Botswana blog: days 11-13

When we last left off, after days 10&11, our speedometer failed. To fully explain, we have to go back to day 11 when we left Chobe and the trouble began. The video below was taken on the road from Chobe, before trouble found us:

Day 11: Departing Chobe for Maun

After our amazing morning of successfully tracking a lioness, we were on a game drive high. Our spirits up, we returned to camp to enjoy breakfast, only to realise Blake had lost his license plate. Bummer. As you might remember, we drove back to the scene of the crime – but found only fragments of the front bumper. Bah-Lah-Key would remain bumper-less for the remainder of our trip.

We had problems with the electronics on the car before, but with a bit of help from Avis Southern Africa in Kasane (near Chobe riverfront), everything was still functioning perfectly. That was a few days earlier, however, and new troubles were on the horizon. As we drove from Chobe to Moremi (going the reverse of our original route), the speedometer suddenly dropped to 0 and wouldn’t budge. We stopped the car, turned it off and on, tried a few other tricks but there it remained, stubbornly at 0. Ricky then noticed a new flashing light on the dashboard – a yellow wrench – indicating the all-wheel-drive was malfunctioning. Damn…

At least there was wildlife to distract us

As we were in the middle of nowhere and still hours from Maun, we decided to drive through Moremi and stop at the campsites to see if anyone could help. After trying two lodges and getting no assistance, we flagged down the driver of a large safari vehicle. He helped us reset the electronics, but to no avail – the warning lights came right back on and the speedometer still wouldn’t work. Damn.

Driving through Moremi, unlike our first time when we were carefree and enjoying the game, was slow and painful. Ricky drove as I was a bundle of nerves and worried I’d make everything worse somehow. We needed 4×4 to get smoothly through some of the potholes, but it wouldn’t engage. It took a painful two hours to make it to the bottom of the park, and we still had two hours to go to Maun!

This one chased us for a minute!

The park entrance attendant recognised us from our first visit, when we camped near his office (where we saw the African civet). He and Ricky immediately set about trying to fix the car from below, scrambling around with electric tape and rachets. While they managed to reconnect the AWD wires, for some reason the dashboard light wouldn’t turn off. And the speedometer remained stubbornly at 0.

It was 3:30pm when we finally left Moremi for Maun. We wouldn’t make it in time to see a mechanic, so our destination was Island Safari Lodge, our family friend’s lovely riverside accommodation and venue. We were frustrated that our trip plan had to change, but looked forward to seeing familiar faces.

As we drove on the wide gravel road, about an hour past Moremi, the speedometer suddenly started working! We whooped and laughed and rolled the windows down – oh, the wonders of the African bush!

When we pulled into the campsite it was already getting dark and we were exhausted. We opted to have dinner at the lodge’s restaurant (complete with ice cream and chocolate sauce!) and fell asleep before 9pm. Side note: if you’re ever in Maun for a night or two, definitely make Island Safari Lodge a destination – for a sunset cruise, a meal or to stay. The hospitality is amazing and it’s the most relaxing place in Maun!

Zebras wondering, what are those fools doing??

Day 12: Maun

The next morning we awoke to a lovely sunrise illuminating the Thamalakane River. After a jog along the lodge’s trail network, Ricky took Blake to a local Ford dealership for repairs. He called me to tell me the news: it would be fixed, but they would keep it until afternoon. We would be staying in Maun for another day.

While we were both disappointed not to be in the bush, it was also nice to have a day of relaxing and doing absolutely nothing. I wrote a blog post, called my parents and read a book. In the afternoon we retrieved the Ford and were told it would certainly get us through the rest of the trip. When we got back to camp we found that our German and American (‘Germerican’) friends from the road to Chobe had arrived! They had taken our advice and driven to Maun for a couple of nights before heading back to Namibia.

Along the road to Maun

We shared a few (perhaps too many) drinks with the Germericans by the fire that evening. It was a lovely end to a relaxing day, but after 24 hours in civilisation we felt the bush calling us back. We were excited to wake up the next morning and get back on the road.

Sometimes God has other plans for us. This time, His plan involved Ricky purging his body of whatever evil he had consumed in the previous hours. At 2am, Ricky rushed out of the tent and got violently ill. He was up all night, tossing and turning, in and out of the tent. I think he scared one hippo nearly to death! As a result I also didn’t sleep much, and we were both a mess in the morning.

Hippo from Chobe river

Day 13: Maun

I drove Ricky to the nearest doctor at an air rescue office in Maun. He was prescribed a number of medications and we went back to the lodge and booked a chalet. For the first time in two weeks, we would sleep in a real bed. Ricky spent the day in bed, nursing himself slowly back to life (I made sure he had water, bananas and oats), while I read and walked around the property.

By that evening Ricky was feeling much better, but still wasn’t able to eat or drink very much. Likely a 24-hour stomach flu, he had essentially done a mini, extremely uncomfortable, detox, and had to slowly reintroduce food to his sensitive stomach. All I can say is, thank God we were in town and at a lodge when this happened! Can you imagine having a stomach flu in the middle of the Botswana bush? Perhaps you would gain the unwanted attention of a predator, hearing a sick and (man flu) weak human calling for help…!

Seeing as this post didn’t have many mentions of animals, here’s a video of a giraffe:

Next time: Departing Maun for Mkgadikgadi Pans and Tiaan’s Camp, a river crossing like none other and herds of gemsbok!

6 thoughts on “Botswana blog: days 11-13

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