Wild Camping - Mudumu Campsite 3 - Second Time Lucky - The Caprivi adventure continues

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Wild Camping - Mudumu Campsite 3 - Second Time Lucky - The Caprivi adventure continues

It’s all very glamorous staying in beautifully appointed campsites with manicured lawns, five-star ablutions, and interesting restaurants. Even more so is gliding on a makorro and going for guided game drives. I'm not complaining. Still, we love doing our own thing. Besides, social interaction after two years of battling a pandemic has stunted our communication skills. We needed to get out there and into the wild to chill.  It was time to hit the road Jack.

We had our new batteries; our fridge was stocked with wet and fresh. The tyres were checked and deflated for sandy roads and tracks. Honey Badger was as ready as she'll ever be. 

I had a stack of books to wade through, and I think Butch needed some quiet time. He’d had me on his ear for weeks without pause. With a spade in the “bush”, he could wander off and sit for a while without my yakkety-yakking.

Without further ado, we decided to take our chances and head back to Mudumo National Park and campsite 3. At last, we could do some wild camping. No amenities, no electricity and no running water. Just us and whatever nature had in store.

You read my mind. Of course, we stopped for last-minute fresh roadside goodies, and the watermelon was just what we needed for the hot days on the riverbank. We listened to the ladies discussing their day while I selected my watermelon. Sweet and juicy, it reminded me of childhood Sundays on my Oupa’s farm.

We stopped off at the Namushasha River Lodge on the Kwando River for brunch. Another jewel in the Gondwana Collection’s crown, this luxury lodge, is situated on the river overlooking a floodplain, nestled in a forest of tall indigenous trees. All we needed was Tarzan swinging in, yelling, “Mmmmm-ann-gann-niii”!

While Butch enjoyed his Pannini, I tucked into a slab of decadent Carrot cake. My favourite. Unfortunately, the campsites were all taken up for the night, and we had to move on.

The entry gate to the Mudumo Park isn’t located where you’d expect it to be but rather hidden behind the maintenance sheds. The amiable and accommodating manager tapped confidently after running his finger over the grubby, well-fingered reservation sheet. We could have three nights at campsite 3. He assured us that the current campers, a German, would’ve left. The pencil smudges looked dubious, but we took his word for it and excitedly departed to take up our residence.

The campsite was deserted except for a saucepan, spoon and porrige bowl. They must've forgotten them we thought. We’d just got ourselves comfortable when we heard the rumble of a Diesel engine. It was making a beeline for us. In a cloud, they stopped and “The German” alighted his carriage. Trotting close behind him was his partner. They were going nowhere, I thought. This was their campsite, they assured us. “Ach, it’s Afrika,” Werner said in his Out of Africa German/French drawl. (almost like Julia Garner as Anna Delvey in Inventing Anna).

I flapped my tablecloth neurotically until Butch reminded me we weren’t awaiting a charging bull. Only a suntanned, bare-chested German and a feisty, petite French lady. I thought. The men figured it all out civilly. We love company, and they, were happy to move on or stay, whichever suited us, and it suited us to have them stay.

Werner wanted to know all about Butch’s unique braaiing techniques. Rumour has it ALL South African men braai and have their secrets, he told us. We were having a steak, and I recall nothing special to impart.

While our fire was going and I prepared our supper, we witnessed another spectacular sunset with a bloat of hippos grunting upstream. With Citronella candles flickering, enticing night bugs ever nearer, the red wine flowed and we settled into our chairs, wrapped up in our kikois, chatting late into the night. Werner and Emmanuelle recalled their incredible safaris and extraordinary sightings in Botswana and Namibia while we told them of our remarkable adventures thus far.

Emmanuelle is an upholsterer and restorer in the couple’s hometown Poullan Sur Mer in Brittany. It is my dream to visit one day, and it’s extraordinary how touched one can be by a stranger who becomes an instant friend.

Our friends departed after coffee and rusks the following day, leaving us to our own devices. Leaning out of his window, Werner reminded us to be aware of the boomslang living in the branch next to our Honey Badger! "it appears every day, goes down to the water and returns a while later."  He said. With a final wave and a cloud of dust, they were off.

We went for a much needed exploratory walk all along the embankment. We spotted a troupe of baboons going about their morning chores and ablutions, foraging and picking nits from the unruly youngsters' coats. The warthogs bristled past us without giving us a second glance. They were on a mission. My camera was ready for any eventuality, and the birding was good. Being amongst wild animals always inspires us to be who and what we really are.

Colourful fields of flowers were opening in the sunlight after the first rainfalls while dung beetles rolled and collected dung. A herd of Impalas grazed nearby all day, keeping watch over us.  The Baboons hung about all day, we didn't arouse their curiosity or interest at all. Long may it last.

While I was kneading my bread dough, Butch noticed the first gusts of wind flicking up small waves on the calm waters. On the horizon, clouds gathered while the wind picked up, lightning flashed, and thunder rolled in from the west. Butch salvaged a corrugated roof sheet and set about building a shelter for our coals. The Potbrood had to be baked come hellish winds or high water. With his ingenuity, we could bake a fine loaf for lunch.

Having sufficient electricity, to maintain our batteries, is our main concern, and it became apparent that our batteries weren’t charging as they should. It was inclement weather, but Butch wasn’t happy and suggested we leave the following day.

I loved the solitude, the excitement of possibly seeing the little boomslang when I strung up my laundry, spying on the baboons and the hope of seeing something unexpected cross our path. Our Italian meatball and tomato pasta was delicious and simple to make.  We allowed the pot to do it's magic while we enjoyed another spectacular sunset.

And so I packed up and stowed our stuff with a heavy heart as sunlight streaked through the clouds, and soon, we were on our way again. That night we hoped to set up camp at Camp Kwando Bush Camp. This is, after all, life in an overlander truck, we reminded ourselves.

We had a surprise sighting of Zebra, Kudu, and a corpse of Giraffe on our way out. They might’ve been on their way to see us…

We briefly contemplated whether we should stop and inform our helpful reservations officer at the gate, but we pushed on, knowing bookings aren’t written in stone. The next campers would be thrilled to find the spot vacated.