We woke to a beautiful morning in Maun, the sun was beginning to rise and its orange/red colours reflected in the swollen Thamalekane River. The sky was clear and there was a slit chill in the air.
All in all, a fine day and what made it more special was that we were finally going to get to Moremi. A year of waiting for this day, had finally come.
Tswinkie and Dinah who had lost their trailer the night before and had slept in one of the hotel rooms, joined us whilst we packed-up our camp. They were as enthusiastic as ever about the trip, even though they were minus a tent and some other equipment.
The time had come, all vehicles were ready to go.
Our first 2 nights were going to be at Khwai Camp right on the Northern boundary of the reserve, on the banks of the Khwai River. The tourism book we have describes the area as “wide open spaces of flood plains that attracts plenty of game especially during the dry season”. This was the dry season, so what better could we ask for.
It was not long before we reached the last vet gate which is on the buffalo fence. Here marked the boundary of wild animals and domestic ones with the fence stopping the spread of diseases from buffalo, to the major beef industry of Botswana.
We were told in no uncertain terms that we could take meat and veg in, but if we tried to take it out, it would be confiscated.
A kilometer down the road from the gate was a fork – the left road was marked to Moremi and the right road Savuti. So of course I went left. It was less than a 100m down the road that I remembered, from seeing our map earlier, that I should have taken the Savuti road and turned much later to the Moremi north gate.
What the hell, there was a road inside the park that we could take. So instead of admitting to everybody that I had taken the wrong route I just went on. In fact I am sure that only now that they are reading this, do they know I took the wrong road.
After seeing a bit of game, such as giraffe and kudu we got to Moremi SOUTH gate. Here we bought a dedicated Moremi National Park map, which I studied in detail before we headed out. We needed to take the first road to the right.
That led us directly into a camping area, which was not on the map. This was my second blubs and one I couldn’t get away with as we came to a dead-end and we had all turn around.
The second road to the right, was actually marked Khwai and that was the one to take.
The temperature was rising and we traveled through baron mopane veldt, so game viewing was not great, but we were treated by the sighting of the very rare Roan Antelope.
The bush started opening up when we reached the Khwai flood plains and game viewing improved. We saw a number of groups of elephants, which were exceptionally relaxed around us. These were the calmest elephants that we have ever come across in Botswana.
Especially the two bulls that were having a sleep, just 10m off the road. They hardly blinked an eye-lid at our passing three vehicles.
We checked in at Khwai Camp reception and were told very sternly about being careful of lions and hyenas coming into camp and that we should drive to the ablutions, rather than walk. This was not what the nervous people in our group needed to hear.
Exactly what I wanted to hear, as I was going to ask for my money back if we didn’t have a lion walking through camp. After all, I also wanted to tell everybody that it had also happened to us.
We got directions to our campsite and off we went with me in the lead.
Finally I had to ask a game drive vehicle where our camp was and I was told that we had gone far to far, so we all had to turn and head back. My third mistake of the day – it hadn’t been a great morning for me with directions.
Part 4 to follow soon…..