A Travellerspoint blog

Botswana

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)

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