One last adventure in Botswana
Five Days, 3200km on African roads and we make it to Planet Baobab in Botswana for one last adventure into the bush, Nxai Pan.
A full day at Planet Baobab was just what was needed, washing, relaxing, swimming and a chance for me to book flights back to England via Dubai. We pack up everything ready to head off to Nxai Pan first thing in the morning. It's only 60 km down the road so we make it to the entrance gates nice and early. Edwina has been itching to drive, I lock the diff locks and hand over the keys to Edwina. Nxai Pan is a small National park and very close to Kubu Island where we stayed back in June. This park of the pans hosts lions, cheetah and other wildlife, it has bush camping I thought that this would be a fitting end to our last nights in the roof tents. Little does Edwina know about the road to our bush camp South Camp, it could get interesting! The ranger tells me that the roads are very sandy and only stick to these particular routes that he points out on the map to me. I relay this information to Edwina and she is not deterred, so off we head to Baines Baobab viewpoint the track is very sandy but The White Elephant makes it with ease. The Baines Baobab is a famous painting from the early 1800's by British explorer Thomas Baines and to this day the Baobab look identical in shape and form. We have lunch on the Salt pans with the view of the Baobabs and head off in the direction of South Camp. I give Edwina the option to take the shorter route or follow behind another vehicle the way we came in. She opts for the short cut, it was nice to drive over the salt pans and to have a different view from the way in but then we hit deep sand and single ruts with nowhere to go but to stick to the track, she puts her foot down, it was a very bumpy ride. Thinking we are out of the woods I direct her at a junction towards South Camp all was fine at the start but then super deep sand starts and it is relentless for 10 km there is no way you can stop it would be pretty difficult to start again. I had left the truck in high ratio 4WD and I didn't deflate the tyres when we started we had just locked the diffs, poor old White Elephant was a 4000 revs and gear changes between 1 and 2 for about 8km until the engine over heated with no choice but to stop, this was the deepest sand driving we had come across since crossing the Namib desert. At this stage I tell Edwina that we had taken the wrong turn and hadn't taken the boundary road, she is so concerned that a gasket has blown and we are miles from anyone to help. I take the opportunity to deflate the tyres and when the engine is cool I manage to drive in low ratio and drive out the next 2 km. All Edwina wants is a nice cold beer she loved the adrenaline and the challenge of sand driving but instead of beer we spend the next 3 hours driving around the pans spotting, Elephant, Bat Ear Fox, Springbok, Jackal and Ostrich, the beer is cold and time to set up camp. Edwina and Luca head to the ablution block and before long we have an elephant visit camp I head off to warn Edwina but no need Luca gets a fright when he opens the gate, Edwina and Luca are both caged in at the toilets whilst the elephant passes by. We set camp up watching the elephant drink and another soon comes by to join, a lovely way to watch the sun go down, cold beer, elephants in camp, Edwina proud she didn't get the truck stuck but annoyed it over heated and a filling dinner, a fitting end to the day. It's an uneventful night no more wildlife visiting the camp and we are up, tents down and head to the waterhole just as the sun is rising, we can't believe our luck there is a Lioness with her very young 2 cubs drinking as soon is the sun is up they head off across the savannah and Edwina drives us out of the National park, what a way to end our adventures in Africa. Edwina and I are really pleased we took this 500km detour to have this one last adventure camping in the bush. Now the drive continues south to Johannesburg it's a 9 hour drive.