Cruising to the Race for Rhino’s
Day 9 (25/06/17)
After a late pack on the Sunday we managed to head off at about 12:30pm, making our way up to Molepolole then to Serowe via David Livingston’s old trade route. Livingstone is one of the most famous missionaries in Botswana as he completed extensive work throughout the country leaving an impact on many of the people he encountered. Being such a fascinating man, we thought it highly appropriate to follow a section of his old routes and check out the famous Kobokwe’s Cave or commonly known as the Livingstone’s Cave. The story behind this is quite an interesting one indeed. A man named Kobokwe committed a crime serious enough to be sentenced to death, so naturally Kobokwe fled to avoid such punishment and ran into the cave to escape his fate. Legend says he entered the cave and was never seen again creating the myth behind the cave of a feared or even cursed place. It was since used to as a dumping ground for wrong doers and witches further adding to the stigma of the cave. However, when Livingstone arrived in Molepolole he defied all odds in an attempt to gain followers and respect of the Bakwena people by spending a night in the cave, resulting in a lot of Bakwena converting to Christianity. Hence why is it still commonly known as Livingstone’s cave.
The cave has spectacular view once you reach the top as it gazes across the stunning scenery surrounding the Molepolole region. Entering the mouth of the cave, what looks like the sacrificial remains of a chicken, with the smell of urine and bat poo overwhelming your nostrils. Being barefoot, hygiene in the cave is somewhat questionable, never the less an attempt to go further into the cave was a must do. There are two shafts, one above the other where you can narrowly slip up into and make your way about 50 meters into the hill. Candles were placed at intervals along the cave giving it a rather spooky feel as it jogged our memory of the stories of witch doctors practicing their witchcraft in the hills. In the cave, it was extremely humid and quite hard to breath in the confined space we found ourselves navigating through. After returning to the beginning of the trail to the cave we came across two men who had asked if we had entered the cave to which we responded with a confident yes. They shook their head’s accompanied by a little muffled laugh as if to express the opinion of a bad mistake on our parts. Not huge believers in these things plus the reassurance of Livingstone’s time in the cave, we were more worried about what disease’s we might have picked up climbing through that unhygienic place. No matter, we were still stoked to experience such a cool cave as we hopped back into the beast and started making our way closer to Serowe.
About 60km out of Molepolole we came across a farmer named Elias who allowed us to stay on his farm and supplied us with wood as we sat around the campfire sharing stories of adventure with this kind and welcoming man. His friend joined us and had a laugh as he explained how all of his sons have left the farm to live city life, whilst the Makgoa (white man) wishes to stay and interact with mingle with the locals. This was quite humbling as we see no boundaries for these interactions and were received well by these gentlemen.
Day 10 (26/06/2017)
A cold morning followed as we packed up camp and started cruising up to Serowe where we were to restock on a few supplies and head just 20km north to Khama Rhino Sanctuary. We were met by a man named Store, the head ranger at the sanctuary who helped us take our gear to the campsite as our little single wheeled beast would have never made it through the thick sand roads that meandered their way through the sanctuary.
The following morning, we were up at 5:30 am as Store took us out on a game drive where we saw four Rhino, Giraffe, Wildebeest and many more. It is always fantastic to see these animals and to see the hard work the rangers put into protecting these beautiful animals. Store then introduced us to the Manager of the sanctuary whom we interviewed and got some extremely valuable information on what they do at the sanctuary and how they help the surrounding communities.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary was set up in the 90’s and relied heavily upon donations to help the park operate. Commonly mistaken fact of the park is that the long serving Botswana leaders, the Khama’s are the ones who own the sanctuary but this is not quite accurate. It is more likely that the sanctuary was named in honour of this prestigious family. The sanctuary does far more than just harbour and protect Rhino and extends its influence beyond its gates by employing people from surrounding villages providing employment and funds community driven initiatives. Since its opening they were donated three Rhino’s and since then their numbers have increased to above 50 Rhino’s including both black and white Rhino. It is a fantastic organization that is really making a positive impact for conservation with highly talented rangers and management.
We are all very honoured to call Botswana our home, having been raised in this beautiful country and are extremely proud of the conservation work being done in one of the last conservation strongholds in Africa.
Having left Khama Rhino Sanctuary we now proceeded to another one of Botswana’s major cities, Francistown where we met up with an old mate whom housed generously and provided a couple beers. We met up with a contact from one of our sponsors, Bokomo Botswana that sorted us out with some food and treated us to a Wimpy breakfast which was a fantastic treat.
There was now the 200km stretch to Sua Pan for the ‘Race for Rhino’s’ Event which being thrilled for, made the drive quite arduous. It’s one of those feeling’s you cant escape when your excited, as a kid trying to sleep before Christmas we just couldn’t wait. Days like this in the Tuk Tuk you find yourself loosing yourself as boredom hits you hard at faster than 40km/h, so maintaining decent conversation and keeping yourself busy becomes necessity to remain sane.
Never the less we cruised down the Sowa road found the entrance gate anxious to witness such a prestigious event.