One night surrounded by bushfire …

For all of you who are following my travel post from my Africa safari – here is the next. 🙂

Right after we landed at Maun airport we got into the jeep again to continue our journey. Our driver was already waiting with the rest of our backpacks. We had approx 360 km to drive to get to the Lodge for that night. Carla managed it so that her and I were sitting in the first row of the jeep this time. Everyone was really tired from the short night and the morning experience with the elephants and the buffalo so literally everyone doze off in the car.

We stopped somewhere for a quick toilet break and we noticed the hot dry air and the dust. Approx 100 km away from our final destination for the day we saw more and more burned fields left and right of the street. We also saw still burning fires in the distance …. with every kilometer we drove we realised our lodge will be right in the middle of all those fires … the dry wind was spreading the fire very quickly …. we had to drive even through some fire left and right of the street and we felt how hot it got in our car …..

Well …. that was not what we had hoped after all our adventure at the Okavango Delta! Bad feelings were coming up with everyone …. Rita was the first one talking. She was obviously already very stressed about the situation and felt anxious. She didnt want to stay and was trying to convince the driver that we need to drive through the night rather then stopping at the Lodge. Our driver continued completely unimpressed and turned right following the signs to the Lodge. The “street” was fully made by sand and grass right next to it. After a turn we had to stop as a herd of elephants were crossing … Ann was now the next one with a big scare! We and she in particular had enough adventurous experience with the elephants this morning. The closer we came we had two main findings: We could see and smell the smoke of the bushfires behind us and the Lodge had a waterhole right in the middle and centrum of all Safari Tents and Chalets and given the fires everywhere the waterhole was FULL of elephants!! The Lodge is called “Elephant Sands” –

Rita & Frederik insisted now more strongly that we should continue our journey as they felt not safe for the night. Our Guide and driver made clear that it would be also too dangerous to continue driving due to the state of the streets and the potholes. He would check with reception but we should relax and enjoy the experience with the elephants. We had to sign again a document that we stay on our own risk at the place and got our keys. My Safari tent was right opposite the main house and given the activities of the elephants people where driving us to our tents. Water in the tents would be shut down between 10pm and 5am to avoid that elephants would smell the water and woudl tear of the water container. My tent this time was high up and big but again very basic. Given the elephants I decided to quickly change my clothes and refresh myself so that I could make my way to the main building before it is completely dark – said and done I was back at the campfire with a cold beer in hand and watch the elephants.

Rita was not relaxed at all, the mood in general wasnt that great that evening. Everyone looked to the red sky in the distance … receptionists had told us that the fire was going on for three nights already and that it is watched and they would evacuate us if the fire would come too close. I overheard Rita saying to Ann that she doesnt want to die tonight and that she doesnt want to burn …. Ann tried to calm her down a bit but she could not relax. When they opened dinner we all sat down. This was probably the simplest food I had so far, some salad, some meat from the grill – that´s it. So we all had some food and some cold drinks before we got droven back to our tents.

In fairness I also wasnt fully relaxed. I didnt unpack my stuff at all and put already my clothes for next morning in place so that if they would evacuate us at night I could just pick up everything and leave. I could hear helicopter flying every 30 minutes – so that was probably what they meant by it is controlled ….. However I had a good nights sleep and when I woke up the next morning the sun was shining, the air was cleared and the ghosts of the day before had been gone ….

After some toasts with jam and coffee we continued our journey – destination for the next two nights: Chobe!! And hopefully less adventure ….


Ina T.

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