Our morning started early when we heard thunder and wanted to get the tent closed before it started pouring down. We “gently” got reminded of the humidity in Botswana when we were soaking wet after packing up camp. Funny how even this cannot damper your enthusiasm when you know the rest of your holiday still lies ahead.
Our next stopover was Nata Lodge, Botswana. Although it is possible to drive from Palapye to Kasane (our third stopover) in one day, it is quite a long drive and we also wanted to see if there were any flamingo’s in the pans.
We left early from Itumela to allow enough time to visit the Nata Bird Sanctuary before checking in at Nata Lodge. However, the receptionist at the Bird Sanctuary advised us that there were no flamingo’s as the pans were dry and water was only now starting to flow in. She also said that the road to the Bird Hide (where we always stop) was in a very bad condition and that not even Nata Lodge personnel stopped doing trips to the hide as they got stuck a few times. We decided not to try and get through to the Bird Hide but to proceed to Nata Lodge – we would try and see if the flamingos were in the pans on our way back to Pretoria.
Funny enough, it was raining all the way to Nata. Water was definitely slowly but surely flowing into the pans. At the sides of the main roads, dams of water could be seen everywhere. It is always a relief to see rains – especially because at times Francistown had no water for days. The recent and still ongoing drought affected many parts of the African continent.
Oh, before we forget – if you are planning on driving through Francistown on your way north, work in some extra hours into your trip. Major roadworks and renovations take up A LOT of time. A new bridge is also being built, which in time will alleviate some of the traffic, but for now, it is mostly causing havoc. We spent the better part of almost an hour struggling through morning traffic.
We booked in at Nata Lodge and proceeded to the campsite. As we entered the campsite Pieter noticed a familiar looking overland camper. It was Mark and his wife from Germany whom we have met on our previous trip to Malawi in 2015 at Pioneer Camp in Lusaka, Zambia. They were on their way to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa but had to stay over in Botswana until 2017 as they had already used all the days (90) that they were allowed to be in South Africa for 2016.
At first Mark did not recognise Pieter – and after some extensive explaining, I stepped in and said “I showed your wife on the map of Malawi where the nice places were”. Out of the camper a voice came: “Yes, I remember, you showed me the Tracks4Africa map”. It was Mark’s wife and she still remembered.
We were able to help them with directions and advise as to which camps in the Kgalagadi we thought would be best to visit. They were also curios as to the road conditions and if their camper would be able to get into some of the places. Small world indeed … I cannot help but wonder if going forward, we are again going to meet up at some other place during our travels.
It was a long and tiring day. We ate some leftovers that we bought from home, showered and headed to bed. Again, thunder was to be heard and rain was in the air.