Chobe National Park

Chobe Travel Blog

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Driving north into Chobe National Park the next morning we had more water crossings which we walked before driving over.  Found a French couple with a child and guide on the road walking towards us.  They drowned there Nissan 4x4 when the guide told them to drive straight through the middle of a river crossing, we had to cross the same river.  We got them all into the Land Rover and drove towards it.  We walked it and we (with Matt) decided on a route hard to the right side beside some fallen trees that only brought the water up to door level with a sharp decline down to the left, but the air intake was on the right side if the Landy did begin to slip sideways down in.

While I passed with the landy Paulina decided to going across walking. Some days after it a woman from France, who works in tourism area in Zambia told her it had been one of the huge mistakes she could do, because of the crocodiles which are in every river in Africa.  Someone always has something to say....

On the other side we found the drowned 4x4 which someone had pulled out for them.  We offered to help but told them I wasn’t sure what I could do but I would have a go.  With the different tools between us we set to work.  Air filter was sodden so off with that completely.  Could see water looking down into in the carburetor but could not reach into the awkward placed to remove drain plug, removing the carb completely could easily lead to other problems and I had difficulty trying to remove it in the first place.

This is the young bull that sent us all running!
  So I used a twig from a bush with a tea cloth and soaked up as much as possible, repeating the process again and again to remove the water.  I was sure there was water in the pistons but we had no special spark plug tool to reach deep into the engine block where the plugs were screwed in, with them removed it would give the water a place to escape.  Instead I removed the HT electrical leads from each spark plug and safely numbered them to put them back in the right order.  Then we used Matts Hilux to pull the drowned 4x4 in gear.  Moving the pistons and hoping this would pressure the water to pass out the out-let valves without trying to ignite the fuel inside at the same time.  We pulled it for 200m and I had a look under it and could see black water draining through the exhaust system by the engine, we pulled it another a couple of times until no more water was coming out.

Then came my disclaimer to the French driver, all the time I was explaining what I was doing and the logic behind it, but this was not my car or I wasn’t a qualified mechanic, it had to be his choice to turn the key as he had rented this car, so he was responsible for it during his 3weeks holiday with many km’s to go.  With fingers crossed he turned the key and after a few short turns of the engine she started to take and then burst into life!  The engine didn’t sound too bad.  Not sure who was more pleased, the French family who could continue their trip in Africa or their local guide who hugged me hoping that he still had a job and a good tip at the end!  With a fresh dry tea cloth tripled layered to make an improvised air filter to help keep dust out everyone was very happy.

Internal roof rack collapsed after an afternoons jumping on sand tracks
  I advised him to get a new air filter once out of the park and to keep well away from dusty plumes of other drivers.

We continued in convoy with the Nissan sitting far back out of the dust.  Another 30kms later we saw elephants coming to a water hole, just the picture Paulina had seen in one of the magazines we had bought about Chobe National Park, so the smile returned to her face. 

We pulled just off the sandy track to watch them drinking and spraying muddy water over their backs. It was a large heard, old and young elephants, adolescent bulls and clumsy babies.  The French family got out for a better view hiding behind a bush and Paulina stood on the bonnet of the Landy.  After a while I got out and stood on the roof rack to take some photos and videos.

Elephant foot print
As I videoed I turned to Paulina asking her what she thought, then one of the young bulls spotted us.  He stood with its ears flapping starring at all of us, the French family made a dash back to their 4x4.  Then came the trumpet, at this stage Paulina was making her way back inside and I was jumping straight down from the roof through the open door, there was no time to waste.  Everyone was running!  After a quick look to see what the young bull was doing, if he was charging yet or not!  He wasn’t and seemed to be wandering what was going on swinging his trunk from side to side (maybe he was waiting on backup?).  With a large heard in front of us and to our sides it was time to “exit stage left!!”.  There was enough space to drive straight around and turn back onto the track, never mind the wasting time reversing for the couple of bushes and drove through them.
  Looking back everyone was on the move and the bull trumpeted again.  Elephants don’t give you much of a warning if you upset them but if they trumpet and flapping the ears it can’t be a good sign.  We drove slowly up the track through the middle of another heard coming to the water hole.

The track further on was deep soft sand and I kept the speed up, low tyre pressure, diff-lock on, traction control coming on from time-to-time and we bounced along feeling the speed slow in the deeper sections, but we kept our momentum up not wanting to get stuck. Paulina was holding on with both hands but still continued to bounce off her seat.  I asked her to make a video and they result was shaky amazing videos about an unique experience for both of us.

After long soft sections when the going was firm I would stop letting everyone catch up not wanting to leave someone stuck alone.  I went to get water out of the back of our secured Landy but when I opened the rear door it was like someone pulled a pin on a grenade and threw it in the back!  Our inner roof rack made from a wooden (accordion) garden trestle secured up brush shafts and bamboo, had collapsed and everything that wasn’t tired down had a washing machine effect.  A wee job for later I reckon…
At that night’s camping site again we were with a smile after a HUGE elephant came through! He just passed 10 meters from us for going across the river while we follow his steps during some seconds.  The French family stayed beside us that night as they lost too much time to make their booked camping site further north.
  He brought over a nice bottle South African red wine as thanks for the help.  River beside us was flowing, first time hadn’t in 40years, was once again flowing after heavy late floods much further north from Angola.  In this inland delta all the water comes from many miles away up north.

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This is the young bull that sent u…
This is the young bull that sent …
Internal roof rack collapsed after…
Internal roof rack collapsed afte…
Elephant foot print
Elephant foot print
photo by: Biedjee