. and at about midnight it all came out – he organised safaris for rich people, had introduced Dodi to Lady Di, Elton John was a good friend and Pavarotti and
koffi Annan had sat on my bar stool! And tomorrow I was to go on a safari hunt too!

The next day I headed off with Kok (Dirk's tracker) Dirk's 270 rifle and 2 bullets (that's all we could find!).

So a few hours later and no shots fired Dirk turned up –
“Tuesday night is Guinea fowl night and you must come too!”
“So how do you shoot the guinea fowl?” I asked.
“We drive around in the bakkie and start world war III!”
“Are there many guinea fowl?”
“you'll see more than 1000!”

So the beers, semi automatic shotgun, 200 bullets, the rifle, the tracker – Kok and the mates – Pete and Bours, were loaded in the bakkie and off we went.

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I've never seen anything like it..Alcohol, testosterone, speed, a semi automatic shotgun and killing stuff was an extremely potent combination. We would take turns with the shotgun, standing up front – burning across the fields at breakneck speeds in the hunt of flocks of Guinea fowl. When one was spotted we would go even faster and when in range the shooting would start as the panicked birds scattered in all directions.

And then we saw 'the pig'... resting the rifle on pete's shoulder - I could just make it out through the bushes.. KABOOM – wow that rifle was powerful and the pig bolted.. so did Kok brandishing a kitchen knife. 2 minutes later Kok emerged from the scrub carrying the warthog that was almost as big as him... and pete exclaimed - “you shot a f**** pig, you shot a f**** pig!”

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Kok struggling back with 'the pig'

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Kok, Bours, Pete and Dirk.

So now we're a few days behind schedule, pol's on the mend and we're gonna have to do some hitch hiking to make up time and we are loving it!!

Posted by robandpol 12:29 Archived in South Africa Tagged bicycle Comments (3)

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