We had great plans for the day. We wanted to leave at 7am sharp and be on our way to the Kwando River.
And until 6:30am everything was going according to plan. All the suitcases were ready to be loaded onto the vehicle, the tents had been taken down and all of us had finished breakfast already. The fact that “something” was in the air was ignored by all of us.
The night before had been extremely hot with not a breath of wind. There had been a stunningly beautiful sunset over Guma Lagoon and afterwards a breathtaking starry sky. We didn’t care about the numerous mosquitoes, or the stuffy air, or the fact that the approaching thunderstorm never happened in the night – all of us sat on the lodge’s wooden terrace gazing at the sky with our mouths wide open, admiring the absolutely amazing stars.
That same night we had also met another Jenman group who followed the itinerary in the opposite direction, starting in Victoria Falls and ending in Cape Town. In the morning they also sat at the breakfast table and had big plans for the day. Somehow that morning we lost the race against time. While the other group left on time and began their day with a happy whistle on their lips, we started loading our bags exactly 10 minutes too late. At exactly 6:30am the sky opened its doors and it started pouring. We left everything where it was and ran for shelter to the breakfast buffet where we waited until the rain “shower” was over. The rain, lightning and thunder made us believe that there is no tomorrow and all our good intentions of leaving at 7am were washed away by the water masses. While everyone else looked rather sad and disgruntled, I couldn’t help grinning. Experiencing a real thunderstorm with lightning in the middle of nowhere had still been on my bucket list. All I wanted to do was dance in the rain – but sadly nobody wanted to join me that morning. Never mind.
One and a half hours later we were ready to dash off in our washed and sparkling vehicle. At about 10am we reached the Namibian border, checked out of Botswana and returned to Namibia – the final destination of the day was the Caprivi Strip that separates Botswana and Angola. This narrow strip of land that also lies between Zimbabwe and Zambia had once been hard-fought. However, nowadays it is a place of quiet rural settlements, and there are even plans to convert the whole region into a national park.
We arrived at the beautiful Kwando Camp at about 3:30pm, the rain had stopped in the meantime and again we were welcomed by steaming heat. We didn’t have time to relax because due to our delay we left again for Mudumu National Park straight after our arrival. This park didn’t seem to be as well-known, as we were the only tourists there, our vehicle making its way through several bushes – a real safari experience! Once again, we were on our mission: finding elephants! So far we had only seen one elephant during the tour, the rest of the time only numerous, huge heaps of elephant dung scattered everywhere. Obviously they were there somewhere, just always hiding from us. As we hadn’t seen them in Etosha National Park, they just had to be here! But we still found…nothing. 100,000 tracks, Elephant heaps wherever you looked but not a single elephant back to be found. This just couldn’t be true!
The rain was definitely to blame. There was sufficient water everywhere and the elephants could drink wherever they wanted, not only from the waterholes that were close to the roads. Anyway: we spotted many hippos, antelopes and numerous, rare bird species. The absolute highlight was a phenomenal, colourful sunset that we watched from a small hill. Standing in the fading light we also saw a huge, 150 years old baobab tree – our first one. And so ended a long, exciting safari day and we drove back to camp where we enjoyed a 3 course candlelight dinner, prepared by our guide, under the starlit sky. The dinner was accompanied by the typical, tropical sounds – the crickets chirping, the quiet jabbering of the birds discussing where to sleep that night, and the croaking of frogs. One could have thought that those sounds came from giant toads, but no. The “gentle” sounds were made by tiny little frogs that you could definitely overlook but never miss hearing. The sky seemed to be incredibly large again; dark, clear and beautiful, and I have to say that with every shooting star I saw that night, I wished that one day I would be able to show this beautiful place to all my friends and family.
– Written by Maria – Jenman Safaris Consultant