Meanderings During The Merry Month Of May
My favourite month by far, not too cold, not too hot, skies are bluer than blue and the landscape has changed into its autumn coat. With a very tight schedule and not many hours to spare we packed and readied ourselves to set off on a 3 week safari to Zimbabwe.
We were awake before the alarm could buzz us out of bed, on the morning of 30th April. Still wiping the sleep from our eyes we set off well before the cock’s crow. We saw the sun light up the Karoo skies when we stopped for breakfast in Beaufort West to have our “traditional” Wimpy Breakfast and gigantic frothy coffee. Here we met up with our friends and travel companions Chris and Marie. We were on holiday!
It was a hard and uphill push all the way to Johannesburg on our first leg, but, once we’d alighted our vehicles and refreshed we sat down to a great pizza and a good vintage red. We slumbered knowing we’d be heading into Botswana the next day. Platjan was our first boarder post, we were whisked through this quiet outpost on a breeze. We crossed the Limpopo river and to the merriment of the locals we were all teeth and gums posing for a selfie.
It had rained in the Kalahari, roads were filled with pockets of water everywhere. As a teaser a large parade of Elephant met us along the road, we weren't camera ready but managed to get one cheeky bachelor showing off.
Mashatu trees, monkeys and the magic of the bush awaited us on our second evening at Molema Bush Camp (managed and run by Tuli Wilderness for the local community) in the Tuli block. Rustic, down to earth and basic was exactly what we were expecting. We pitched our tents, set the table, lit the candles and with sighs of pleasure grinned and counted ourselves lucky to be there.
Three nights did the trick. The large campsite was spotlessly clean, the facilities are basic but who cares when the shower is hot and the pressure is on? The primitive gas geyser was efficient I almost whistled while I scrubbed and exfoliated.
The Moroccan Lamb Tagine was fragrantly spiced and flavours of North Africa filled the balmy air. Our campfire burnt well into the night as we sipped our coffees and broffies (coffee with a good dash of Brandy). Later, once we’d run out of conversation, we settled into our chairs and started listening to the night sounds and only then did we spot the fireflies.
My Precious has a mantra “Happy wife, happy life”. Unfortunately he forgot it when he packed the air mattress. As I gingerly lowered myself onto the very thin but firm air mattress my coccyx hit the earth. Our first night was going to be long and excruciating. When he threw himself down I bounced right off (he did the classic belly flop) legs a-kimbo and landed next to the “bed”. This did not auger well, but, we were in the bush. Without complaint I tossed and turned feeling my age as my hips, knees, back and neck ached and burned! Fortunately we’d upgraded (borrowed) the tent and for the first time in my life I didn’t have to crawl into or around a two-man tent. Unfortunately I was so buggered it took 2 Myprodol, Voltaren gel and a shove to get my joints going in the morning. But I soldiered on!
At night we listened to the whoop-whoop of hyena and the plaintive cry of the Fiery-necked Nightjar whistling “good lord, deliiiiiiver us”! In the morning we’d be awakened by the cry of the African Fish Eagle as he throws his head back and calls his mate. Other camp visitors included a very tame Bush pig, a forage of Banded Mongooses and monkeys on a mission to cause havoc at campsites. We’re seasoned so are always very diligent when it comes to the storage of any foodstuffs, leaving nothing to chance as we know they’re far more resourceful than anticipated when it comes to scavenging and stealing food.
Visitors are not permitted to use the Lodges’ private roads for game drives, only the main public road can be used by private vehicles. We had no choice but to book a game drive. It’s always a treat to be chauffeured as it gives Precious the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Our guide was eager to show us as much as he could, but, unfortunately we missed the cats. Tight schedules must be kept by guides which does limit one as far as distances go. We found our own slow meanders along the main thoroughfare more rewarding. Unfortunately we weren’t able to see the white fronted bee-eaters feeding their chicks along the riverbank, but we did enjoy the huge flock nesting in the tree along the road.
The Limpopo River runs through the Tuli block and we were camped on the banks. I had to see the magnificent trees and Precious had to rendezvous with the huge crocodile sunning himself on the bank. Too close and personal for me, but we enjoyed the splendour of nature all around us.
The camp manager and his staff were all extremely friendly, helpful and courteous never hesitating to assist us and the general upkeep of our site was excellent. Molema camp was an excellent choice to set up camp for our first few nights en-route to our final destination, Mana Pools.
“The Tuli Block is a narrow fringe of land at Botswana's eastern border wedged between Zimbabwe in the north and east and South Africa in the south. It consists mainly of privately owned game farms offering safari tourism. The eastern section up to and including Redshield has been declared a game reserve, known as the Northern Tuli Game Reserve.
Tuli is renowned for its geographical features — Solomon's Wall by the Motloutse River at the southwestern corner of the Tuli Block, as well as for its location near the Tswapong and Lepokole Hills where the ancestors of the San people left traces of their rock paintings. The Tuli is readily accessible by road from South Africa and all the major cities in Botswana.
The Tuli reaches from the southeast corner of Botswana, where the Shashe and the Limpopo Rivers meet, down to the Notwane River north of Olifants Drift in the South West. The entire conservancy area, including the adjacent safari area bordering the Tuli Circle, comprises about 800,000 hectares. The Tuli Block is quite different from anywhere else in Botswana. It is referred to as the Hardveld because of the rocky outcrops and the abundance of stones and pebbles of all shapes and sizes. The red sand of the Tuli area is an unforgettable trait, as well as the massive trees that occur along the banks of the Limpopo.” Copied from Wikipedia.
Tel: +27 78 391 4220
Serolo Safari Camp – Molema Bush Camp – Tuli Wilderrness Trails – Mashatu Walking Safaris