Botswana.

A short 45 minute drive from Victoria Falls and we were crossing the border into Botswana and the town of Kasane, which was to be our base for the next couple of days.

In Victoria Falls we had picked up a few new passengers, including four Italian guys, who were in fact two couples and who looked like they were going to be a lot of fun.

Our campsite was on the banks of The Choebe River and was pretty good. The facilities were decent, plus it had a fantastic restaurant and bar which was showing The Rugby World Cup. A big step up from Zimbabwe.

The plan here was to do a game drive the following day and a river cruise on either the first or second evenings. We were cook group that day so chose to do it the following evening.

Cook group is always a hectic time. Planning on what you are going to cook for up to 28 people isn’t easy. Plus you have to be flexible, as when you get to the supermarket or market the ingredients you need are not always available. Then on the day there is invariably a lot of chopping and other preparation before the cooking actually starts.

It looks like we’re having fajitas tonight.

We generally cook once a week and on the other days you rotate between, truck cleaning, truck security and washing up, with the latter being the only real time consuming job. You also have a day off thrown in here and there, plus there are days when no-one cooks and you have to fend for yourself. This usually happens in bigger towns. Since the start we have been in a cook group with a girl called Ana. She is 24 years old, lives in Australia but is half Croatian. She is lovely and always happy and bubbly. We were joined in the cook group after Victoria Falls by a Swedish guy, who needs a little or sometimes a lot of encouragement to get involved. But unfortunately for him Steve is quite happy to give him all the encouragement he needs.

When the group returned from the evening river cruise, they seemed happy but not overly so and were a little disappointed that they hadn’t seen any elephants, who had been billed as the main attraction. However they were soon lifted by our super delicious chicken and vegetable stir fry!!

Later in the evening we went to the great bar and watched England play in the Rugby World Cup Quater Final. It was packed and noisy with a great atmosphere and several different nationalities watching. Not many supporting England though. It was very easy to forget where exactly in The World we were.

The next day brought another game drive in the now familiar 4×4 safari jeeps. Each country seems to have its own slight difference in design but they are all essentially the same. For this game drive there was no ‘Spotter Seat’ like in Zimbabwe, which initially Steve was disappointed about, but he soon changed his mind we we bumped into a pride of Lions on the prowl.

That is just about near enough. Thankyou.

The highlight of our day came in the evening when we went on the river cruise along The Choebe River. We were hoping we might get to see some elephants, but in the end we saw so much more. It turned out to be one of the best parts of the entire Africa trip.

Drifting down The Choebe River.

After cruising along the river for about half an hour spotting a few crocodiles lazing on the banks catching the last of the evening sun, we saw what looked like quite a big hippo ahead of us.

Its always dinner time for some!

It was mostly submerged but it was moving towards some grass and reeds near the bank. We were able to get pretty close as it munched away and slowly emerged from the water.

He was a biggie.

He was huge. The biggest hippo we had seen so far. We watched him for quite some time, until he decided it was toilet time. Now Hippos have an unusual way of going to the toilet, as they expel the days leftovers there little tail spins around like a propeller spreading the poo far and wide. We were just and only just out of range as the S#!t really hit the fan!

Almost immediately after we said goodbye to the hippo we spotted a small group of elephants away in the distance. We made our way towards them and as we did, more and more elephants emerged from the trees.

This was a great sight.

They gathered together on the river bank drinking and playing, and we counted 30 in total. We then noticed one of the bigger females wandered into the water a little and then a little bit more, then more, soon she was half submerged and being followed inline by a few others. They were preparing to cross the river to the other bank.

It was a fantastic sight made even more special when a really small baby followed its mother into the water and very soon got out of its depth. It quickly wrapped its trunk around its mother’s tail and settled in for a tow as mother started to swim across.

We probably won’t see this again.

After reluctantly leaving the elephants we made our way back along the river as the sun started to set on what had been a fabulous evening. Capped off in the bar with a beer and more rugby.

A long days drive across Botswana brought us to our next stop in the town of Maun, gateway to the much touted Okavango Delta.

This was something we were really looking forward to, and had been for a long time. We were heading out into the Delta in mokoro, which are traditional dug out canoes, we were going to be camping in a peaceful remote part of the Delta for two nights and we were going to be doing safaris in the morokos and also on foot. It sounded great.

Unfortunately it ended up being a little bit disappointing. It was surprisingly very touristy, more so than most things we have done so far. We drove to the moroko station, which was quite chaotic, with several other groups both large and small all arriving at the same time. We were loaded along with our gear into a moroko which turned out to be a mass produced fibre glass affair. We were assigned a poleman/polewoman, and all set off in convoy, to our section of ‘remote isolation’.

Off not so deep into The Okavango Delta. But it was still very scenic.

Our alloted camping area was very small and we were all quite close to one another, which didn’t make for a good night’s sleep. There are some serious snorers in the group!

Our illustrious tour leader was doing the cooking for the first time and he had also done the shopping himself. Were we in for a culinary treat? Oh no we weren’t, both nights were a disaster. Over cooked pasta and a tomato paste was served up on the first night and then a bland chicken dish was planned for the second night. However with no fridge and being in 35 degree heat for two days, the chicken looked the worst for wear. Maybe doing the meals the other way around might have been a better option. At least we had plenty of bread, an open fire and a big tub of peanut butter, so Steve was happy enough.

Our campsite.

We did several walking safaris, day and evening. Which were a change from the 4×4 safaris we had been doing. However for safety reasons we were limited to how near we were allowed to get to any wildlife. So having being used to seeing elephants giraffe, zebra etc from just a few metres, it had much less off an impact seeing them through binoculars a hundred metres away.

Taking a break on a waking safari.

We have unfortunately been totally and utterly spoilt on this trip. The saving grace was that we hooked up in a group with The Italiens and they were hilarious, they had Steve’s sense of humour and we had so many laughs with them.

Steve being an idiot!

We also did an evening trip in a mokoro, but animals were pretty thin on the ground, in fact when an elephant appeared in one of the waterways, we quickly turned and headed back where we had come from. The sunset however was pretty special.

A stunning sunset in Botswana.

We will just mention the toilet arrangements before we finish on the Okavango Delta. As a group we were provided with a home made folding metal frame, which had a toilet seat attached to it. A hole was then dug in the bush a few metres out from the camp, the metal frame was placed over the hole and a toilet roll hung on a nearby branch. When you had finished the idea was to use a shovel to throw some dirt on top until the hole was almost full again, whereupon a new hole was dug!

It was quite an experience to sit there as the sun went down watching a couple of giraffe stroll by on the horizon!

So that was Botswana almost over. The Okanvango Delta had not quite lived up to the expectations but The Choebe River had by far exceeded them.

One other exciting thing that happened in Botswana is that we changed trucks. The one we had been travelling in was apparently not allowed into Namibia and South Africa. All sorts of dubious reasons were given. The canvas windows were not regulation there, the trucks registration documents were not valid there. The truck was the wrong shade of yellow! However not only was the truck changed, but the tour leader and driver were also changed. Steve could be heard shouting and cheering all the way back in Kenya when the news was announced!

“Hey Sarah. It’s your turn to dig the hole”

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