Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Pumbe to Shilowa via Olifants Rest Camp. (Approximately 90km)

Alarm call today courtesy of the Pearl Spotted Owl which started calling at 05:10 and just would not stop.  Normally Caron loves the calls of the morning, but not today.  Today, if Caron could have found the Pearl Spotted Owl it would have been fricasseed owl.  After the long day yesterday everyone was looking forward to a easier day and, hopefully, no breakdowns nor punctures.

Easy driving. Photo courtesy of Amanda

We are starting to get into the swing of things and everyone was ready to go at 06:30 and the day was very easy driving even thought there were plenty of occasions when we used low range but it was more for comfort rather than because the conditions mandated it.  As we drove we could see the vegetation slowly changing and our first stop was a dry pan which is home to two species of fish which is pretty hard to believe given that the pan looks like below.  The species are called Killi and Lung fish and are able to bury themselves in the mud and depress their metabolism to such a degree that they can last years under the sun baked mud.


Arriving at Olifants rest camp there was a rush for the showers but we made for the restaurant and had a cup of coffee which I wrote up this diary.  It's a funny thing keeping a travelogue because it takes about 30 minutes per day but to find 30 minutes where one can just be on one's own and quiet and not too tired like at the end of a hard day is quite difficult so I snatch it when I can.  It is one thing that thinking back on the trip would be really nice; about an hour each day when one isn't driving or pitching/striking camp or making food and one can just sit and be quiet in the bush would really be great.  Returning from my cup of coffee I found that I had been parked in and had to go and find who the responsible party was and I ended up getting the restaurant staff to go from table to table; I thought they would have had a PA system and done it over that but it was a table to table affair.  The miscreant was a little indignant with me but I was less than cheerful that he was that inconsiderate.

View from the restaurant. Photo courtesy of Caron.

The view from the restaurant deck is definitely a must do in Olifants Rest Camp; it's spectacular!  After everyone other than us had showered and filled up with water and fuel and air we drove a short while and stopped in the middle of the low water bridge over the Letaba river which was nice but rather hot.  I think that Edward likes stopping there because there is lots of space to see any elephants, buffalo or crocodiles that may be lurking around.  Pieter put up his bat-wing wrap around awning which works really well except when there is a strong gust of wind so he ended up hanging onto the ends of the supports to prevent it flying away.

Letaba river for lunch.  Photo courtesy of Caron.

The thermometer in my car hit 43 deg. C this afternoon which is warm but I thought quite bearable although that temperature overnight would have me thinking differently.  The fences in this section have been taken down leaving only the railway tracks which were sunk vertically into the ground to indicate where the border is.  If they ever need to put up the fence again they will at least have the major posts still there and only have to re-lay the cable and wire mesh.

The last stop we had before arriving in the Shilowa campsite was on top of a small set of hills from which one could see far into Mozambique which looks exactly the same as Kruger; it really feels like one is in the monstrous uninhabited country rather than in a national park.  Shilowa campsite is magnificent and I could easly spend a day or two here under the big trees just relaxing; reading and enjoying the peace and quiet.  Supper was the usual braai and since there were so many braai designs on display it seems that the perfect design has yet to be found.  I made use of Pieters rather then unpacking my own and it worked really well with a very small number of coals so I may have to think again about which braai to use in the future but I think I may stick with the draai-braai for a while at least.  I had put our chairs on the one side of the fire and everyone else ended up on the other side and it felt a little like we were the show for the evening; it did make communication over the whole fireplace a little awkward but that is just how it goes sometimes.

Nice if VERY warm shower before bed at 20:30; fell fast asleep almost immediately.

The toilets in all the camps are some kind of composting toilet and, except for one, are relatively odorless and it is always nice to have real porcelain deep in the bush and it sure beats digging a hole.

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