It seems like I have been away for much longer than I have and my Africa adventure is still less than half way over. Last night, after writing the blog, I crawled onto my sleeping bag and immediately took out two hot water bags. The sky was lighted up with the most stars I had ever seen. I just laid on my back looking up and wondering about lots of things. I know how lucky I am to have experienced a place like the “Island of the Baobabs”. So few people have experienced this magical place and to be able to see the things I have seen.
I woke up at around six and immediately grabbed one of my cameras to shoot the sunrise through the Baobabs. I know that this will be the only time I will ever be in a place like this and wanted to capture as much as the beauty and serenity as possible. After shooting I needed my morning coffee and then had breakfast. The staff put together our long table and chairs and served us a nice hot breakfast under the Baobabs.
It was now time to board our quad cycles for the three hour ride through the Makgadikgadi Pans. I was looking forward to this final ride through the Pans. Just to feel like you are alone in one of the most desolate and remote places in the world is a real experience. We took off in a straight line and started the journey back. I got the quad cycle up to around 65 km and was buzzing as we went along. My back started to hurt and my right thumb, which is used to regulate the gas, started to get stiff and hurt. Let’s talk about backs for a minute. When I get up in the morning, I am quite stiff and need to loosen myself up through the day. When I camped out on slept on the ground, I did not wake up stiff and my body and joints felt great. Maybe I should just sleep on the floor at home and away. We stopped a few times to stretch and take some water. With the wind at our backs and driving into the sun, I felt as free as I had ever been. My mind was only focused on the ride and the remote beauty around us.
We finally arrived back at where we had picked up the quads two days ago. I knew that I had experienced something that very few people have ever done. To ride through the Makgadikgadi Pans on a quad cycle and then sleep for two nights under the stars amidst a forest of Baobabs. How many people could claim this experience?
There were two safari land cruisers waiting for us and off we went back to Camp Kalahari. I was so waiting for the royal throne and a hot shower. Our driver was very talkative and some other guides had seen a lion in the area, so he decided to investigate and try and spot him. I was almost busting at the seams when we finally arrived back at Camp Kalahari. A high speed three hour quad ride will shake up your insides. Lunch was served and warm towels were given too everyone to try and shake off some of the dust from the Pan.
We had free time until four. I immediately took care of business and then plugged all my gadgets, batteries, iPad, laptop etc into some plugs. This Camp does not have electrical plugs in each hut. There is a common area charge station where there are strips to plug in your devices. You should see the insanity of this situation. Imagine ten photographers needing everything charged all at once. Quite chaotic. Andy took charge of the insanity. The hot shower was so nice. I just stood under the water trying to wash off all the dust and grime of the drive. Your eyes become particularly watery as dust, dirt and grime constantly fly into them as you drive over the Pan.
At four we left to shoot the same family of meerkats from two days ago returning to their dens for the night. The scene was unbelievable as the meerkats rain back to their dens and prepared for the cold of the night. The meerkats were very playful and all thirteen of them took a one last sun bath before returning to their dens.
Andy had a surprise for us. Cobra, the head of the San people, met us at the meerkat den. We then took pictures of him and pictures of him as the sun set in the background. Cobra says he is sixty eight and he took some pictures with me. I wonder what stories he could tell. Did not speak any English, but still would have loved to hear them. One of our guides, Dabby, told us that he had seen Cobra crawl into an Aardvark hole or den for about thirty minutes. Cobra is over six feet tall. Dabby was starting to get worried when Cobra emerged with some pythons. Can you imagine?
We are leaving tomorrow for the Delta and a camp named “Sable Alley”. The Kalahari was truly memorable and I will always remember my time spent here. We fly by bush plane and then go to the Camp. Bush planes are great. You do not have to go through the craziness of airport activity. Your bags are taken for you, they are loaded into the plane, you pass through airport security and walk on the runway to the plane. Of course, no bathroom and stewardesses to serve you refreshments that you don’t need. You also fly quite low so you can really observe the ground under you. You fly over landscapes and wilderness. There are no cities, towns and villages that you can see. Of course, there is only one propeller engine. If that engine conks out, goodbye.
I have heard so much about the Okavango Delta and its beauty. Am looking forward spending five days amongst its beauty and wildlife.
Just as a reminder, we are still in Botswana and will be there until we fly to Victoria Falls.