acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Friday, September 4, 2009

picture window

We came back to Selinda yesterday. It was a three day drive. I thought you might like some pictures taken through the windscreen as we went along.  Some of the blurs are beetle juice, and others are  chips from flying stones.
Part of the long road we travelled runs to the south and west of the great Makgadikgadi  Pans and east of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Round about a town called Rakops the scenery is flatter than a pancake. A bright white moonscape of open salt pans, spikey grasslands, and stunted acacia bushes. Dustdevils travel the open plains freely - coasting about on the horizon and sometimes boiling up in your immediate view and spinning across the mirage laden tar.
People live here. Traditional style villages of mud and thatch dwellings provide scant shelter from such an elemental zone. Donkeys, hobbled in two's and three's still taste the wind and try to run in their tragi-comic shuffle. 
Cattle are rounded up on horseback - cowboy country. Road hazards are mainly livestock - cattle, donkeys, horses, goats. There are no fences and in such a giant landscape, they seem intent for some reason on snoozing on the tar. 
This road takes us to Maun - safari capital of Botswana and the jumping off point to the Okavango Delta. A sprawling dusty town built around supplying the tourism industry. We caught up with some pals, and bought supplies then set off through the Moremi Game Reserve heading west to get north.
Things got interesting after we crossed the bridge at Kwai.  Contractors are building a new calcrete road, there are detours for construction, and detours for new floodwaters and pretty soon you only have the shadows on the sand  to tell you which direction you are heading in.  We found ourselves on a track going west, threading through mopane forests and flooded grasslands. Driving through water then sand for miles and miles. We needed to go north, but kept heading further west until sometime mid afternoon we came to a junction.  You could say we were lost, in that we didnt know for sure where we were. 
So we chose the track that went north, assuming it would eventually connect with a route we knew that would take us to camp. We were lucky the track stayed true north but it rolled and rolled through scrub mopane forest with hardly a break in the scenery for two hours. We tried to keep the courage of our convictions along the way, but couldnt help but wonder. Thoughts wandered to Dr Livingstone, and later Selous, trekking through this endless mopane at a much slower pace, desparate to find water.
The shadows grew longer. I had the sun on my left shoulder and K had the moon on his right. Just as we were beginning to despair we arrived at the crossroads on the TFC (tsetse fly control) road and over the way the last leg of the journey to Selinda.
Floodplains opened up around us and lions were calling as evening fell. Peace descended and all the rattle and clatter of travel and towns eased out of our shoulders. It felt so good.
Oh and for those who were following my previous posts about the Selinda Spillway and water pushing in from the Okavango River after 30 years of dryness. Well the two channels met whilst we were gone. Apparently after constant checking and monitoring, the last few meters went so fast that everyone missed it! there was a celebration gathering to mark the occasion anyhow as new water is Big News in a desert country!

16 comments:

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Thanking for bringing us along on your trip. My you do have to be brave to end up in the middle of nowhere, not knowing when you will return to your planned route. But, then again, what choice do you have? Very interesting country.

Glad the water came.

Lyn said...

What an adventure. I have a deep fascination and interest in every Africa. Your posts are so vivid in description I feel as though - if only for a moment - I am right along there with you. When you were describing being lost on the long, dusty, sandy track -- I had to go get a drink of water! Thank you for sharing. It makes the world a little smaller -- but even more grander!

Janelle said...

ah great post val! amazing about all the water eh? and loved the pic of the sandy road through the mopane..i can smell the dust and mopane. god i miss mopane here. lovely! thanks for sharing your journey. awesome. lots love x janelle

Aerie-el said...

I love seeing the photos and reading about your adventures there!!
At first glance, I thought the very first photo was of the long straight road I've been down many times in the Mojave Desert in Southern California, where dust devils and creosote bushes abound!
But no way, we're not in California in this post! Fascinating read and great pictures.

Janet said...

. . . . and how was Mrs "sweetness and light" at Platjan???

mercifully you found the road before dark!!

Fire Byrd said...

Oh I'm glad you found yourselves, cause Dr Livingstone might have taken some hunting down.
Lovely descriptive words as ever.
Love the last shot, very atmospheric.
xx

Kristin said...

I love being on the road with you!

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Rakops! My husband was born in Xhumo and went to primary school in Rakops. It's our area. Your pictures indeed do it justice. When my husband grew up, of course, it was a different place. They were the river people and the Boteti flowed every year. Ill advised policies put paid to that, sadly.

e said...

Thanks so much for sharing your latest adventure and I am glad you found your way...Variance in lanscapes and waterways can be interesting, yes? I love your line about the tragi-comic shuffle of the donkeys...

Vagabonde said...

What a long journey, and hazardous too. I worked with many trainees from Africa and went to North, East and West Africa a dozen times now, not South Africa yet. I tried to obtain as many old books on Africa as I could and now have more than 400. I found my first edition (1859) Livingstone book in a dusty second-hand store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana years ago. I also found a first edition Mary Kingsley on her travels to West Africa in a small London book store. When I wish to get away from all the US politics I go and read one of my African books, like Selous, Emil Hollub, Dinesen, Perham, etc. and now I can read your blog too, how lucky is that.

Lori ann said...

Thanks Val for the dreamy post. I was getting a little worried for you though, I can picture the endless road... i love taking these trips with you.

Val said...

dear all thanks for your lovely comments - i keep trying to respond but connection gets lost...
i love having you all along with me in my head on travels x
Lauri - how interesting that your husband remembers Rakops as it was before. Tell me more about the policies that changed all that please.
blog on everyone and enjoy xxV

Val said...

hehe it worked! xx

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

The main one was the daming of the Boteti and then using the water at the mine in Orapa. I'm not sure who did the envirnomental impact on that but it was seriously off base. That ans the terrible years of drought put paid to the area. Every year the Boteti flowed further than Mopipi. The flooding of the area was part of traditional farming there, a bit like farmers along the Nile. That lifestyle is all but gone now because of a few poor decisions.

Some also blame the Boteti's downfall on a misguided rice growing project in Maun. Not sure about that one.

Lorac said...

Amazing adventure. I have been lost in the bush on old logging roadsin northern Ontario. Saw the biggest black bear I have ever seen on an old logging road, but never had to worry about lions! We have to take cans of fuel with us to ensure we don't get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Do you as well?

Tiennie said...

Hey man, reading this gives me goosebumps!!!!
Great!!