06-Apr-2007 -- There had always been a bush trip planned over the Easter long weekend but the question was where to go? I try to go to places far away from people, to areas least affected by humans. When separate discussions about the Degree Confluence Project and the 19th parallel cut line converged, the answer to the bush trip route was crystal clear! There was an unvisited Confluence on the 19th parallel cut line (19S 25E) and the added bonus of a second, albeit visited, Confluence at 19S 24E.
Botswana offers the confluence hunter and eco-traveller the ideal opportunity to explore remote areas. The country is crisscrossed by cut lines carved through the bush to serve as fire breaks, access routes and veterinary area demarcations. It was one such cut line that the route was planned on, lying on 19 degrees south and possibly linking the Kasane road to the main access route to Savuti National Park some 175 km away. From Google Earth, the cut line is distinct in the East but wanes into obscurity in the Savuti Marsh, close to the Savuti entrance gate.
A large party comprising six vehicles assembled at Elephant Sands camp site about 90 km south of the Confluence on the road linking Nata to Kasane. After breakfast the party departed for the Confluence, hoping to reach it by mid afternoon. Travelling was easier than expected as the cut line had been recently cleared of mopane scrub (Colophospermum mopane) and being Kalahari sand, there was no mud from the recent rains. En route we saw zebra and steenbok, although we had expected to see more wildlife. Recent rains had produced a green flush in the thick mopane woodland, so even if the animals were there, they were difficult to spot.
At around 15:00 we reached as far as we were going to get from the Confluence by vehicle and had to walk the remaining 200 metres into the bush. With four GPS units at hand it looked very comical seeing four grown men meandering around a 6 m radius in the African bush searching for the elusive "all zeros". With great excitement the obligatory pictures were taken and we returned to the vehicles where we set up camp for the night on the cut line.
The following morning half the party continued along the 19th parallel cut line towards Savuti and 19S 24E, while the other half returned to pursue a shorter trip along Hunters Road.