Let me give you a quick background to our trip.
Last Monday night Sue decided to take a couple of days leave so we could go away for her birthday. Leaving Thursday and coming home on Sunday. So I had Tuesday and Wednesday to sort out a trip and I obviously wanted it to be great for her as it was a major birthday for Sue (30th 🙂 ).
Our newly acquired 4×4 trailer was in for re-painting and a friend wanted to re-enforce our tow-bar to accommodate the heavier trailer. Thinking that this might not all be done in time I started to look at various lodges we could go to and skip the camping this time. The prices were not really for our budget – so camping it was going to be.
Tuesday had gone which left me Wednesday to get this trip together. I went to the painters and they told me I could have the trailer by 4. I went to visit our friend in connection with the tow-bar. He was still asleep, but soon awake when I told him his plans for the morning had changed.
So without a car to go buy food and drinks, or a trailer to pack, I set about getting everything together that we would need and I booked a camp site. The plan was coming together. Once I got the car and trailer back I had a mad rush to get the shopping done, roof top tent back up, the awning mounted and the trailer packed.
The last time we had done a major trip I gave myself a week to prepare, now I had done it in a day.
Thursday morning we were on our way to Nxai Pan National Park. The big obstacle for us living in Letlhakane is that Nxai Pan is on the other side of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans from us. We would either have to drive west or east around them for miles and miles or drive through them. I was in the mood for an adventure, so we were going to go through.
We turned off the tar at Orapa about 40km from home and followed the vet fence north. The road was good and everything was going well, all we had to do was to get to the correct gate we needed to get through the fence. Tristan had put the co-ordinates of the gate into our GPS and we found we didn’t have much further to go.
Arriving at the gate we found unfortunately, it wasn’t the right one – we had to go on to the next one. Was this a sign of things to come.
We followed the vet fence until we came across what appeared to be a dry river and we assumed that this is where the Boteti River used to empty its water into the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Even though no water was flowing, there were muddy patches probably still from the good rains we had this year.
Since leaving the tar some hour and a half ago we had only seen one car, which was on the side of the road and was missing a wheel. If we were to get stuck in the mud help was not going to come soon.
We back tracked for about a kilometer and found another track which led to a far better crossing point. Shortly after the river there was a track heading back to the vet fence, but the one we were on looked in good condition and it was going in the right direction.
Ground squirrels were all over the place and every now and again we passed a cattle post. It must have been about 20km from the river crossing that our road went straight into a cattle post and stopped just short of a muddy pan on the other side of it.
About 5 km back there was a big open area and through my binoculars I could see the vet fence about 1 km off and we knew there was a road there that would definitely get us to where we wanted to go. There had been no tracks off in that direction and heading straight across, we could fall into squirrel holes, there could be muddy patches or who knows.
I made the decision that we would risk it, after all I was in for an adventure. To make it safer I “suggested” Sue and Tristan walked in front of the car and lead me through. What a way to spend your birthday.
Their walking lasted all of 10m – the grass was very sharp and hard, making walking very unpleasant. So with Tristan with his head through our sun roof we crept across the grassland. We were very relieved when we got to the fence without incident.
We finally arrived at the gate, there was nobody in sight – these gates are generally manned. Tristan managed to get the gate open and we were through.
The track we were on was heading straight for the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and there was no evidence of old car tracks on it at all. We were heading out onto the pans all alone. This was an adventure.
Part 2 coming soon.