Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Third Bridge to Xakanaxa, Moremi Game Reserve

The really gung-ho folks get up before the crack of dawn and are out of camp on game drives at first daylight, about 5:30 a.m.  Tom and I are somewhat less gung-go; however, we did get up at 6:00 and take a walk around camp, but then we went back to bed.  The baboons were out and about in force this morning, and one of them had unzipped another camper's tent and stolen something.  The robbed woman was on a guided tour, and her guide managed to retrieve the item from the baboon somehow.  We saw all kinds of animal tracks on our walk, but few animals aside from the baboons and one crocodile we saw from afar, the best way to see one when you're on foot. 

Third Bridge - No swimming!

Our 4x4 had a leaky front left tire.  Examination revealed that some idiot had repaired a hole in the sidewall with a plug.  You're not supposed to use plugs in sidewalls, only in the tread.  Though we had two spare tires, we couldn't change the leaky one without a big ordeal since, as we found out yesterday, the jack handle doesn't fit the jack.  But we also had an air compressor, so each morning Tom filled the tire back up to match the others. 

Third Bridge Camping Site

Yesterday when switching from two-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive, Tom moved the stick to the proper position, the four-wheel-drive indicator light came on, and we got out and checked that the hubs were set to "lock."  But I could see when we were stuck that we weren't in 4WD, because only the back wheels were spinning.  We drove all the freaking way to Third Bridge in two-wheel-drive!  No wonder we got stuck!  Then somehow this morning the 4WD engaged.  I still don't know how the 4WD didn't lock yesterday, but today suddenly it worked, thank goodness. 

We had two nights reserved at Third Bridge Campsite, but with the non-enforcement of camping reservations we'd found from last night, we decided to take our chances and move on to Xakanaxa Campsite, where we really wanted to stay.  We left Third Bridge around 10:30.

Impala a/k/a cat food

We took a relatively direct route to Xakanaxa since we were still testing the 4WD, then did some game drives on the tracks west of Xakanaxa once we got there.  For the longest time we saw nothing but the various antelope, then after a picnic lunch at a pretty location overlooking the Delta, the wildlife started coming out.  There was an elephant; many zebra, as close up as we saw anywhere; silly little blue-balled vervet monkeys; a couple of perfectly posed eland, Africa's largest antelope; and lots of bottom-of-the-food-chain antelope, which Tom calls "cat food."  Constantly we had our eyes peeled for cats, but no sightings today.

Zebras near Xakanaxa


Our own private elephant

Xakanaxa (pronounced Ka-ka-na-ka) Campsite is a narrow strip of land surrounded by lagoon on the Okavango Delta.  The campsites at Xakanaxa are huge.  If people camped like they were officially supposed to, you'd hardly be able to see the next person, unlike the campgrounds at the US parks, where you can't swing a cat without hitting six other people.  We jumped claim on an empty plot near the ablutions, and no one questioned us.

Iridescent bluegreen bird of Botswana

Iridescent blue-balled vervet monkey

In the early afternoon we went to the boat hire next door and arranged a boat and driver for a sunset cruise for one hour for 350 pula, or US$60.  The price is per boat rather than per person, so we rounded up some other folks around camp to share the cost.  I talked to a Spanish lady we'd met at Third Bridge, and she and her friend wanted to come along, and they found three Aussies to join us as well.  With seven of us, the cost was only $9 apiece, quite a bargain.

It was pretty hot again today and very, very dry, even though we were by a lagoon.  We drank all the water we could and just could not stay hydrated.  It will take days when we get back to get our body fluids equalized again.  The water from the taps in Moremi is fine to drink for the locals, but most of the foreigners, with our sensitive stomachs, bring in bottled water.  As hot as it was, we were concerned we might run out of the bottled stuff, so I boiled some from the tap this afternoon and refilled our empties.  Later, Tom and I both took showers fully clothed just to cool off.  It did not take long for the clothes to dry.

The sundowner cruise was fantastic.  The only wildlife was a bunch of birds, the ubiquitous antelopes, and a water monitor lizard, but just to be on the water in the Okavango Delta was so peaceful and relaxing, especially after jostling around in the 4x4 for the last few days.  The seating on the boat was covered, and we all climbed on the roof for an even better view.  The sunset was spectacular! 

Xakanaxa Lagoon, Okavango Delta

Maribou, yellow-billed stork, and friends

Sunset over the Okavango Delta

The only problem with a sunset cruise is we had to walk back to our camper in the dark.  The boat hire was right next door, but with the huge size of the pitches, it was probably a kilometer in the almost complete dark, with Lord knows what prowling around.  There's been incidences of human fatalities from wildlife encounters at this campsite, so I was a little on edge during our stroll.

Safely back at the camper, I cooked up a tasty dinner of bacon, green beans, a hunk of cheddar, and bread.  Everything tastes awesome outdoors!  

After dinner I programmed tomorrow's waypoints into our GPS off of Veronica Roodt's "Shell Tourist Map of Moremi" so I'd be ready to navigate.  Typically I drive while Tom navigates, but I didn't drive inside the parks at all, since with my minimal stick experience, I could easily have stalled, and if you stall in the sand, you can immediately sink up to your undercarriage.  We learned yesterday that's no fun.

A lazy 29 kilometers from Third Bridge to Xakanaxa, with bonus game drives.

Continue to October 17

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