acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Friday, September 23, 2011

Island Odyssey

To get to the island we have to drive across five kilometers of floodplain. Its a beautiful drive past islands of trees, some dense with monkey vines and creepers, others an arrangement of palm trees on raised termite mounds.  In between, there are white sand beaches, and acres of glossy green marsh grasses.  Sometimes there are elephants, but more often a scattering of free range cattle and donkeys.

Its six months since we have been to the island.  Exceptionally high flood waters from the Okavango River have flooded these plains, making it impossible to drive through.  We are not sure we will make it this time, but Oneman, who lives on the island feels more confident.  He knows this place.  they have been returning to the village by makoro (dugout canoe) in recent months due to the floods. Now the water is too shallow for the canoe. With Oneman on board guiding us on a new route we feel more confident. Even so, launching off the dry sand into long waterlogged marshes is a leap of faith.

We cross a small stream, and squeeze our 4x4 vehicle through a tight alley of rigid thorn trees. The unforgiving thorns shriek against our paintwork like nails on blackboards. We hit water almost immediately, but its clear and we can see sand underneath so we press on.  Flocks of waterbirds, open billed storks and egrets, take flight sending up showers of bright wet diamonds.  We make it through that one. It wasnt deep.  

We emerge onto an island and dip into water again on the other side. Its all going well so far and we start to enjoy the view.  The air is softly hazy and all around the trees are full of blossom, filling the air with their heady scent.  We drive across some dry white sand that squeaks and sings under our tyres.  These plains are dry, and we suprise a herd of elephants who emerge from the dark shaded islands - suprised to see a vehicle approaching after all these months.  A youngster charges out of the bush trumpeting, the adults make their way deeper into the flood-              plains finally vanishing into the haze of water and blossom laden trees.

We have to cross a small gully.  The water is tanin stained coasting over white sand. Looking down I see that we have only just skirted the edge of a really big hole. That was lucky.  We make it through the next few long water crossings, ploughing steadily through bright water dotted with lillies and birds.

"This might be a little bit deep - lets go this way" Oneman points with authority and we dip around the side of a small island to face the final challenge. It looks innocuous enough but soon our heavy tyres are skidding on shiny marsh grasses, barely finding purchase. Somehow or another we move, oh so slowly, along. Half way we bounce through some holes made by elephants crossing the soft mud.  Miraculously we do not get stuck...this time... and just around the corner, the island with its little village of tents, and the Catfish houseboat snuggled into a bay with a lemon tree full of flowers. It feels like we are far far away.  


Amanda Summer said...

your destination sounds like paradise, making a difficult journey quite worth it.....i am seeing the tiny elephant charging with his trunk in the air, feeling how scary it must be for the jeep to drive so close to those deep holes, and the showers of bright wet diamonds.

felt like i was along for the ride. lovely, val♡


Anonymous said...

My heart was in my throat as you described this crossing. Phew no waterlogged vehicle - this time!

Catfish *** sigh *** enjoy :-)


Val said...

Amanda - it is! it truly is paradise there. the adventure is well worth it :)

Janet - ya that hole was heart stopping. but we did get stuck finally on about the tenth try. four big elephant holes in the water and slippery grass. There were leeches too. ugh.

thanks for commeting and for being first up xxV

Angela said...

I can`t imagine what risks you are taking all the time! I`d surely expect all kinds of dangers, and you just casually admit they are THERE, too! But oh, how fantastic it all is. At least to read about your adventures here in my safe home!
The only wildlife we encounter here are not elephants but swans in the sky and our old friend Mr.Humple having returned to his pond.
Thanks for letting us "see" your elephants, Val. And your house boat on the Okavango. Just that name...oh!

mermaid gallery said...

your adventures are so unique and so far away from the western world....almost like journeys from long ago.....the risks are there but you keep going....sometimes foreign adventure sounds scarier than it really it scary?

Friko said...

Your life is full of adventure and natural beauty. I envy you so much.

All this water must be wonderful, like a renewal or a new birth.

Val said...

dear Geli - my fourth try to reply to yours :( life is full of adventures and calculated risks no? i love your adventures inspired by your teaching journeys x

Mermaid - adventure by definition has to have a certain edge but its always best when it works out well! which it usually does :)

Friko - the return of water - be it rainy season, or rivers rising - always makes our primate hearts happy. This time of year with all the trees flowering is very much a rebirth, but there is still so much drought away from the river that looks desperate.

thanks for visiting the Roof. blog on xxV