Our drive through to South Gate and 2 nights camping there on our own.
With only 122km to drive to get to South Gate we were able to enjoy a good breakfast, delivered to our tent in a basket, before hitching the trailer and setting off. We filled up with diesel in Maun and then headed north on the road to Moremi.
The road up to the Veterinary Fence was tar and we made good time getting there. We’d been told that braai wood would not be available at the campsites so we bought 8 bundles from a vendor on the side of the road and strapped them on top of the trailer before going through the checkpoint.
The last 30km to South Gate was dirt road. We stopped to deflate our tyres…I’d learnt my lesson! There was never any danger of getting into any trouble with soft sand on that final stretch but it was quite rough and corrugated. We drove slowly keeping an eye out for animals which were browsing in the bush. It was exciting to start seeing elephant, giraffe and buck. We were back in the bush at last.
We arrived at the South Gate entrance at about 12:30pm and checked in at the reception office before going through to our campsite.
There weren’t many other people camping there that day. We were thrilled to have been allocated a site well away from the few other campers that were there. It didn’t take too long to put up our tent and set up camp.
Although South Gate campsite is next to the main entrance to Moremi and has staff quarters close by, there were no fences to keep the wildlife out. This was the first time that Pippa and I had camped on our own in a wilderness camp, exciting stuff…although a bit of nervousness crept in closer to the evening! There had been numerous conversations about how sensible we needed to be on our own!
Later in the afternoon we went on a short drive to get a feel for the landscape and tracks that we’d be driving on. The tracks seemed fairly innocuous and easy going.
We enjoyed our short outing and saw a few Impala, Zebra, Warthog, Tsessebe, Wildebeest and Waterbuck. We decided that we’d get back to camp early though so that we could get our braai going and have dinner before it got dark.
Well, our intentions for an early meal were good but my execution in getting the braai done was pretty dismal. I got the fire going fairly smartly. The pleasure of sitting next to the fire with whiskey in hand, the sun setting and Baboons shouting from the nearby trees was all too much of a distraction for me though. I’m afraid the process of cooking was delayed somewhat! Pippa was not pleased. The close proximity of the bush and the lack of visibility, together with the shouting of the Baboons, had spooked her. She was concerned that it might have been a Leopard that had set the Baboons off. I was ‘encouraged’ to hurry up but still only managed to get the meat cooked well after darkness had settled.
It wasn’t long after we’d eaten and while having a cup of coffee that we had a visitor. I was next to the fire and Pippa was sitting in her chair next to our tent when we noticed that a very large Hyena had arrived. It was eyeing me from not more than 5 meters away. Fortunately it must have decided that I was 2 legs short of a decent meal and turned around and left. That was enough for Pippa…everything was quickly packed away and we were zipped up in the safety of our tent. I didn’t argue!
We didn’t sleep well that night. Pippa was very unsettled and to top that off there was a lot of commotion in another part of the camp with a couple of animals having a go at each other. We didn’t know what animals were involved or what they were fighting about or how far away they were. All of which combined to make things a little bit scary. We survived though!
Soon after getting up the next morning we noticed an unhappy camper searching for something. He came across for a chat and told us that a Honey Badger and a Hyena had been fighting over spoils in their campsite. They hadn’t packed things away before going to bed, a bad mistake! A few articles of clothing had been scattered around the campsite, including his still missing jacket. I wonder if he ever found it?
We had a cup of coffee before setting off for a drive to the Black Pools area of Moremi. Very soon after leaving the campsite we came across a Honey Badger. Maybe the same chap that had been in the camp the previous night? It didn’t have a jacket though, so maybe not!
We didn’t see a lot of game on our drive which was disappointing. The track was quite interesting though. It was mostly very easy going and comfortable but had a few sandy patches that we had to navigate. One fairly long stretch in particular got the pulse rate going. Fortunately we managed without getting stuck. It’s not a place I’d like to have to get out the car to do some digging!
We saw quite a variety of birds , including a Lilac Breasted Roller, which pleased Pippa.
We drove around for quite some time before arriving at a water crossing. Pippa was quite keen to go through but I chickened out. We hadn’t seen any one else driving around the whole morning and the thought of getting stuck in the middle of the crossing didn’t overly appeal to me. I reckon that if you want to go through water then buy a boat! So we turned around and headed back to camp.
We didn’t go out again that afternoon and spent the time relaxing in the camp and enjoying the birds and smaller animals that we saw.
I’d learnt my lesson the previous night and was determined not to foul up cooking times again. I started the fire nice and early that evening and had the meat cooked before dark. That just meant a slightly early start to sundowners…not too much of a hardship!
So having behaved and cooked the meal in good time it turned out to be a very quiet evening. No shouting baboons, no Hyena visiting and no Honey badger fighting and creating havoc. We ended up sitting out next to the fire until well after dark and felt quite relaxed and at peace with the universe! A good night’s sleep was had by both of us.
The next morning we had coffee and breakfast before taking down the tent and packing everything away. We didn’t know what time to expect John, Graham and their families. They had been camping at Baines Baobab in the Nxai Pans National Park. They only had 260km to travel but they had some fairly rough track to negotiate to get back onto the main road to Maun and then to South Gate. We were packed and ready for them by 10:00am so spent some time wandering around the campsite. Once again there were plenty of birds and smaller animals to keep us occupied…including a Puff Adder which we came across near the ablution block. Not my best sighting of the trip. I hate snakes!
Later in the morning we decided to go for a short drive. We had a couple of nice sightings of Impala, Giraffe and another Lilac Breasted Roller. Plenty of them in that part of the world!
We went back to the camp at about 1:00pm and hitched the trailer. We were sure that John and company wouldn’t be too much longer so drove to the South Gate entrance to park and wait for them there. They finally arrived at 2:30pm. It was great seeing them all again and we were all eagerly looking forward to moving on to 3rd Bridge!
Part 4: Our 5 nights at 3rd Bridge to follow.