Through Moremi to Chobe
The bush odyssey was slowly drawing to a close, but before it did so, there was one more game reserve to visit: Chobe. This area nestled between Zimbabwe, Zambia & Namibia & was the focal point of the supply routes of the terrorist organisations fighting the Rhodesian government during the so-called bush war.
From a conservation point of view, what it is renowned for are its elephants; tens of thousands of them.
With unseasonally low water inflow for the third year in a row, the northern reaches of the Okavango had suffered disproportionately due to the low water volumes. The area was in the throes of a fully-fledged drought. This had resulted in the deaths of thousands of animals & the migration of others to greener pastures.
The net result was a dearth of game in the area. This highlighted the interrelationship between nature & weather & the severe dislocation of the former due to irregularities in the latter.
Game still abounded but apparently not in the multitudes previously experienced.
At this point in the debate, a desperate pride of lion started to attack a herd of buffalo. The reason for the classification as being unusual was due to all the aspects being out of character. The main reason was that it was midday.
From our vehicle parked under a shady tree, we had front row seats to this spectacle. We watched enthralled as a pack of 5 lions charged into a herd of at least 100 buffaloes. It was suicidal & indicative of their desperation. Something was bound to get hurt & it wasn’t the buffaloes.
With the abortive charge over, one lion lay on the ground injured. On closer inspection what was revealed was a lion with a dislocated jaw. In the melee & maelstrom of the charge, one of the buffaloes had retaliated against its attacker in the form of a massive kick straight to the jaw.
A slow lingering death lay ahead for this valiant lion intent only a minute previously on feeding its pride.
In a sombre mood as the reality of bush life struck home, we made our way to Chobe.
The area of this attack is called the Moremi National Park & it stretches from the Okavango to Chobe. Like the rest of Botswana it is flat & teeming with game.
As Chobe was approached, the prevalence of elephants was noticeably greater.
We would be staying at a designated camp site. Like all other Camp Sites, this designation meant nothing. The area had practically no facilities & the camping area itself was ill-defined.
A number of close encounters of the worst kind with elephants ensued, concluded our stay in the park
By now the monotony of mielie meal for 3 meals a day was taking its toll. Variety was now craved. Notwithstanding this desire, at least one more meal, if not two, would be mielie meal. By now mielie meal had been prepared in every way imaginable from fried to braaied.
We were finally on our way south to Francistown.
It was whilst travelling south along the main road from Zambia, that we experienced our one & only nasty incident. A beaten-up old Land Cruiser with two disreputable white guys drove alongside our vehicle & started making requests for booze.
Despite a polite refusal mainly because there was barely any left, they became annoyed. It was clear to us that one would not want to tangle with these two & Rob kept a cool head as he rebuffed all their demands.
Eventually, to our clear relief, they turned off the road.
About twenty kilometres further south, an approaching vehicle created another stir as it flashed its lights like a maniac. Tensions rose again. What could it be this time? More nere-do-wells intent on no good?
Instead it was a Scottish friend of Rob’s who was only commencing his two week trip through Botswana. Taking nothing besides a sleeping bag, Rob jumped into this friend’s vehicle & was off for two weeks.
That left the rest of us to drive Rob’s Land Rover back to South Africa.
About 20kms outside Francistown, the tarpaulin was again spread on the ground for us to sleep on as tents were no longer required.
The following day we crossed the border & stopped at Zeerust for supplies. As I walked into the local Spar for the first time I had a funny sensation; I felt dirty & unclean. I am not sure whether I smelled but in all likelihood, I did. We all probably did.
But the rules were the rules: no washing or cleaning. In any case, we had no soap or clean clothes with us as was the stipulation.
What would Rob smell like after another two weeks without washing in the bush?
After viewing the bush so intimately during this trip, I have never wanted to view game in the civilised way that most people do. I now wholeheartedly concur with Rob that in order to understand nature one must be at one with it, to commune with it & become part of it.
By adhering to civilised norms one is treating nature as being different & separate from humans instead of being part of the continuum of life.
For me, the zoo & the nature reserve will always be an alien concept at odds with nature. Maybe not as alien in the case of National Parks but nonetheless man is merely an observer rather than an integral part of the cycle of nature.
Whilst appreciating the important role that these three forms of viewing nature serve, for me, stooping down to nature’s level highlights the umbilical cord between all types of nature & that includes humans.
Episodes of Living the Rhythms of a Bush Life
Living the Rhythms of a Bush Life Part 1: Prologue & 10km Trip
Living the Rhythms of a Bush Life Part 2: Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pan
Living the Rhythms of a Bush Life Part 3: Bain’s Baobab, The Mokoro Interlude & Starvation Rations
Living the Rhythms of a Bush Life Part 4: Into the Heart of the Okavango
Living the Rhythms of a Bush Life Part 5: Through Moremi to Chobe & Home