Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Smashing Day In Botswana!

On safari in Africa, sometimes the day starts off so well- then just crashes around you, and yeah, it could all be going wrong but it turns out to be a day that is so crazy- so weird- that it becomes that great day in your life, remembered forever!! 

When Russell caught me in a damn weak moment
saying "Come on over Botswana way.
We're gonna convoy through the Kalahari desert.
And I'll be guiding all the way, little Jimmy,
You wanna ride along, you'll pay."

Volunteers with EHRA build rock walls around water points to stop desert elephants breaking down equipment, thus lessening conflict with local villagers and farmers. 

Kissed my little darling goodbye in a moment
and headed over Damaraland way,
where I built a wall in the desert so those ellies
can't bust those wells away- little darlings.
Stops the locals shooting them that way.

After 2 weeks with EHRA in Namibia I joined a 4WD safari from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls return.

Caught my passage as the shotgun rider
on a Hi-Lux from Johannesburg in May.
Up front I'm gunning with a great view
Hoping for a time to tell my little darling
If I ever do make it through!

On this incredibly chock-full, action-packed day we started the morning off with a mud-bogged vehicle! Then had to worry about deep sand  trails.

Fred and Liz were Tail-end Charlie in our convoy. Fred contributes a few verses-

"The guy driving this one- he knew his stuff

and with diff lock engaged he knew not to fluff
despite Russell in jeans all rolled up nice
the hero himself was through in a trice.

We were in soft sand and in quite a pickle

but where was Jim and the lead vehickle?
Long miles ahead as we eventually found
no eyes in their a*se and never looked round!

So poor Tail-end Charlie was stuck in the bush
until you eventually returned to give us a push.
Of course you all laughed and considered it funny
but by then Elizabeth badly needed the dunny!

Some guys just can't keep up! OK, we decided to go back and rescue Fred and Liz: we had to reverse 5-6 k's before we found them!
We found her a place all cool and shady
But this was no way to treat a nice lady
In the following camp as the day was dawning
We felt that travelling with Jim should have carried a Health Warning!"
By Fred!

Pitching along on those deep sandy trail ways,
ruts so deep we're polishing the pan.
Narrow bush track and dust up all around us
Just when a driver needs pay attention -little bastard!
Russell slams on to avoid the prang.

Russell saw a truck coming our way, and stopped - expecting the other driver on the same track to stop also so we could both manoeuvre past each other- BUT the truck driver wasn't looking where he was going - until TOO late. Whammo! 

An ex-army truck, heavy loaded with a trailer,
its driver busy talking to his friend
skids along and whacks us hard in a head-on!
You should have seen our front distend- oh yeah!
Crashed us back towards the bend.

At first the driver tried to blame us but backed off as all our team jumped out with digital cameras and videos, recording every moment of the incident. Luckily, Russell and I were uninjured. Still remember that driver's huge wide-open eyes when he finally saw us split seconds before impact. Our bull-bars absorbed the impact but still shoved our 4WD back 2 metres! On those sand tracks speeds are limited to 40-50 K's an hour, and as we had stopped it wasn't a high impact smash. 

Russell says "I got to drive and  report this
to the police station way back there in Maun.
Extra 300k's and it's gonnna be hard driving,
You guys carry on to Savuti- here's hoping
Maybe I'll meet you there by dawn!"

"Russell," I say "I'm gonna be there for you
That's a whole heap of driving all that way,
I can takeover when you want to get some sleep.
Got to help you out-as a friend.
This shotgun rider's gonna earn his keep."

150 extra kilometers to Maun ,then 150 back to the accident scene then 150 on to meet up with the other  4WD's.
Evening driving is dangerous as ellies are moving from feeding areas to water.

Been a long day driving since reporting
and evening sun builds shadows across the ground.

Deep sand with our undercarriage scraping

Then a whole bunch of ellies cross the track-big bastards

Heart stopping moments all around.

Unable to stop, as in the deep sand we would not have been able to start again, we had to vary our speed to skim around behind ellie butts as many crossed the track in front of, and behind us!

Hit Savuti camp and they knew we were late coming.
Walking in the darkness trying to see our way ahead.
"Russell, these prints are so fresh through the bushes,
Could be ellies up ahead- sneaky buggars.
Come across them and we're dead!"

Wandered round 'til we found our friends' bush camp
Looking for a welcome from our friends.
"What you guys doing walking around in the dark for?
There's 4 lions prowling the camp!- Silly bastards!"
Just right then I could really have done with that shotgun!

4 lions were prowling the darkness in the bush camp when we were walking around in the pitch black with just head-torches trying to find our 2 other 4wd's and safari mates. Luckily, the lions had made a zebra kill just 100 metres from our camp- that kept them busy and their bellies full! We must have walked very close by them in the dark.
Elephants were in the bushes- in fact our companions were seated under a large shade tree enjoying gin and tonic, late afternoon waiting for us to turn up when a huge bull elephant walked up and started tusking bark off the tree they were sitting under!



Lily Trotter said...

Moat of this is genuine folks, the prang, the Lions and even teh odd ellie moment.
But that picture of the Bogged down vehicle is "poetic licence".
There was a bogged down vehicle but:-
"the guy driving this one knew his stuff,
and with diff lock engaged he knew not to fluff,
Despite Russell in jeans all rolled up nice,
The hero himself was through in a trice."
Keep em rolling Jim.

Jim said...

Ah, you noticed! Yes Fred, I never got pics of the bogged vehicle but used the pic of your vehicle coming through! I'm sure you'll excuse me for that! And being able to show Russell with his sleeves rolled up is a bonus!
I have left out the trials of trying to report the crash to the police and being fluffed around by them as don't want any bother between them and Russell.

Jim said...

BTW I won't mention the second bogged vehicle ...with the guy who knew his stuff.....LOL.

Lily Trotter said...

That we got stuck I will not deny,
and we could not get out however hard we did try,
We were in soft sand and in quite a pickle,
but where was Jim and the lead Vehikle?
Long miles ahead as we eventually found,
No eyes in their Ar$e and never looked round.
So poor Tail end Charlie was stuck in the Bush,
until you eventually returned to give us a push.
Of course you all laughed and considered it funny,
but by then Elizabeth badly needed the Dunny.
We found her a place all cool and shady,
But this was no way to treat an old lady.
In the following Camp as the next day was Dawning,
We felt that travelling with Jim should have a Health warning!

Jim said...

LOL! I gotta add that to the above !

photos by jan said...

Wonderful stories you tell...Love the photos the elephant is so grand. Glad you didn't get eaten by those lions you didn't