Kasane, Botswana to Zimbabwe border, via Kubu Island
We all enjoyed camping at Chobe Safari Lodge, it is an upmarket lodge that's very artificial and feels very weird after being bush for the past 6 days but just being able to sit around our camp without having to be on the alert for lions, elephants, baboons was a welcome rest bite. The camp had some resident warthogs and it was great to see Arabella's confidence in chasing them away every time they came close to our food. The camp is within walking distance from the town centre and we head in to buy some souvenirs from the craft markets and stock up at the supermarket, desperate for yoghurt, cheese and fresh fruit.
Early morning Edwina is up getting the fire going and indulges us with a fry up on the braai of bacon and eggs a true treat, we pack up and head out of town with satisfied belly's, our destination Nata Lodge.
Arriving mid-afternoon at Nata there is nothing much to do, the kids took it upon themselves to do some school work whilst Edwina and I met and chatted to a fellow camper Carol and later we all enjoyed the novelty of sitting and eating in a restaurant followed by a good sleep only to be woken by an overland truck departing early.
We head for the Makgadikgadi Pans and plan to spend the night in Kubu Island, again the guide book warns against solo travel as the roads are sandy with many tracks making it easy to get lost, since it's only 1 night we decide to head out solo. The road was actually very good and well signposted although we did use the tracks for Africa GPS, it's probably a different story in wet season.
We pass through the Vet fence, you can't take any meat onto Kubu Island and there is no way of buying anything out there so it's a simple vegetarian meal tonight. Just before getting to Kubu Island we drive out onto the salt pan and stop for lunch, all you can see is the salt pan all the way to the horizon and can see how you could easily lose your sense of direction and get lost and a GPS is essential. This kids enjoyed the novelty of running, sliding around on the pans, it is such an airy lifeless place but at the same time magical so pristine and white, the glare is almost too much for your eyes to handle and the kids soon retire to the shade of the White Elephant. Edwina noticed large eggs on the salt pan, they looked so alien as if they has be dropped from out of space it just seemed so bizarre to see the eggs dotted about far into the distance, this was something we would have to be investigated further. After lunch we head to Kubu Island, we ask the ranger about the eggs on the pans and she explains they are Flamingo eggs that have been blown down the pans after being laid in wet season, they will not hatch but eventually biodegrade, so that was the mystery solve although Edwina still liked the idea they dropped from the skies. We proceed to setup camp, arriving early was great as it gave the kids the freedom of exploring and playing a welcome change from being confined to mum and dads vision after bush camping in Mormeni and Chobe. We enjoy an evening around a roaring fire, looking up at the night sky without a whisper of wind or another humans, we are miles away from the nearest town and have a wonderful sight of the Milky Way overhead for dinner.
Keen to get sorted for our trip to Zimbabwe we head to Francistown and drive into town where we are greeted by complete and utter chaos, Botswana are playing Uganda in the Afcon qualifiers, the whole town is buzzing with people honking horns, dancing, shouting and all displaying the Botswana flag proudly. We make our way through the chaos and pull into a car wash on the side of the main road here we have the opportunity to get the White Elephant cleaned to rid itself of all the salt from driving on the pans, whilst in the carwash the owner makes some calls to see if he can get tickets for the match for us, Edwina is up for it and so is Luca but I air on the side of caution thinking we would be engulfed in the crazy supporters atmosphere and had visions of losing the kids, thankfully no tickets were available.
We stock up on supplies and the plan is to get ourselves sorted for Zimbabwe which is only 90 mins from here, so having a couple of nights at Woodlands Campsite would come in handy, and for the first time in 6 weeks we are camping on grass instead of sand such fantastic feeling, simple pleasures are even becoming a big deal to the children who can't help themselves but roll around on the grass with delight, the kids make a b-line straight for the pool and don't hesitate to jump into the cool water much to the annoyance of Edwina, within minutes they are out freezing and demanding a warm shower which was another luxury for us all. Pitched near us, we hear a Kiwi, South African and American accent they make themselves known to us and we end up sharing the braai cooking area and enjoying each other's company late into the evening. Not much really goes on the following day it's a chance for applying for the kid's school places and the internet being so slow that took up most of the day. We spot some other vehicle and I put money on it they are on the same tour as us, we make our way over and introduce ourselves and yes quid's in they are on the same tour of Zimbabwe as us. Edwina and I spend time sorting and spring cleaning the White Elephant trying to rid it of sand embedded in the tents and every other place possible. I have been giving Edwina a hard time about her housekeeping and telling her she needs to keep up with the South African travellers, the majority we have met on our journeys have dusters and wash down their vehicle's on a regular basis, with the trip in Zimbabwe being operated by a South African company it gave me great baiting material to get Edwina worked up on her poor housekeeping but of course it's all in jest, but she still takes the bait but won't get a feather duster.
Rested and sorted we head out for the next leg, Zimbabwe.