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Author Topic: School Reunion - Okavango Edition  (Read 3900 times)

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Offline Xpat

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2017, 06:59:34 pm »
Day 6 - 19th Paralel to Xakanaxa camp in Moremi NP

Next day the plan was to make it to the North Gate in Khwai village, leave bikes at the gate and go for safari into Moremin NP, with sleepover in one of my favourite places - Xakanaxa camp deep in the Okavango delta. As it was only about 70 km of what we expected to be easy dirt ride to Khwai, we had a lazy morning, taking our time with breakfast and breaking the camp.

Once packed we got going. Seeing that the cutline was quite dry except for few mudholes in the centre we decided to risk the Savuti swamp and continued on the cutline. It was about 20 km of easy and fast riding (upwards of 100 kmh) till the end of the cutline. The bush gradually thinned out and the end of cutline was slap bank in the middle of what seemed to be reasonably dry grassy plain, with spots of black cottom mud showing through here and there.

It was strange how a well maintained wide cutline that run more or less straight for the last 100 km just suddenly ended up in the middle of the nowhere about 3- 4 km before connecting to the next road at Mababe gate. We could actually see communication tower indicating Mababe gate few km straight ahead, which made it seem doubly weird. We had two options. Either take barely visible winding double track heading for the Mababe gate few km away across big open spots of mud, where we would hit the main dirt road connecting Mababe gate with Mababe village about 20 km away. Or turn south and head straight for Mababe village on a little bit more pronounced double track crossing the grassy plain of Mababe depression. The first option was shorter, so I first went for walking reconnaissance of the track heading for the gate. I turned back very quickly - the cottom mud was super slippery and had difficulties just walking 20 meters there and back. The south heading track seemed a bit better as the trecks were a bit deeper and there was plenty of grass around, which I hoped will give the mud a bit more surface strength.

So we turned south and set-off. While - despite all of the rains - this was still more a plain than swamp, we came to understand very quickly why people avoid this place. It was supper slippery and the grass provided just false sense of security within km or two I have wiped out once and Milan P twice - despite the fact that we had proper offroad tyres, on which I have year and a half before crossed 160 km of completely flooded Makgadikgadi pans without single spill. That cotton mud was just brutal, turning the tyres into the circles of muddy slickness with knobs burried desperately under. We proceeded slowly flailing our legs in very undignified way, until we figured out that it was easier to ride over grass at a bit of speed that allowed tyres to clean themselves. Once we figured that out, progress got steadier, albeit still slow. About half way through the marsh we came upon huge herd of buffalos (my uneducated guess would be at least 200 pieces) grazing slap bang on our path. We stopped and sent the drone ahead to assess the situation. It did its job, and the buffalos moved slowly away from the track.

After about half an hour, once most of them moved off to the side we set-off again and the bikes did the good job chasing away the rear guard that was still hanging about the track. We pushed in in the same slow and steady mode stoping here and there for the rest.

About 7 km out of Mababe village the swamp finally stopped and we were back into the bush (though with lots of standing water in the mudholes), where we bumped into two elephants grazing about.

After few pictures we pushed on and made it to Mababe village, where we hit the main dirt road heading to Khwai village about 35 km away. We made it to Khwai with just few stops to take pictures of hippos and elephants. In the village we stopped at the neat shop at the beginning of the village. The place was run by two dedicated sisters and it was quite uplifting to see how with a little initiative they can make big difference in a remote community where people usually just rely on government dough. The place was neat - including potted plants placed in nearby termite mound, well stocked and they even made their own delicious fatcakes (which we bought all of). The lady even wore a hairnet - very impressive for this cynic who have seen too many dead end places where people just gave up and didn't care anymore.

We had our fill of beers, soft drinks and fat cakes and then proceeded km or so to the Moremi North Gate at the southern end of the village, across the Khwai river. Typical Khwai river scenes:

We asked the lady in the park office if we can leave our bikes there for a day. She wasn’t thrilled trying to use possible theft as deterrent (a thing that I wasn’t worried about the least), but rugged smelly charm of Milan P and myself (you have seen the picture at the beginning of the report - right?) prevailed and she agreed that we can leave the bikes parked next to their barracks. We then had to rearrange the car - throw all of the luggage from the back of the car cabin to the bin to give Milan P and me space inside, and set off.

We headed west towards Xakanaxa campsite deep in the Okavango delta about 70 km away. On the way we took many of the small tracks looking for animals - here is what we found:

We made it to Xakanaxa just as the sun was setting down. In the office next to the bush airport there were just rangers saying they are not responsible for the campsite - the lady responsible was somewhere in the camp about 2 km away and we should just find her there (the camps have been privatised few years ago and are not managed by NP now). Se we drive to the camp that was surprisingly almost full (we have noticed on North Gate that we were the first vehicle to cross that day - something I have never seen before and I have been there few times, when it was always pretty busy). We found empty camping site and set-up a camp. I walked around the campsite looking for the lady, but she was nowhere to be found. Long story short - we tried one more time next morning, but no luck either, so we scored free night in one of the most sought after campsites in Okavango delta. Privatisation all the way.

We were even able to bump a gas bottle from SA guys there on two 4x4s (as I said, valve on ours got busted by idiot at Builders Warehouse in Kasane, so we were relegated to cold dinner night before) and enjoyed warm pasta for dinner. After another prolonged and inconclusive fireside discussion, we hit the tents.

Offline Xpat

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2017, 10:56:35 pm »
Day 7 & 8 - Xakanaxa to Maun

Next morning after breaking the camp we went for a game drive through my favourite wildlife area of them all - the tracks deep in the delta between Xakanaxa and Third Bridge campsites. We had to be back at the gate by 11:00, so it was way too short, but I still enjoyed the drive.

Once the time was up we retraced back to North Gate, where we spent hour in mid day sun scraping by now dried up cottom mud off the bikes. Prior day we were in the hurry to get into park, and the mud from Savuti marsh has hardened almost into concrete. With that done, we geared up and set-off for chilled ride back to Maun about 150 km away on the main dirt road running through Mababe village on the eastern boundary of Moremi NP. We stopped for another bout of shopping in our favourite shopping spot in Khwai village, where we again bought out all the fat cakes and I left a jerry can with petrol there, as I was coming back few days later for the attempt at circumnavigation of the delta.

The ride back to Maun was pretty straightforward and as always on that road we bumped into number of elephants. The only annoyance were the bad corrugations - the worst I have ever seen here. So we gunned it as fast as possible to smoothen out the vibrations.

When the bike section reached tar about 40 km out of Maun, the car which usually kept pretty close was nowhere to be seen. We waited wth Milan P for a long time, getting increasingly worried and eventually I jumped on the bike and went back to see what happened.

I rode at least 15 km before I got to them crawling at about 30 km. Milan V told me that they started getting worrying bangs from the suspension and had to slow down to avoid those. Not a good news, but the car was working, albeit slowly so I told them to try to make it to the tar as there was nothing we could do there.

Once they made it to the tar I jumped into the car to see what is what. On tar there was nothing out of order so we went back for a short drive on dirt and withing 100 meters I found the culprit: the roof rack front brackets on both sides were broken. Which was a huge relief as I didn't fancy trying to get broken dif or something fixed in Maun.

We took the spare wheel off the roof rack (it was lose - got loosened over time from the vibrations and that probably contributed/caused the break) and dropped into the bin, then we strapped the roof rack to the car through the doors and we drove remaining 40 km to Audi campsite without further accidents.

We booked into the same tents that we had at the beginning and then went for farewell swim, dinner and round of drinks.

Next day was a departure day for B team - they had a flight at about 1pm. So in the morning they packed up, we loaded photos on each other computers and Milan V with David went for a try run on 500 as they never rode bike before. After that we loaded up their luggage into Hilux and I drove them to the airport, where they boarded their coach to Joburg and then further on to Prague.

Overal it was a very good trip. They really enjoyed it and I was glad that everything went more or less smoothly. This was my 4th trip in Africa with Milan P, and on all the prior trips we run into problems (bike on fire, car problems, and the worst -  Milan fell off Tenere at about 100 kmh about 15 km out of Epupa Falls, luckily resulting only in bruises), so ending this one with only broken roof rack was a stellar success. But of course the most important was that they really enjoyed it and we already started talking about next trip to Kaokoland.

Offline Osadabwa

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« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2017, 08:17:14 pm »
Awesome man... so are you on your way up North to see us???


Offline Xpat

Re: Nice
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2018, 12:02:10 pm »
Awesome man... so are you on your way up North to see us???


Thanks bud  :thumleft:

I have reconsidered the Kenya ride. I came back from Bots about week late right before the Christmas and wouldn't be able to get anything sorted until after New Year and even then it would take a week or two at least. So I would have just 2,5 months to get up there and back and I feel that is too little to ride the tracks I want to ride (not just there but getting there and back). It would turn into too much of a pressure cooker or I would have to give up on many good bits (which usually take time to do). And I'm not super athlete and would inevitably take quite a lot of rest along the way to recover and also enjoy some places properly

I have few things outstanding that I still want to do in southern Africa (heading to Mozambique this week), that I have attempted before and failed (like that Okavango delta circumnavigation I have finally managed to do on this trip - that write up is still coming) and would like to tick off before I have to start looking for a job again.

So I just decided to focus on riding down here and try to make most of it. Thanks again for your help with the tracks in Tanzania - I'm sure a chance will come up again in the future to have a look at your neck of woods  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 12:08:23 pm by Xpat »

Offline DirtRebell

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Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2018, 01:39:13 pm »
man oh man, what lekker report this is!
Thanks for taking the time and sharing.

Offline NoRush

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2018, 03:22:05 pm »
Nice RR Xpat. Photos that capture the soul of Africa.  :thumleft:

Offline Straatkat

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2018, 08:51:37 pm »
Can you imagine these guys living in Europe and coming here for a holiday and being treated to the best Africa has to offer! I bet they cannot stop talking about it!
Sommer gets to ride a 500 KTM too. They are very privileged.
18 till I die.
If hard work pays, show me rich donkey.

Offline Xpat

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2018, 10:45:19 pm »
Can you imagine these guys living in Europe and coming here for a holiday and being treated to the best Africa has to offer! I bet they cannot stop talking about it!
Sommer gets to ride a 500 KTM too. They are very privileged.

Yes Bertie, they really enjoyed and that in itself makes all the hassle that comes with organizing trip like this worth it. As I said, they are keen on the next logical destination - Kaokoland, and I'm happy to facilitate that (and as we discussed - get your leg sorted so that we can go soon as well).

As said, I'm heading for another trip, so I will finish the part 2 - i.e. my circumnavigation of Okavango delta - only once I'm back in a about 2 - 3 weeks. Thanks for following and comments.  :thumleft:

Offline armpump

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2018, 08:41:14 am »
Thanks for sharing again!

Be safe

Offline Xpat

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #29 on: January 03, 2018, 12:57:54 am »
Here is a little teaser for part 2:

Offline armpump

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #30 on: January 03, 2018, 07:58:48 am »

Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #31 on: January 05, 2018, 04:11:27 pm »
Excellent as always.

1978. It's 6am, mid winter...two up on a XL 185S ... off to my first casino ever with all of R40 and we've got a full tank of fuel, so enough to get there we reckon.... that's determination...

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Offline Rouxman

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #32 on: January 05, 2018, 06:36:19 pm »
Here is a little teaser for part 2:

Sjoe!! Goeie brieke op daai bike!!

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Offline Sheepman

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #33 on: January 05, 2018, 08:18:57 pm »
Brilliant  ;) Pics say it all !

Offline Xpat

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2018, 04:53:13 pm »
Here is a video David made from the trip. It is in Czech, but not too much spoken word, so one can focus just on video.

Offline armpump

Re: School Reunion - Okavango Edition
« Reply #35 on: March 20, 2018, 12:06:54 pm »
Very cool ,drone video sure has changed the way video is done.

Thanks for sharing.