Wednesday, March 16, 2016

More Rain

Today (Wednesday) we planned to leave early for a full day at the Moremi Game Reserve. However, during the night it began to rain. It was a steady, hard rain by the time we got up at 5:15 and by the time we finished our morning ablutions about 6:00, it was still going strong.

"So," you say, "it'll stop, just hit the road." True enough. It is now 9:00 and it has indeed stopped. The problem is the roads. To get the the south gate of the reserve is about 100 km (61 miles). We have tarred road for about ⅓ of that distance. The unpaved portion up to the veterinary fence, which gets us about half way, is not too bad. Some washboard in places, but reasonable. After that, it is noticeably worse with lots of mud "puddles." None terribly deep, but some nearly as large as the vehicle.

The real problem comes once you enter the reserve. The gate has a building that contains the office for the gatekeeper and toilets. That's it. No food, no rescue service. Perhaps a telephone, but I can't be sure. Once you are in the reserve, you are really on your own. And the road is what we'd call a path through a pasture.

The sand is deep in places and when wet can be treacherous. As my colleagues in gradual materials can explain much better than I can, sand is sometimes a solid (packed and dry) and sometimes more a liquid (loose, and water doesn't help here). If done wrong, it can be like driving into a bottomless "puddle."

The areas without sand have clay. Wet clay is very slippery as I can attest from having fallen in the drive way a few days back after a mild rain. It is just like ice.

Now combine this with the fact that outside your vehicle are things that will eat you. If you get stuck, you are just bloody stuck. Everyone says that if this should happen your only recourse is to have plenty of food and water and simply wait. Leaving the vehicle is not an option. Stories abound of people who failed to heed this command and all that was found was the vehicle. All you can do is be patient and wait for someone to come along and help you get unstuck.

Also, sitting the the car with the windows closed to keep the flies out,means it will be hot as well as humid. Running the engine to operate the air conditioner for long periods is a risk. The next problem could be sitting at the side of the road on the way home, out of gas waiting for another Samaritan.  The nearest gasoline is Maun and all the animals are not confined to the reserve. The park is completely surrounded by game management areas that, as we have already seen, contain game as well.

So, all this to say, we took a raincheck on this trip today as it seemed just a bit too much to attempt after a long hard rain. Even our drive way was slick and deeply puddled when we left this morning about 8:00. We are tentatively rescheduled for Friday in hopes that it'll clear a little, the sun will dry things a bit, and the roads will be more passable. We'll keep you posted.