Stage 64 (45): Kasane to Pandamatenga
Rain had stopped by the time we got up; and the hyaena had gone away as well. Everything outside very wet of course. At some point during the night, I’d found my headlamp, which makes life so much easier in packing up in the dark, etc.
I found my riding kit where I’d left it in the showers to dry after a cursory wash; well, the shorts had fallen to the floor. But they’re dry enough to pull back on and I go with that.
We get away just as the sun breaks the horizon; back track the 6 km or so to the t-intersection and turn south toward Nata. The only noticeable climbs of the day come very early and see us riding up out of the Zambezi valley onto what will be the order of the next several days - essentially flat, except for minor rises from time to time. I think these little rises reflect old valley benches, or old beach stands, but I’m not positive about that by any stretch.
As this road is referred to in the guide books as the elephant highway, of course we’re trying to remain attentive. Not easy on these long, flat sections with relatively thick bush on either side. It’s Mary who makes the first spotting; a lone adult disappearing back into the bush from the clearer verge. I catch only the barest glimpse of its rump as it drifts serenely away. A bit later when the bush is more savanna-like, we see a whole herd, although at quite a distance. David and I finally spot another lone adult, this time in an open grassy expanse; that large grey boulder we were wondering about is indeed moving and flapping its ears. Not a boulder, after all.
Other than a herd of impala crossing the road way behind us at the lunch break, that’s about it for the wildlife. Once again though, lots of birds (many which I sort of recognize, but certainly can’t retrieve the respective names). We do see a beautiful barn owl fast asleep beside the road; I think a victim of the overnight traffic.
Surprising maybe, but the roads have all been noticeably absent of road kill. I wonder if predators and the natural clean-up crews like hyaena and jackals on the one hand, and the vultures and storks on the other, just do too good a job in that department?
It was broken cloud cover for much of the ride so fortunately never got hot hot. And with no coke stops in which to while away work stoppages, we make camp about 12:30.
Panda Rest Camp - civilized with a bar/restaurant, somewhat murky swimming pool and working wifi. Plenty of time to rest, even wash out the riding kit (properly this time) in a laundry tub and hang it out securely to dry. Find time to squeeze in a single beer at the very nice bar, too.
Boerwurst (sp?) from the braai with grilled veggies and yams; real hot chocolate with marshmallows for dessert. What are the odds they’re prepping us for the two hard days to follow?