Less than three weeks to go
16 August 2012
With less than three weeks to go, it is difficult to ignore the growing sense of homecoming, impending reunions, the promise of uninterrupted sleep and with it the relief of not having to be constantly aware of the objectives of our expedition. And yet, if ever there was a need to keep focused, it is now. Ahead of us are sand and gravel roads, two lake crossings, a dhow transfer to the Maputo Special Reserve, a long coastal walk, two days of sea kayaking and a final beach walk to our South African world heritage site destination at Cape Vidal on September 2. It is in this light that I am reminded of the words of the poet Robert Frost:
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep
but I have promises to keep
and miles to go before I sleep …”
Thanks to Billy Swanepoel and Antony Alexander (both of Peace Parks) we have now safely exited the Parque Nacional do Limpopo (PNL), a beautiful and varied landscape of forests, cliffs, river systems as well as several hamlets and villages situated in a ‘buffer zone’ within the park itself. Established by individuals seeking to escape the war of independence (1964 – 1974) and then the civil war (1976 – 1994), the presence of these hamlets, the visible economic hardships and the obvious paucity of wild animals in the buffer zone was a stark reminder of the challenges of promoting one of our other objectives – human co-existence with the wild animals. This will only work when human poverty is alleviated. Meanwhile, in collaboration with the government and the Peace Parks Foundation (a project partner of the TOG – www.peaceparks.org ) these settlements are in the process of being re-established in productive areas outside of the park boundary.