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The Bolts of Botswana

BOTSWANA | Sunday, 22 April 2012 | Views [1124]

Crossing the Kasungular Ferry - Zambia to Botswana

Crossing the Kasungular Ferry - Zambia to Botswana

It was an adventure trying to cross the Zambesi from Zambia to Botswana; we had been waiting for the Kazungular Ferry for hours after being scammed of a few thousand kwacha more than we should have paid. We were keen to get to the other side and the men selling cans of coke came by often enough to keep the boys and I happy.

We loaded our massive 4WD that had been home, transport and weather protection onto the ferry and enjoyed the slow glide into Botswana. On reaching Kasane, we found the last available camp spot in a hotel at the end of the road. I don’t recall sleeping that night due to a rowdy bogan party and no management on site - but I do recall the relief of leaving the following morning and heading to Chobe National Park.

The drive through the first gate was magic. A majestic elephant herd crossed our path stopping on the road for almost an hour allowing us to take a million photos. The elder snorted in the red sand before leading the troop back into the bush. A few stray bulls ran toward us before following their families.

Zebras grazed in the distance with springboks and impalas.

We hadn’t booked any accommodation in the Park and tried our luck at the first stop, Serandela. Unfortunately for us the campground was full and we were forced to try the second camp spot a few hours drive south. Tired and exhausted, we reached Savuti and were told they were also full - and after arguing that there were no other vehicles and the gates were a nights drive away, we were allowed to set up for the night.

We’d hardly slept for 24hours, and we were so grateful to be stopping for the night without any more bogans around us.

It didn’t take long to set up camp - our tents were on the roof of our car, a simple pull of the ladder and we were basically set for the night. We pulled the brai (BBQ) off the back tyre and starting gathering small logs for our fire. A feast of steaks and salads were a prelude to the magic lightning show we could see in the distance, the night was fast becoming black and it was time to sleep.

We knew this area was well known for hyenas and we warned the boys to stand on the ladder if they needed to pee in the middle of the night, making sure one kept an eye on the other. We’d heard of a young child being taken by one not long ago. And as an emergency assistance professional, I had also come across cases from this region to know the dangers well enough.

During the night as the rain was providing a rhythm to sleep, we were woken by the sobbing of my smallest son. And then we heard the explosion. The lightning was getting very close, it was the other side of the Savuti channel and getting closer by the minute.

We were on top of a car. My children were in the tent beside us, also on top of a car. There was nothing around us, we would be the first thing the lightning bolt struck if it came any closer.

It was possible there were hyenas underneath us taking shelter from the storm, we were in a very difficult position of having to choose between the risks.

Remaining in the tent on top of the car was one choice. Getting down the steel ladder and into the car, possibly having to confront a hyena was another risk. We quickly decided on the latter.

Our little guy was apoplectic. Getting him into the car that night was probably harder than giving birth to him. But once he was down and inside the car, he was quickly consoled with a bar of chocolate we were saving for a “special” event. This was just the event to eat it!

We slept inside the car that night, watching the magic of the lightning strike the ground around us. We slept in a luxury hotel the next night!

Tags: botswana, camping, hyenas, lightning



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