30-Sep-2002 -- Botswana Independence Day. We loaded up Chris’s short wheel base Land Cruiser with a pile of cool drinks, some beer, and a cooler bag packed full of sandwiches, chopped vegetables and fruit. We reckoned it would take us all day to get to the confluence of 24S 26E and home again.
Home, in Phakalane, is at 24°34’S 25°58’E. According to the GPS units we were carrying, our destination was about 2.5 hours away, to the north-north-east. To get there we had to travel to the west, then north, and then east, travelling along a good tar road through Gaborone, Mogoditshane, and turning off on the new road towards Lentsweletau. The tar stopped at the usual Botswana step-down to dirt - a ledge separating the tar from the dirt road - about an hour after we left Phakalane. Our travelling from then was on dirt roads, then dirt tracks, and then just dirt.
We were fortunate to see a legavaan – a monitor lizard – crossing the road. We stopped to watch it scrambling in the dirt (picture 6). Eventually it became distressed with four persons standing around staring at it, and quickly climbed up a thorn bush where despite the protection afforded it by the sharp spiky thorns, it remained puffed up and hissing at us. We left to continue our search for the Confluence.
Luckily, we found a cutline, probably opened up for geological exploration, running slightly north of latitude 24S. We drove along this for some distance. Very near our destination, we came across a wide cutline marking the boundary between Kweneng District and Kgatleng District (picture 7). In Kgatleng District, the thorn scrub had been burned fairly recently.
We travelled through this to the confluence of 24S 26E (picture 1, picture 2), about 0.5 km off the cutline, and about 1.5 km away from the district boundary. The local inhabitants – a herd of cows – relaxed nearby (picture 8). The highlight of the Confluence was the large camelthorn about 100 metres to the southeast (picture 3). All around was burned bush – mainly peeling plane and silver terminalia - looking monotonously similar in their charred states. The acacia seemed to have been impervious to the burning (picture 4).
We were working with two hand-held GPS receivers – a Garmin 12 and a Garmin III - accurate to within 10 metres. The determined positions duly coincided (picture 5). It helped that we travelled with 1:50,000 ordinance survey maps of the area (printed 1981). We used them as references, more on the return trip than going to the Confluence. They helped us find tracks on which to travel back to the main road, via cattle posts and fields along the Thagale River to Monametsana where we joined the main road back to Phakalane.
Interesting information about this Confluence: It is 982 km to Vilanculas, Mozambique; 993 km to Richtersvelt, South Africa; 983 km to Lusaka, Zambia; 826 km to Durban, South Africa; and 1117 km to East London, South Africa. Catriona reckoned we were nearly at equidistance from everywhere, plus or minus a hundred km or so.