7th July 2011 W/P 764 South 23’ 17.997 East 031’ 38.027 Altitude 239mtrs
ALL COMES TO A GRINDING HALT………when the dung gets to big???
In stunned amassment we are stopped by a gate and large high wire fence. ……NO ENTRADA…..CLOSED…..NO….VEHICLES…….
The Limpopo Transfrontier was closed……Elayne is convinced we will need to turn back and I am in a rotten mood indeed. I am not going to give up we need to get through….How do you intend to leap over a high razor wire fence Elayne points out the obvious dilemma.
I scout the fence line and after a while I find a hole which we can pass through…the only problem is getting Victor through the scrub to the hole in the fence.
Elayne is not impressed with my antics and is clearly sitting my new enthusiasm out. I need the saw I shout out to Elayne who now thinks I have a touch of jungle fever….This is not a good idea Elayne exclaims NOBODY known’s we are here even if we get inside how do you know if we can get out the other side some 300klms through unmapped territory. I consult the GPS and nothing comes up.
I start cutting down small trees so as to position Victor in our foray into the unknown. Two down and a few more to go and Victor is fired up….Elayne is expressing her concern….Chris this is ridiculous we could land up seriously stuck and nobody around.
We had not seen anybody no guards, game rangers nobody, no tourists nothing. I started to think about the risks involved….I am sure all the animals have been eaten that’s why the Limpopo Transfrontier is closed its not worth coming to……my logic is sound and Elayne is giving me a very frowned look indeed.
Yours is bigger than mine!!!!
I press on with my tree felling and Victor is now into the park crossing through the hole into the unknown.
The track was great red sandy and we again were flying along deeper and deeper into complete isolation. Stopping for a bit to eat we take in the complete quietness nothing no animals just beautiful bush. Off and away we go still on a good track, Elayne coughs….look the GPS is showing a small dotted track and we are on it….sure enough the track was there and we were smack bang on it.
Camping with Lions
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Things looked up and Elayne tried her best to extend the GPs track but this was not possible as it looked as if it just went to the Limpopo River again. This was not good news but things got worse when we spotted some huge Elephant dung in the middle of the track……out we jumped and inspected the dung like experts we were not……is it fresh I asked Elayne thinking our recent 3 hr tracking experience was going to give us all the answers we needed.
How do I know Elayne replied bluntly …but for sure your brilliant hypothesis is completely disproven…..no animals the locals have eaten them all….and I feel for that explanation……
YIKES…..if there is elephants there could be everything else, lions, Rhinos……..its getting late we should look for a campsite the large dung playing with my thoughts and its possibilities.
Not long and we found an open grassy plain with tall straw like grass and small bushes giving us a clear view if anything was around.
It was a beautiful campsite on our own surrounded by beautiful scenery, vistas you could only find in a travel magazine or some TV travel show; I was pleased we had at least found a wonderful spot to sit back and enjoy that feeling of real freedom.
FREEDOM is it really free????? W/P 769 South 23’29.626 East 031’ 52.855
Elayne made supper and all went down well as we checked at latitude and longitude making sure we were at least heading in a direction which was making ground.
It felt strange, was this track going to last the distance would it be passable our thoughts unanswered we would just have to wait and see. Our position put us approximately 20klms North of the Tropic of Capricorn our heading still S/East about 10klms from the Singuedxi River this being an option to drive along the dried out river bed which would take us in the right direction.
Just think Elayne remarks 150klms to the East and we could be in Phalaborwa and having a few Springboks with Paul and Anita, sure enough that would be right but crossing all that way on foot would be suicidal I really think we would be on the menu.
Just as we were taking in the last few morsels enjoying the setting sun and little birds hopping through the bushes a HUGE ROAR>>>>>AAAARRARRGH <<<<<AAAARRRRAGHHH…..we jumped to our feet and it soon became very evident we could be on the dine out for the locals …..We rapidly moved within Victors parameters grabbing my machete , catapult, shovel, some small rocks for the catapult and headed for the secure surroundings of our canvass walls……Don’t let it be said Elayne remarks….I TOLD YOU SO……..how could I have been so stupid and think all the animals had been eaten……This is not safe Chris …Elayne having our last pee for the night close to our tent entrance I am going to let the boys know how stupid you really are…..The Lions roar again coming closer ….can you see them I ask Elayne as I try and pick something out along the tall grassy edge to our safe camp!!!!! NO Elayne replies but I can say categorically they can see us……that last comment from Elayne was surely true indeed. The fact was the sun had set the evening light was glowing low and I was not about to shine our spot light around just to see if I could see them…its better I don’t the thought flashes through my mind …you know if you hid your head in the sand.
Up in the tent things did not improve ….what if we are parking on their spot Elayne exclaims what if you have managed to pick the spot the lions out here call home??………all was not looking good and this was not touristville, us parked behind some huge safe fence enjoying a glass of red and some beautifully cooked buck with the South Africans.
Thank God we have only some tinned fish and vegetables, rice and mealie meal on board, I explained to Elayne they won’t be interested in that stuff….but don’t forget the main course Elayne remarked…me in my completely stunned state….what main course I asked Elayne….US…you idiot Us……….surely we are the main course for the local’s.
It all sunk in and the reality of camping wild in a wild place suddenly takes on a different meaning when you are on the menu!!!!!…no weapon, no communication, it all feels a lot more dangerous than a few drunks passing by, or even the arid Australian outback!!!!!(Give me a Roo any day)
Sure its easy to say I was the idiot who landed us in this mess but the thoughts of being attacked by a large Lion was not the type of thought you put your head down for a wonderful nights sleep.
I could not sleep listening to every sound emanating from the total silence all around us. The sky full of beautiful stars some shooting across the horizon in a blazing fashion just stunning, I dosed off my face tightly tucked under my sleeping bag the temperature dropping to freezing point and I felt cold.
The roars went on for and they seemed to be getting further away so fingers crossed and a few prays we hoped they have moved away.
Daylight strikes our tent and I wake to another morning all my limbs are still intact and a slow sigh of relief as I peek outside the tent…..busting for a pee I am very aware the locals could be close by.
Elayne soon follows behind me also busting for a pee and keeping a sharp look out for the lions.
Nothing not a sound, but breakfast will have to wait lets push on I suggest, and the thought of breaking down now feels pretty woeful.
The fourth tree on this track blocking our path, the Acacias worse with their very long Thorns our rubber CV’S being a target.
Victor must be kept in one piece at all cost’s no risks to the well being Victor will have to get us out of here.
It was not long before things got worse the track split in two we opted to take the track favouring the river thinking if all else fails we could drive along the river bed. The track becomes terrible and the acacia bushes are 2-3 feet high in the middle of the track …nobody has been here for several years nobody??? The track has become almost faint depression which is becoming more and more difficult to follow.
We started to drop down as I watched the altimeter and GPS intensely thinking we may be heading for the Singuedxi River.
Singuedxi River looking towards South Africa
Singuedxi River Reserva de Transfronteriras Great Limpopo
Victor is groaning under the strain spanning large rocks wheel to wheel but the acacia bushes have become to many and to thick posing a real threat to our Cv’s boots…there is only one solution I needed to get out and cut down the acacia bushes by hand with my machete.
Elayne was not looking forward to driving Victor on a tough off road track with me outside away from the main profile of Victor waving my arms madly at the hardy vegetation….but there was no option…but how far would I need to be chopping down thorny bushes.
VIDO1 1490 ***********************
I cleared at least 2klms before things got better then again things got worse and I was back out chopping away.
Finally we are at the bottom of a riverbed and the track had completely deteriorated to large boulders but where is the track gone!!!!!
I look up …and it becomes painfully clear our accent was going to be very difficult indeed as the track was heading up the side of a deep cutting out of sight.
There is no way I can drive Victor up this unmarked track full off large boulders risking the potential of breaking something. I will need to drive as hard as I can to try and get Victor up this cutting.
I will need Elayne to walk following me up …she is not looking forward to this as we have just spotted large cat prints fresh in the sand crossing the dried out river bed ascending the same track as us.
Something else is around ……….
I am not sure if I am doing the right thing but the video Elayne takes gives a small insight into how rough it was for Victor to get out of the mess I had put us all in, and my thought of Elayne being taken from the side of this track by a cat ….how would I feel if this happens, how would I live with my actions, this is not easy and all could go very wrong very quickly.
I am not feeling that well with my decision but I cannot risk breaking Victor, and Elayne is going to find it difficult for her to drive Victor out of this mess.
Elayne arms herself with the machete, video camera! And high voltage zapper a present from Bez Bezuidenhout ,as welcome to South Africa, and slowly walks up the boulders.
I take another look around and find no other solution to my dilemma the scenery is dried out vegetation tall grasses alongside the upward track with thick trees
I rev Victor to gain some desperately need torque and let fly with the clutch, it is hard to describe trying to gain some traction on large unstable boulders keeping my foot poised over the clutch as Victor struggles to move up and down thump, thump, the suspension trying to soak up the ciaos beneath the tyres. I slip the clutch I have no option trying to maintain some engine revolutions.
I finally crest the steep boulder track Victor hopping up and down like some demented Kangaroo, the dust all around me as I jump out looking back down trying to see Elayne.
I can’t see her dust obscures my view as I hobble over the boulders why Victor idles catching his breadth.
Elayne I call out our KoooooooWeeee…….KooooooWeeeee I hear Elayne KooooWeeee Back….thank God she is still alive nothing has eaten her yet.
Terrible thoughts rush through my mind as I recall our Alaskan part of our journey when Elayne was reading a book about a Scientist working in the far North with his girlfriend, working very closely with the Grizzles…… he was videoing his work when he was attacked and eaten, all captured on his recorder….YIKES a cold shiver runs down my spine.
Elayne makes it to the top sobbing and upset that I driven off not waiting for her……it was a tough time and my entire fault. Victor smelt terrible his clutch red hot and smoke pouring from the bell housing that was not what I wanted to see. ( Elayne said we should get out of here as fast as we could as she had seen heaps of foot prints and fresh ones at that )
It all ends well…except I burn Victors clutch to the point the smell lasts a week after, a sickly smell like burnt hair that almost refuses to disappear.
The scenery is stunning we climb another track this time I keep Elayne with me not wanting to repeat the last anxious moments.
The view across the Singuedxi river is breath taking the game below shading themselves under the green trees along the dried out riverbed…..I call out to Elayne to come and join me at the cliff top to take in a superb view ,a real African postcard.
The game bolt after I called out to Elayne to join me the whole scene is unbelievable as I watch bucks of all types scatter across the veldt. The dust rises as the game drive across darting from cover to cover I can see all from our cliff.
Elayne and I decide to place our travel card in a sealed plastic bag and place under a small stack of rocks. We mark the spot on our GPS hoping our boys will one day pass along this same route.= to find our message and take in this wonderful vista.
Have a Look under the rock Adam and Tristan…………..????
Who knows someone else my find our message and hopefully they contact us it would be a real buzz either way, like a message in a bottle who would not like to find one of those!!!
VIDO1 1506, 1515************************
Meeting the Local Children
Camping in the Limpopo Trans Frontier
WE make it out of the Limpopo Trans Frontier………….just