After an evening of campfire stories, advise and tracking lessons,
(not to mention tin mugs of Cabernet Sauvignon, melting chocolate
and crunchy macadamia nuts) a good night’s sleep
and an early morning Kgalagadi-lion-in-the-camp
wake up call,
(the adrenal alarm clock leap into action,)
we were on track for another day of adventure.
Reg, with the only detailed map and loads of past experience
went ahead of us in his zippy little Jeep,
while we rumbled behind in the trusty Isuzu,
stopping from time time to bird watch or animal spot.
A day in the wilds of Africa.
We had been well prepared as to how to find fresh tracks
of all descriptions thank goodness and after a longer than usual stop
for my first ever sighting of a “choir” of meercats-
(so sweet I just couldn’t be torn away,) we needed the skills. We had lost Reg.
We arrived at a fork in the narrow winding and sandy road,
( the width of all tracks only supports 1 vehicle,
hence it is a continuous one way trail)
But at this intersection there is no little Jeep in sight.
What to do?
We detected tracks and forked right…One thing about this
kind of tracking is that you are either right or wrong,
no 50% pass rate in this test.
Pressing on, we travelled up and down dunes etched with grasses
thorn trees, deep furrows in the pathways and dangerous roots
that can slash your tyres causing mayhem.
I could not even imagine changing shredded rubber
in big predator country.
After about 20 minutes and no sign of a regrouping, which
had become so much a part of the past days we started to worry
that we had made a bad call, the longer we thought about it the
more convinced we became, until finally the big decision to turn back
was made, not an easy task in the deep and narrow grooves that were
our track but we managed eventually and then…..
No more searching for flora and fauna, I held with suction pad hands
as we flew up and down dunes, left, right, thump, bump, back along
the already travelled winding blind bends, in a race
to find our lost comrade.
(or were we the lost ones?)
At each rise we searched for the little white Jeep
but the second flurry of summer grasses were just too high
and the track too deeply buried.
Suddenly, as we were tackling yet another rise on a blind corner
There he was, the only 2 vehicles on this wilderness trail
met at pace and metal merged with metal!
Fortunately we were all fine, it was like watching the inevitable unfolding
before our eyes, soft sand, deep tracks and nowhere to go.
Our car suffered most, her bonnet had to be roped shut
for the rest of the trip, Reggie lost some glass,
generally though, other than feeling very sheepish
we got off free of any major problem.
Just the realization that we had failed ‘Tracking 101’
and the call for more camp fire lessons beckoned.