After traversing South Africa and Namibia Isabel Wolf-Gillespie reports on her progress from Botswana, since departing on her arduous 10,000km journey in May to raise awareness of the plight of Africa’s dwindling rhino population.
Namibia has taken a very special place in my heart. It is hard to explain but the land resonates with me in a way that I can’t put into words. The land feels authentic, true and free and the beauty can only take your breath away. The time travelling through this land and meeting its people was memorable and it is clear to me that we will return one day.
Ten days ago Rhino Knights took a drive to Victoria Falls so that I could participate in the Vic Falls marathon as part of the awareness drive for Rhino. The organizers Wild Frontiers, Wild Horizon and Adventure Zone kindly sponsored my entry and SuperSport filmed the marathon and is doing an insert on the campaign for much needed awareness! It was my very first 42km ever and somehow I managed to come in as 10th woman in the race! This actually was a little miracle because the evening before the race I drew money from the ATM for food and the machine gave me U$ 50 short…!! Looking at the exchange rate U$ – ZAR this is a fortune and it really upset me deeply. I didn’t know, but the 10th woman won a cash price of U$50 and balance had been restored again.
Somehow I was expecting the Botswana border to arrive with a “BANG, YOU MADE IT” but to be honest it was just like any other day. We got to the Tsumkwe border post, which is one of the smallest border posts I have ever crossed an international boundary through. There was a building with one office and two officials each seated on their own little desk. As we approached the gate/fence the few people that live in huts there came running to greet us! The Botswana government is taking precautions against Foot-and-Mouth disease all over so we had to step in between the fences and my bikes and the vehicles tyre´s were sprayed with some kind of smelly chemical. The border post building on the Botswana side was literally one quarter the size of a garage and crossing was not much more than a formality! The Tswanas welcomed us warmly into their country and we left the border in great spirits…. only to be thrown into the deep end 200 metres thereafter!
The road was thick with heavy, deep sand and my spirits plummeted… It was impossible to get through this with the bicycle and after 500m of struggle and the seemingly endless sand road ahead I burst into tears… “I can´t carry on like that! I am going backwards here… I’d rather run all day, every day than this..!”
So after a short break that’s what I did, I put my running shoes on and started running through the sand… it was slow going but it least I was moving forward… After about 7km we came to a cross roads and to our excitement that’s where the road turned into a gravel road! Back onto the bicycle with wings attached to the side, that’s how fast I felt I was going!
As we entered Botswana, it showed its warm, friendly side but also its harshness. The villages we passed through were filled with poverty but the people greeted us with such a warm and hearty smile as if we had met before. We were en route to the Delta and elephant and lion tracks and signs were clearly visible all around us. Wild animals live amongst the people and their herds of cattle, donkeys and goats that roam the land freely.
I am writing this from Maun where we will spend two days for school talks, re-stocking our supplies and connecting with conservation groups and organisations for our survey.
A few days ago a hurdle that has been a challenge for the success of the campaign from the start has raised its head again. 90% of Rhino Knights is funded by ourselves and financially we don’t know how we are going to make to the end it at this stage. We have even been talking about choosing a more direct route to shorten the campaign by three weeks.
Call for help! If anyone is able to and would like to sponsor Rhino Knights to stay on the road, please get in touch with us on [email protected] Our banking details are also viewable on our website www.earthawareness.co.za.
We are determined to complete this campaign as we believe in it and stand to 100% behind it! Where there is a will, there is a way, we just have to keep at it and something will come up!
As always –Stay well and happy! Isabel, Lloyd, Raphaela and Mr P.
Information on dates for fun runs and the proposed route can be found at www.earthawareness.co.za. If you would like to get involved in the campaign, become a sponsor, or to show your support email [email protected] Or follow on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/RhinoKnights
Donations for as little as R10 ($1.13USD) can be sent via SMS to 48716 with the words RHINOKNIGHTS in the text field.