We left Maun heading east toward the Makgadigadi Pans. The drive today was only 270 kms, which is pretty short compared to the other days we have done. The GPS was predicting an arrival time of 2:30pm and I couldn’t understand why it would take us so long to do such a short distance. What I hadn’t factored in was that we were driving through to Pans and both are national parks and the speed limit was down to 80 km/h.
What was really funny is that they take the speed limit down to 80 because of the wildlife and we saw nothing in the National Parks area at all. However, before we entered the National Park we saw an elephant on the side of the road. It is the strangest thing to be driving 120 km/h and see an elephant standing there. The other thing about the 80 km/h limit is that you have a lot (and I really mean a lot) of other animals crossing the national roads all the time and they don’t take the speed limit down from 120 km/h for them. And while I am thinking of it, I don’t think I have ever seen so many donkeys in the rest of my life than I have over the last 4 days in Botswana. What do they do with the all the donkeys is what I wonder about?
We stopped at Gwede for a quick toilet break and lunch. As there is no fuel station and nothing else around we “borrowed” the toilets at one of the lodges. They didn’t seem to mind at all (fortunately) and after a quick lunch we headed on toward Nata where we refueled and then headed for Elephant Sands (where we are overnighting).
Elephant Sands is about 1.5 km off the main road and really does seem in the middle of nowhere. As we arrived we were amazed to see a herd of elephant in the middle of the camp. You can see why it is named as it is. I went to check in and the rest of the group just vanished and I found them all posing on the edge of the boma taking photos of themselves with the elephants within spitting distance.
The camp is quite incredible in that the chalets/tents and reception/boma surround a watering hole. The elephants come through constantly to drink and bathe and then move on. Since we arrived at just after 3pm until now (10pm) there have been multiple elephants in the waterhole. It is just non-stop action. You have to be careful where you are as the elephants exit between the chalets/tents on a regular basis. Getting to dinner this evening (we took the car) involved a little stand off with a group of elephants leaving the waterhole. It really is quite an incredible venue and the best view of elephants you could ever hope for. The birding was also incredible and we ticked off a number of species for the first time on the trip including some we aren’t meant to see in the area (Common or Indian Myna). We are now up to 74 bird species for the trip so far.
Dinner tonight was in the boma and included one of my favorite dishes – pap and sous (tomato and onion). It was as good as I could remember eating when I was growing up (for some reason my wife doesn’t know how to make it). There were also plenty of vegetables (what we all had been feeling like) and they let us BYO wine (for a small fee) which made the meal even better.
The only thing stopping us from a good nights sleep is the noise of the elephants bathing and drinking (and dare I say it … farting … sorry Mom).
Until tomorrow ….
P, H, C, M & S