Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Nata Bird Sanctuary

The evening of our stay at the Nata Lodge, several of us went out for a sunset safari truck tour of the nearby Nata Bird Sanctuary. We had contemplated doing this on our own, earlier in the day, but wisely figured the sand was too much for our heavy 2x2 rigs. All this September 4th.
I was last to arrive, so got to ride shot-gun with the driver/guide; when I fastened
the seat-belt, he cutely asked whether I was a cop or a boy scout

Sanctuary office; a simple affair

Sand roads throughout

Leading to dried pond; pans; we are in the Kalahari now,
grassland Kalahari

An ostrich flees

Very dry lake bed

Blue Wildebeeste

Curious zebra

For some reason, there are no predators here...

Our main interest, however, was the flamingos

Stalking flamingos

Pink flutterment

A pair of Kori Bustards (I think)

Another African sunset

On The Road In Botswana

And so we drove on in Botswana, some 800 kilometers, on decent if busy roads, from Martin's Drift, stopping for provisions in Francistown, the 2nd largest city, on to Kasane, and the Senyati Safari Lodge there, where we would spend several nights. Among the memorable features: trucks and sand. Botswana is perhaps the most affluent of southern African nations, and there is much traffic, commercial as well as tourist. Big trucks. Big buses too. Much of Botswana lies on the Kalahari, not a desert, technically (mostly woodland), but sandy to the point that even expert drivers get stuck. Sometimes even 4x4's have to be pulled out of the sand. We got stuck twice off the pavement, en route to Senyati, but Howard and Jenny generously advised and/or pushed us out.
Warthogs have right of way

Just over the border into Botswana...many of the trucks here
are 26 wheelers...

This one of particular interest:

Will, when you come to proselytize the trucking industry in
southern Africa next year, you've got to enlist Dung Beetle

Compound, huts

Campground for our 2nd night in Botswana

Other fork...sand

Reception, store

Camp rules

Stay on marked trails; seriously; they came over in the mid-1800s
with the thousands of Indians, indentured laborers, who worked
the sugar cane fields near Durban; many of the Indians stayed...

Another compound; OK, the (relative) wealth is maybe not
well distributed

Alongside the road every now and then

They also have right of way

Free range elephants

This is at a rest area; seriously; one good thing about a motorhome
is you can stop, get up, stretch, walk around, even have a picnic,
and never leave the safety of the vehicle; Vicki reminds me: none
of the rest areas have facilities beyond maybe a table and benches;
it is unclear whether they are for human or animal picnics

The Nata Lodge, in whose campground we spent our third night
in Botswana; really nice place, big pool, lounge, restaurant;
really sandy campsites (pitches)

Monday, September 18, 2017

En Route To Botswana

From the Forever Resort we drove on through Messina and then on a final, horrible 100k stretch of potholes and wash-outs, arriving at the frontier in the late afternoon. Leaving South Africa, a border guard offered us a "special deal" on Botswanan currency. We demurred. Botswana immigration and customs and fees were laborious if trouble free. We pulled into the Martin's Drift campground before dark and enjoyed a meal with the group at the restaurant there.
Except for the mountains, the terrain varied little

More outcrops too

Big-time agriculture here and there

Orange grove--fence to protect workers from predators

Fenced-in bananas

Crossing the mountains again

Finally, some Baobob trees, which I'd been looking forward to

In the beautiful Forever Resort

Ostriches on a reserve

Driving through Messina

The enormous Ventana gold mining complex

One of several mountains of tailings

Two hours to do 43k of this!

A German rig at Martin's Drift, Botswana

Circling the wagons...

Dinner at Martin's Drift