From Gweta we drove in a southerly direction along one of the numerous sandy tracks through the bush. Gradually the vegitation became more and more sparse giving way to an open savanna. Soon we found ourselves on the edge of the largest salt pan in the Makgadikgadi, Ntwetwe Pan.
A must when visiting the Nxai Pan National Park is a very picturesque group of seven baobab trees perched on the edge of the Kudiakam Pan. A very special and lonely place. One seems to be lying down on it's side, fast asleep, whilst another is perhaps stretching and having a deep long yawn. The only movement to be seen was the clouds as they flew by, casting their shadows across the pan. Not a sound was to be heard. Origially they were known as The Sleeping Sisters.
The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans were once part of an enormous lake that dried up over 10000 years ago as a result of tectonic and climatic change. Today the pans are one of the main tourist attractions in Botswana and a stark contrast to the wetlands of the Okavango Delta. The northern most of the Makgadikgadi pans and our next destination, are Kgama Kgama Pan, Kudiakam Pan and Nxai Pan.
During our trip in the Moremi I noticed an occasional clunky sort of sound coming from underneath the van but nothing seemed to be missing, hanging loose, or leaking and so I wasn't too concerned for the moment. I'm used to the various noises the van makes, however, this was definitly something new and that I would have to pay some attention to. Little did I know at the time that we would only just make it back to Maun and that this might possibly be the end of our adventure.
The Okavango Delta is one of the worlds greatest wetland ecosystems. A vast amount of water drains seasonally each year from the Angolan highlands into the flat lowlands of the Kalahari Basin, forming upto 22000 km² of floodplains, channels, islands, marshes, lagoons and woodlands. It is home to one of the largest and diverse concentrations of African wildlife. A part of it can be self driven in 4x4 vehicles, the Moremi Game Reserve.
Late in the afternoon, just for a second or two, I nodded off at the wheel, a very scary situation to be in. Both of us have had very little sleep recently. It all started a week ago when a blind passenger hopped on board. We've named him Ralph.