Moremi National Park: 3rd Bridge

What a day we were going to have.

We were heading from Khwai Camp in the northern part of Moremi down, through the reserve, to 3rd Bridge camp which is roughly in the center of the park, where we were going to stay for the next two nights.

DSC_0111With baboons already moving into camp we were only to happy to be vacating it.

Even after my previous mistakes with directions I was given the lead again. I kept checking my mirrors making sure Tswinkie was behind me. We got to a point where the road took a circle around a waterhole, I could see Tswinkie but not Gavin – so we stopped so he could catch-up.

The thought that Jean was just taking pictures of the giraffes we had passed were dispelled after about 10 minutes, when they didn’t arrive. So Tswinkie without a trailer turned around and headed back.

A vehicle that was traveling in the same direction as us, mentioned that the Jeep had been stuck and he had helped pull it out. They were just deflating tyres and should be with us soon. Great friends we had been.

DSC_0141I was now the only one not having been stuck, but it was to early to gloat. I just kept my mouth closed – we still had a long way to go and quite a few more challenges ahead.

We drove wooded areas with massive trees and lots of elephants and giraffe before the road turned and headed through Mopane veldt for miles an miles. We did manage to see a few kudu and the back two cars saw buffalo, I just drove straight passed them.

DSC_0120All of a sudden we started seeing a lot of elephant and soon we found out why – there was water and lots of it. This was Xuku Pools, which was basically an oasis in the middle of the Mopane veldt.

Traveling down a thin, very sandy road, we came upon a T-junction which I had not expected. I had to stop to look at the map, knowing all to well that getting going again and having to turn right or left immediately in this thick sand was not going to be easy.

Once I sorted out the direction, I knew I had to move. I was very worried that this was my turn for getting stuck. My wheels battled to get traction and trying to turn over a ridge of sand was proofing a major challenge. I could feel the car battling and the wheels beginning to dig in.

In my rear view mirrors I could see cameras coming out and both Gavin and Tswinkie calling out for me to get stuck.

Before our wheels dug in totally, I reversed a short distance, put the car into 1st, put foot and we were moving forwards slowly and sometimes sliding side ways. Our trailer was doing its own thing behind as well, going in any direction it felt it should be. I finally manged to get all 6 wheels in the tracks they should be and our amazing car pulled us through.

With great disappointment Gavin and Tswinkie followed.

The next hurdle we faced was 4th bridge. This was a stunning area with plenty of water, big trees and massive expanses of open areas. Sue took a look at the bridge, which was about 20/30 meters long, made from wooden poles that had been secured together.

DSC_0134“Please tell me we don’t have to go over that” she asked.

As I answered to the affirmative I went straight onto the bridge and started crossing it, so not giving her anytime to think about it. We got over it with no problem.

A car was waiting for us to cross, so it could go in the opposite direction. As we got off the bridge they immediately called us. Now, there are certain things I don’t like Sue to hear and this was one of those times.

“3rd bridge {which we still had to cross} is full and there is deep water on both sides of the bridge itself. There is also a step that you have to negotiate, which you can’t see, under the water – go very, very slowly and be very, very careful” is what we were told.

Looking back at 3rd Bridge

Looking back at 3rd Bridge

I was planning to let Gavin go first over 3rd bridge, so Sue could see it wasn’t that bad. But when I had it in my sight, I knew I should just go and get it over with before Sue could even think about it. So I didn’t even stop.

We dropped down to the river and went straight in, the water was getting deeper and deeper, half way up our doors now. I was following the advice we had been told of going very, very slowly. Our car’s engine cut out and I couldn’t re-start it. Sue was quiet – looking straight ahead -this was not good – really not good.

Going very slowly in water wasn’t the way I knew how to do it. You need to have enough speed to create a wave like a boat and keep your rev’s up to stop water blocking your exhaust – which causes the engine to cut out.

I turned the ignition again and to my delight it started. I got the revs up and accelerated. We were moving nicely through the deep water when we hit the step, that we had been told about. I put more power and we surged up and over it. The front wheels were on the bridge, but the back wheels and trailer still had to get up. I put even more power.

The back wheels were up, but they had found a gap between poles and were just spinning- the trailer was still in the water. I think Sue just wanted to die when I put the car into reverse. I went back only as far as to get the back wheels up onto the back pole. I put the car into first and accelerated – we bounced around and the bridge groaned – but we were up.

The first part was over, but we still had to get over the bridge and through water on the other side.

As we moved slowly across the bridge we could feel the poles shifting and they creaked as we went. It was down into the water again. Lucky enough it wasn’t that deep and apart from some poles on the bottom it was easy.

We had done it. It was time to get the camera out and watch the other two getting through.

DSC_0144Gavin was next and promptly did what I had done and also cut out. Once he got going again he also put foot and even quicker than I had done. He hit the step and his car almost launched into the air and he kept on going until he was on the bridge.

Now like a good golfer that replaces his divots, so he got out of his vehicle and replaced a log that he had knocked away from the bridge. From the bridge he put foot and flew through the last water section.

3rd Bridge

Tswinkie was last and from his expression he didn’t want to do this, but he knew he had to. His wife Dinah was petrified. Learning from Gavin and I, he kept his revs and speed high, I am sure his front wheels went airborne when he hit the step. It was then across the bridge DSC_0163and full speed through the last water, spraying us all.

The nose cone of Gavin and Jean’s trailer was full of water and Tswinkie’s rear lights were dangling, which we just pushed back into place. Everybody was so hyped and we celebrated conquering 3rd Bridge with a stunning cold beer.

I am sure that the ferry at Khumaga will be a cruise from now on.

There was still more excitement to come that day, but that will follow…….

 

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About PeteMorrie

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2 Responses to Moremi National Park: 3rd Bridge

  1. Bridgette & Geoffrey Flint says:

    WOW! That beer at the end must have tasted GOOOOOODDD!!!!! Keep the blogs coming bro!! I really think I need to do that book about your life! Luv Bxx

  2. Suki says:

    Xuku Pools looks interesting. Stunning water picture amongst the trees. Lots of muscles clenching & toning going on on that bridge crossing. It is such a human thing that we grab the cameras when someone is about to do something silly/odd 🙂 Fab read! Well done you lot.

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