Due to lack of resources the parks roads have virtually disappeared – Em and I explored a small length last week putting it on the map.
There’s a need to travel them to assess the condition of bridges etc, many of which are burned by poachers. So Kennedy and I planned a trip – nobody had driven these roads for over 8 years and although its the dry season we still had river courses to plot. So off we went travelling north first section is open for a few Km’s then it was axes out to cut routes round trees, make routes to cross rivers, climbing over logs, all good Landy stuff although Emma squealed quite a bit.
We recorded defects on GPS as well as route. Made it to North boundary and stayed at a rangers camp there. Emma made friends with local kids while I looked at houses. Set off next day having been warned the new anti elephant fence erected to protect villagers had been erected in the middle of the track meaning we would have to go through the bush for “ about 100m” this turned out to be a huge under estimate and Kennedy and I chopped routes all morning, bloody hot (40c) plus tsetse flies everywhere. These are like horseflies except they chase cars being triggered by movement so you learn not to jump out too quickly when you stop. Emma was chief killer and the car looked like a massacre had taken place inside by the time we got home – blood splatters everywhere.
We could not find the other route south – long overgrown so we circled round the park on an outside road that is the Zambian border. Entered the park at mid point on west ( say 9 o clock and travelled along another unused track to the north, again much tree cutting etc. Finally broke out on the top track putting it back on the map. Decided to turn round go back down the track the further and again uncharted. This was most difficult as in most places it was simply a very small path/ game trail Finally made it to the other side of a river we had got to previous day and wild camped in the middle of the Park. Kennedy and I did a scouting expedition on foot next morning where we found a place I thought we could cross – bit more chopping and digging and a bit of wellie and I got down across and up the other side. emma not happy as if we get stuck theres no help.
Only a couple of hours back to the main camp so we saved several hours. Nobody can believe we have opened two north south routes which means rangers can be dropped off to patrol back and after repair works to bridges etc tourists can use them again. Filthy wasn’t the word when we got back – only to find no diesel for generator/ pump so I donated 20 litres – still no water till next day but also meant all the people ( except us!!) had electricity for a few hours.
All jolly exciting if very hot and itchy stuff.
Since we’ve been back, our Elephant friends have become even more matey since they’ve got used to our presence and come up very close indeed,but in a very gentle and cautious way,including babies, which the mother’s don’t feel they have to protect to the same extent, all we can do is stop and watch in amazement.