Dawn – Part 1
Words and Photos by Shane Quinnell, Team Tane
Dawn is an incredible time of day. It heralds the start of a new day, new possibilities. It lights up the land and brings the beautiful colours of opportunity.
For Tarryn and I the quote from Batman (a deep movie I know) “the darkest hour comes before dawn,” rang true. Our darkest hour of teething pains came just before we left, and faded the day we headed North for the interior of our great continent, Africa. Our dawn had arrived with our departure and the colours, sights and sounds were incredible. They rang of our present freedom and the endless prospects which awaited us on our journey, Suzuki Africa Sky High.
Our lack of experience on African Overland trips became apparent before we even left, when we found I had accidently packed our Tracks 4 Africa (T4A) (4x4 GPS tracks for Africa) SD card into our storage unit. We were fortunate however, to have Tarryn’s folks, Grant and Debbie, join us for the first twelve days of our trip with their Hilux, ‘The Hulk.’ Despite not being leather skinned nor wearing khaki, both Grant and Debbie are experienced Southern African overlanders, who have spent many days travelling the backroads of Southern Africa. They also both had a copy of T4A. So naturally, until we got a new copy in Maun, Botswana, they became our navigators.
Despite our lack of experience, however, we successfully, fairly easily fitted eight months’ worth of camping equipment, all of our Osprey packs and Black Diamond climbing gear, into our slight Suzuki Jimny. Thereby proving our notion that Suzuki Jimny’s have enough space to pack everything you need for an extended overland trip.
The days we spent with Grant and Debbie were nothing short of incredible. Our first hurdle, Martin’s Drift; the SA Botswana border, was a breeze. We were out within 30 minutes. We got through to Khama Rhino Sactuary, had a celebratory beer and proceeded to encounter five White Rhinos and a bunch of other game. Our first afternoon on the road and Africa was already sharing her secrets. It great to learn how the Presidency of Botswana (Ian Khama) was behind the battle against rhino poaching and fully supportive of the protection of their country’s wildlife. It was obvious this approach was working. One can only hope that one day South Africa will recognise this and do the same.
The second morning Tarryn and I, who constantly lagged behind her super-efficient parents, drove the deep sand road toward the
sanctuary’s gate to catch up with her folks who were already there waiting. On the way we almost ploughed straight into a leopard who was crouched in the middle of the road stalking an impala. I fumbled my lenses to try get a photo as the leopard eyed us angrily for upsetting his breakfast and stalked off. I missed the shot but maintained the memory of the incredible encounter.
Following our chance encounter we left Khama toward Lekhubu (Kubu) Island, the Island of the Baobabs. We soon learnt why T4A was mandatory and how important Wizerd’s and Opposite Lock’s modifications were.
We lost sight of the Hulk a few times enroute. Without a detailed map or T4A, we had almost no idea where to go. We were in a sea of sand with overhead bushes and criss-crossing paths, not knowing which to take. When we finally found the Hulk, Tarryn and I vowed never again to forget T4A!
Kubu Island was like something of a daydream. Imagine a semi-desolate, semi-arid island, covered in baobabs, located in the middle of sprawling salt pans and you are pretty much spot on. Before we had properly stopped, Tarryn was out of Badger on her way up the rocks towards the closest Baobab, hammock in hand. It was the thought of hanging out in our hammock under a baobab which got us through the teething we described in the last blog (see the blog: www.teamtane.com/teething).
There was something about the gnarled Baobabs which made the island feel ancient, which gave it a certain vibe. The teething stress melted away. We were in Africa and loving it!
After witnessing a spectacular Sunset and waking at first light to an equally spectacular sunrise it was, unfortunately, time to move on. I hate to do this to you but, you will have to wait till part two to read the riveting next section… Its coming soon.
Check out the EPIC Youtube video below to help you get over us leaving you hanging on the blog :).