Our first stop in the true African wilderness
Koro River Camp – Tuli Block
Warming up in the sun, a little breeze and listening to the many many different bird songs around me. My view is on an almost dried up Limpopo river with some impalas grazing in the background. We woke up this morning by the sounds of baboons jumping and playing around on the roof of our tent. Yes, we are finally in the wilderness of Africa.
After the few weeks of semi-stress to get our 4×4 car bought and fixed (for more detail, see this blog), we could finally take her for a real drive. We left Gaborone early, the morning of the 51st Independence Day of Botswana. As Independence Day is a national holiday, we realized we did not have the best timing with doing our bulk shopping the day before. Especially the liquor store was filled up and we couldn’t move our ass or bump into someone! But patience is the key here in Africa, and after a few more queues, we were all set and ready to go. Our first stop, this beautiful place I am writing you from, is the Koro River Camp in Tuli Block just at the border with South Africa. This is where Sander Vissia (friend and co-car-owner) works and does his research. And it is amazing here! If you’re interested, visit their website: www.the-african-experience.com.
He sent us the route description when we were in the last village with reception, in other words, just in time. Here’s what we got: drive to the end of the tar road, then turn right onto the gravel road. Follow this road until a dip where you can turn left, turn left. You’ll pass by a Lookout Point and a small waterhole. And here, we are as surprised a you are when we actually spotted the Lookout Point! We did not see a small waterhole though, so we weren’t entirely sure we were on the right track. Anyway: ‘after this just take a right at every cross-section you’ll see and then you’re there’. Okay, so there was a final part to these instructions, but here he missed to mention one cross-section where we had to go left. Fortunately, this cross-section was next to the tents of Koro River Camp, so we thought we’d arrived. We got out, and as soon as we left the car, Lars was sick! Two very nice guys from the staff got us where we actually had to go, which was at Koro Island Camp some 10 minutes away. And as soon as Lars was shown the bed, him and his fever went to sleep.
This camp wasn’t named Island camp for nothing, to get here you cross a hanging bridge. The tents have decks that are directly to the river (beautiful!), and there is a building with a communal kitchen and dinner room. After I brought all our food and bags over to the island, the kitchen is where I made my ‘lonely’ dinner. I did not feel lonely at all, in fact, I probably would have preferred to feel a bit more lonely… Let me explain; it gets dark here around 6 pm and there was no electricity at this camp (coincidentally). So I had my dinner in an open building, on my own, in the dark, with a very noisy wind that confused all my senses, and possible wild animals around me. That makes you’re fantasy run wild! And that while I know the chance of something happening is close to zero compared to being in town!
The next day we had a slow, relax start, waking up on our deck while watching all the animals. Lars was feeling a bit better and his fever had gone down. I organized all the camping equipment we had chucked in the car the days before (we had been in a hurry). In the afternoon we went down to the River Camp and had some fun with our camera. We finished the day with a classical braai (African bbq), together with Sander, Jurgen and one of the local in habitants of the island, Janice the genet! This very cute but sneaky racoonlike animal showed up to finish our leftovers! In fact, it grabbed the meat right from Sander his hands.
That night we woke up several times, and every time we opened our eyes there were kudu and impala browsing within 2 meters from us! We woke up early in the morning (they were still there), because we would go search for a hyena den, information necessary for Sander’s research. We parked the car near a Koppie (small hill of stones) and went walking. I spotted two hyena’s running past us in the general direction where we headed. However, the two dens we came across had a large amount of bones, but no fresh tracks; they were abandoned. We climbed one of the largest Koppies in the area hopeful of spotting a hyena, but mostly just for the beautiful view of the area. From here we could see elephants, zebra’s and wildebeest, but no hyena’s.
Walking back we got pretty hungry, so we went back for breakfast. Then we visited one of the neighbouring farms, which was about 1,5 hours drive because you can only drive about 35 km/h on these roads, so it was pretty much a middle of the day game drive. We planned on going for a drive in ‘the Golden Hours’, which is between 5 and 7 pm, but the car had other plans. While driving back to get some food we got a flat tire! After some tries, we had to walk back to camp because the jack in the game vehicle was shit. Than Sander (hero!) finally managed to change the tire and we were off again. TSSJJJJJZZZ…. Nope we weren’t. The car did not start! It was actually pretty funny, we got the ‘car in the bush’ experience all at once. So we jumpstarted the car by pushing it (after several tries and a lot of hard work), and then we were off! By now it was pretty much passed those golden hours. So we just went back and cooked a delicious Mexican wrap meal.
And that brings us to today! This afternoon we will try and get the car seats out (while I’m typing I’m looking at two baboons playing with each other), and sort out all the paperwork of the car, for which we need to go to town with Sander. We will try our jack and the air compressor, see if it all works. And then maybe, just maybe, we will be able to do a “Golden Hour” game drive today! But I have learned one thing so far, it is better not to expect anything here in Africa and instead just accept how things work out!
We couldn’t do the game drive yesterday (what a surprise), but we did one today! We had company of Andrew Kruger, a very experienced game driver, and his wife Amy. This morning they had found wild dogs with 10 (!) pups. So we went back to the same place. Now, I have never seen wild dogs before so I was very excited! And Andrew has a way of calling carnivores, which of course we have been practicing ever since, he can make the sound of a wildebeest in distress. It took a little while, but all of the sudden we saw four wild dogs coming our way! There was one beautiful female with a lot of white on her coat. It was amazing! They didn’t come real close until it was darker, but fortunately it was a full moon and we have very very good binoculars through which we could see them perfectly. So that was a beautiful ending to our well-deserved relax stay at Koro River Camp. And tomorrow we will drive towards the Kalahari Desert. So keep posted !
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