15-Sep-2005 -- In April 2005 we flew to Sitalike (near Mpanda) to visit a project for a new Headquarter for the administration of Katavi National Park and Rukwa Game Reserve at Mlele Hill. As we drove down to Ikuu and Lake Chadda on the second day of our stay, we realised at the Ranger Outpost of Ikuu that we were close (25 km) to the confluence 7S 31E, but as our work programme did not allow us to start searching, we decided to do this some time later.
On 14 September, the inauguration of the Headquarter was scheduled including visits of rehabilitated internal park roads and an overnight stay near the Ikuu outpost at Fox's Safari Camp and Flycatchers. This time driving by car, we planned our journey shortly before and had a look what Confluence we might try on our way to Katavi. We left Dar es Salaam on Saturday, 10 September driving up to Mbeya, where we stayed overnight. On the way to Sumbawanga, we passed the Confluence 9S 33E (after Mbeya) and 8S 32E (near Lake Rukwa).
After our three day programme that ended Thursday noon at Fox's Safari Camp, we started our search for 7S 31E. Standing at the main tent, our GPS indicated 21.3 km distance in western direction, looking over a dry plain. Having worked closely with TANAPA and Wildlife, we were offered to take a Ranger with us when driving in the Park. Thankfully, we accepted the offer and were accompanied by Filbert, who knows the area since 5 years.
At 13:20 we started driving along the outer border of the plain up to the point where the GPS indicated the searched point to be at 3 o'clock position (right hand side of us). Assuring us that there was no risk crossing the plain, we did so and ended at the other end, still at a distance of 10 km to our point. We searched for the best way to continue and our Ranger indicated that there was a track close. Indeed, there it was and at first it led us straight towards the point, till it turned off in the wrong direction and left us having to create our own track.
The missing 4 km were an adventurous drive through bushy area with only small trees, some bushes and dry grass (no animals). At 250 metres distance, we parked the car, hoped that the Tsetse flies would not care about us and searched for the exact point of 7°00'000"S 31°00'000"E, which we reached only 5 minutes later in open area at exactly 1000 m altitude. We accordingly celebrated our successful visit with a traditionally cold soft-drink as our previous three attempts at 7S 37E, 5S 38E and 8S 32E were (only) incomplete.
Our way back to the Camp started easier than the way finding the point, after Filbert realised that we were close to another Ranger Post and we should reach the Fox's in about one hour's drive and we even saw some game. Though the road up to the next bigger crossing was loaded with rough stones, we were delayed by quite some time as one of our tires burst. Returning, we stopped by the Hippo pool at the Ranger Post to drop our companion Filbert, and had a look at some lazy hippos, sharing the little water left. Just in time, we reached the camp to enjoy the great view to the sunset. We reached the camp and had some sundowners with Geoff Fox and some other guests who shortly before had declared us as 'crazy' but had wished us success for our adventurous trip.
Story continues at 9S 33E.