Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Botswana Self Drive Holiday. Day Four. Third Bridge to Xakanaxa.

It was an early start today, to get packed up and to the Mboma Boat Station for the Mokoro trip at 10.00. Once again the drive was easy, it did not take 1 hour. The road did have some very deep patches of sand, but the car & driver coped well with it and we didn’t get stuck. There was very little wildlife to see, just a few Giraffe and Warthogs.
The Mboma Boat Station has both Mokoros and moter powered boats.

A Mokoro is a type of canoe commonly used in the Okovango Delta. It is propelled through the shallow waters of the delta by standing in the stern and pushing with a pole, in the same manner as a punt. Makoros are traditionally made by digging out the trunk of a large straight tree, such as the Sausage Tree. To preserve the old trees, modern Makoros, are made from fibergass.
Our ‘Poler’ was called Dainel, he was a very good guide and extremely well informed about the plants and animals of the Delta. He punted us out to the small Island, where we got out of the Mokoro to look at a Bee Hive in a tree.
The big tree on the island was used by a Leopard as a scratching post, the trunk had lots of deep scratches on it.
After the relaxing ride through the swampland, we drove back to Third Bridge Campsite to have lunch. As soon as we drove over Third Bridge, heading for Xakanaxa, we were greeted by a large herd of Elephants.
This drive was lovely, passing through some beautiful old Mopani forests. The Delta was on the left hand side, the water levels were very high at times, we saw herds of Elephants, Hippo, Red Letchwe, Water Buck & Impala. The roads were like a maze and I was very glad to have the Veronica Roodt Moremi Road Map and Gamin handheld GPS. With out these we would have got very lost.
As we got very close to Xakanaxa Capsite, we almost went the wrong way, as the sign post had been removed. This was at the junction where there are three Lodges, Camp Okuti, Xakanaxa and Camp Moremi. I was very surprised when I saw these three Lodges, as they are right next to the camp site. So close that one of the Camp Okuti ‘rooms’ is up against the fence that separates the campsite from the lodge!
The Campsite was great. We were not booked in at it, but took a chance. There was plenty of room, as the pitches are large The site is adjacent to the Xakanaxa Boat Station. With the pitches all along the river. We were next to a German couple who had driven from Savuti.
That evening as we sat in the dark looking up at the Milky Way, we heard trees breaking and twigs snapping, the noise got louder & louder. The culprit was a very large Elephant walking through the camp! Later, we were woken by the sound again, this time very close to us, so close I felt the tent rustle as an Elephants ear brushed against the canvas. We stayed very still, and quiet for what seemed like ages, then the Elephant trumpeted! It was right next to us.
The next morning we checked out the tracks in the sand, the Elephants footprints were the largest I have ever seen, but more worrying were the tracks of a Spotted Hyena next to the car, and Leopard tracks over the Elephant prints! We didn’t hear that?