acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Road to Selinda

That night in kasane it rained and rained - proper summer thunder,
lightening and steady thrumming of rain. From my cosy dry sleeping
place i listened to the summer sounds and smells in wonder. This is
summer rain in winter. Botswana has had just amazingly good rains
again this year - second year running. There is water everywhere -
pans in the back country; ancient river beds blossoming into green
ribbons; big rivers waking up and stretching out - making lakes in the
flat sand country. Water reaching into places it hasnt been in years;
Villages underwater, built long ago on historic floodplain areas -
now forced to move to higher ground - and apparently there is a second
flood on its way.

Driving out of town through the Chobe National Park - dark purple
curtains of rain drifted all around the landscape like elephants on a
moonlit plain. ooh err - were we going to get stuck in the mud again?

At Katchekow the road was washed away from the rain - just enough
space for one car to pass. Villages out at Satau are completely cut
off by floodwaters now - how will they be feeling about this winter

The clouds clear and we leave the rain belt - turning out onto the
park boundary - a wide cut line of sand tracks between the forest.
The sky is deep blue here, and everything washed clean by the rain -
leaves rejuvinated blaze a fresh green and rust orange bright against
the blue.

The sand is our friend - the rain has made a hard surface to drive on.
But all the pans are full of water again. We porpoise in and out of
mini lakes - sending bow waves of peaty water surging in the sparkly
light. Slewing on slippery tracks here and there but managing to keep

Half way down the cutline is a pan with an ancient dark ebony tree
growing by the side of a termite mound, making a rampart into the
pan. We often stop here for leg stretches. Today a pack of wild dogs
are here, on a kill. We must be minutes behind the action because they
are only just dividing the spoils. Marbled patterned dogs with big
mickey mouse ears, twitter and flit around claiming torn strips of red
sinew, meat and membrane. Its a grisly scene, but the dogs are
excited. They move without hardly seeming to touch the ground,
skittering around the pan, ears and eyes flitting all around.

Something catches their attention in the mopane scrub beyond the pan.
One jumps and barks a warning. Like children playing Grand Mothers
Footsteps, they each approach inquisitively, yet wired for flight at
the slightest sound. As we watch, a huge male lion charges out of the
bush chasing the dogs. His body is like a barrel, his massive head
framed in a ginger and black mane which reaches down his chest.

The dogs flee to a safe distance which happens to be behind our
vehicle. The lion looks directly at us, wondering if he should chase
us too? his nostrils are wide and his head raised to pick up the
slightest scent; his mouth a wide black square full of teeth. `Its
strange that when a super predator looks in your general direction -
there is no question in your mind when he is focussed on you, and when
he is focussed on someone next to you. You know when its you. Theres a
sort of squirming in the pit of your stomach that reaches back to the
depths of vestigial memory.

He marks some bushes and vanishes back behind the mopane curtain. Two
steps and he is invisible again. The dogs take off down the cutline
ahead of us ready for the next kill.


Rosaria Williams said...

My goodness, my mouth is frozen, yet my teeth feel like shattering. I am in a sweat, worried and petrified. When this trip is finished, I want a full report!

Reya Mellicker said...

WOW! My stomach is rolling just reading about it.

What do you do when a large predator is focused on you? Do you try to shift your energy or become invisible or ... ?? What's your strategy or do you have one?

What a scene! As always, Val, THANK YOU. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Now that was a bit of perfect timing - an experience like no other. Thanks for the perfect picture woven with your words.

Lorac said...

I live the story through your eyes and the telling of a tale! Kudos!

Verily I go. said...

Yes me too, I live these stories and I love being right there with you only...I'm going to go hide under my covers now. Holy Moley, thanks.

Val said...

Lakeviewer - ah sorry!! no we made it fine - safe and sound.... just another adventure :-)

Reya - no strategy - altho there are plenty theories; we were in a vehicle tho so that felt kind of safe :-)
on foot - ah thats another story.. "Dont Run" they say... Shifting energy and becoming invisible definitely worth a try x

Rob - yes - how was that for timing!!

Lorac - greetings and thanks for your comment

Verily I go - its ok you can come out of the covers now :-) thanks for the visit!

Angela said...

In reading your comments I wondered where mine was! But I was probably too much out of breath and could not write down what I felt and saw before my eyes...or maybe I was hiding underneath my blanket, too. Jesus, Val, what sights are you offering us! Great post AGAIN!

Unknown said...

Awesome post - truly there is nothing else to say. Just totally awesome!
Write that book!!!

Lori ann said...

hmmm...i wonder where my comment went? i was sure i left it here the other day! did i leave it in the email instead? hmmm..
Well. Wow. Great adventure Val. Thanks so much for sharing and bringing us right in the truck with you.
Glad you are having fun!
Can you post some leopard pics? please? heehee.
x lori

Anonymous said...


Where the wild dog pics please?

Janelle said...

awesome! how lucky you are to spend so much time out there...for now i am hankering after a city and a book shop and a few good restaurants and good roads and new clothes and some new shoes and and and!!!! xxx janelle

Val said...

Geli and Lori - thats funny I wonder where you comments went before? thanks for coming back tho x

Ab Van - thanks - am thinking.......

Janet - have had some problems loading pics - not sure why - but will persevere!

Janelle -sounds like you need a first world fix? I wonder where tho? hope you can make plans xx

Val said...

Geli and Lori - thats funny I wonder where you comments went before? thanks for coming back tho x

Ab Van - thanks - am thinking.......

Janet - have had some problems loading pics - not sure why - but will persevere!

Janelle -sounds like you need a first world fix? I wonder where tho? hope you can make plans xx

Tessa said...

Well, Val, that left me almost entirely speechless. Fantastic post.

Sandra Leigh said...

There's one advantage to being late to the party - I know you're okay, and I'm glad of that. Beautiful post.

Pseudo said...

That was amazing writing and thank-you for taking me there so vividly. So glad i found your blog.