We continued driving north (me in the safari truck again) leaving the Central Kalahari National Park. We hit the bitumen and headed into a small town called Rakops to refuel. We spotted a bakery and made a detour to buy freshly baked loaves, a wonderful change from the now very stale and crumbly bread we had purchased in Windhoek.
Back on the tar for a short time then a turnoff down a dirt road led to a small river and a car ferry. The ferry would have fitted no more than two cars at a time, was powered by a tiny 15HP motor and was decidedly untended. The water wasn't deep though nor swiftly flowing so after some lunch, we crossed over into the Makgadikgadi National Park. Almost at once we saw animals we had not seen yet. A group of elephants crossed right in from of the truck. We switched off the engine and sat quietly watching them pass by. With no other noise bar some bird-song, you realise just how quietly an elephant moves. Unless a twig snaps, they are completely silent, incredible for an animal of such bulk. As we drove further we saw more animals by the river so found a path down to watch over 35 elephants in various groups drinking. A big herd of zebra with quite a few very young ones sauntered past the truck, though they kept a wary eye on us. In the bush, we saw our first impala for the trip. This is an area where springbok and impala intersect with more springbok southwards and more impala and gazelle as you go north. Some vervet monkeys watched us from the side of the road as well. So it was a complete change of animal types to the drier region we had just come from.
We passed through the exit gate to the park and shortly after entered the Nxai Pan National Park, our camp for the night.
Another game drive for the sunset capped off the day.
This was, however, the most interesting ablutions block of the trip so far. Up to now, the toilets were simply long-drops and a shower was a supplied bucket hung high with a shower rose and valve underneath. Here was a shower block with HOT SHOWERS and FLUSHING TOILETS!! One thing though - it was surrounded by an electric fence, each side of which had a 2 metre strip of 30 cm-high concrete pyramids topped with iron spikes. A very narrow path for humans to access the building zig-zagged in to the gate. Reason? Elephants! They can be hugely destructive and tend to rip structures like the solar panels to pieces. And in the dark that night, a group of 5 elephants loitered around the gate. It took daring and courage to brave the short distance across the open area from camp to get to the gate and inside the fence, trying not to touch the live wires attached to the gate as well as the fence. But the shower was well worth it.