Monday, August 27, 2012

Botswana Cycle Trip - Day 23 - 29

Botswana Cycle Tour - The final 7 days...

Day 23
Part of our agreement with Ngepi's management on check-in was, that they organize us a lift back to the tar road through the 4km of thick sand, which they obliged to ...

Although after about 2km of tar road we hit some miserable dirt for the next 20 clicks to the border, through the Mahaungu Core area of the Bwabwata National Park.

We re-entered Botswana and enjoyed our last 3 or so km of tar road before reaching the Muhembo Ferry that crosses the Okavango River at the top of the pan handle. Fortuitously at the very moment of our arrival, the ferry docked for a quick 1½ hour service to the two engines, so we were forced to settle down under a Jackalberry tree for a lunch of deep fried bream and coke.

The fun and games really started as we pedalled off the ferry for the start of about 90km of corrugations, thick sand and potholes ... And since that was not enough to lift our spirits, a dash of head wind was added to the mix. We pedalled with 3 young guys on old bicycles (of varying shapes and sized), quickly learning through heat, sweat and near crashes just how to 'read' this really crappy dirt road. After 20km of this brain rattling fun we took an elephant path off the road to scratch out a campsite under some trees. Once again just after dark the gentle, but noisy giants put in their appearance.

Day 24
For our last day of cycling we had saved 71km of even more deteriorating dirt road ... What gave us a little boost of energy, apart from the cup of sugar we bought from Gertrude's Spaza shop, was twice being chased by packs of wild eyed, salivating 'village bitches' (ie: dogs) ... Forget steroids, there's nothing like the fear of being bitten by a rabid looking pack of canids, to get your performance up!

Following our encounter with the domestics we chatted with the local missionary from Seronga , a guy by the name of Willie, who offered us the use of his garden for camping. Turns out he also had hot showers and flush toilets - quite nice after 71km of dirt & sand where you actually enjoy the corrugated sections!!

Spent the late afternoon running important errands in the village of Seronga, like Johan getting his hair cut and picking up a strap of beef fillet for R12.92?! Ok, the butchery itself has room for improvement in terms of cleanliness and produce display etc ... But the meat was good.

Ended our last cycling day having a sundowner with Phillip (a Zimbabwean) on the cool shady steps of Mark's Bar - a shebeen across the road from Willie the missionary.

Day 25
For the last time we loaded and strapped our bikes for the 3km pedal to the jetty ... The thick Botswana sand had the last say - the final 500m was an exceptionally thick sandy push ...

Day 26 - 29
The last 5 days has been a treacherous haul through croc infested swamp, swarming with all manner of biting insects, murderous hippos around every bend, and nights filled with the horrific sounds of blood thirsty lion and hyena ...

Ok ... so there was also a boat loaded with cold beers, braai meat and fishing tackle! ... And the tiger fish and nemwe have been biting like they have never seen a lure before ... And the islands are filled with impossibly large trees and lush palms, but really, this Okavango Delta is no place for the faint hearted ... please stay well away!!

In all seriousness, Ian Clark has been a great guide on the Okavango Delta and knows this place like the back of his hand ... Tomorrow we arrive in Maun for our respective flights and drive back home ... And so ends an epic month.

Thanks Peter for taking the time and driving us to the start, and to Esna for uploading this blog over the last few weeks. Thanks to Anna-Lee, Petru, Lize and Cindy for keeping your eyes on the ball at work! ... And most importantly, Derynne and Jenny (our much better halves), I think we owe you one!!!

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