Published: May 16th 2009November 17th 2008
The debauchery from the previous night in Vic Falls did not leave us in good shape for our first day in Botswana with a 7am departure and all of 2hrs sleep under our belts. Today was the first day with our new truck and tour leader, the other truck would follow a similiar path for a bit but with an extra day up their sleeves for Chobe and the delta and then continue across to Cape town. So after some final farewells to our great guides Matt, Pete and Nick and all the people staying behind we managed to leave close to on time miraculously!
The day was to be a huge day including a long drive, a boat cruise and an afternoon game drive. We crossed into Botswana in the morning which was uneventful apart from having to file through the chemical dip with our shoes which was an attempt to keep foot and mouth at bay. We were all excited by the full shelves in the shops once we crossed into Botswana and changed money and stocked up on snacks and drinks for the road.
Arrived in Kasane around lunch time and after setting up camp and
Road closed, all hands on deck
Main highway closed due to collapsed cattle grids
having some lunch we were off again for our afternoon boat trip on the Chobe river. With low expectations, the boat trip turned out to be quite spectacular, which was fortunate as it helped to keep us awake, although there were quite a few casualities to fatigue along the way! The highlights of our boat cruise were an extreme close up viewing of a herd of elephants bathing in mud, the huge number of hippos both in the water and also out and about grazing, some crocodiles, loads of birdlife and a tiger fish which almost leapt into our boat!
As soon as we arrived back on shore we were piled into safari trucks and taken into Chobe National Park for a late afternoon game drive. Here we were fortunate enough to see some hyena pups, another leopard in a tree, hornbills, leopard tortoise, loads of impala with foals, elephants and the rare sight of elephants swiming across the river. Just on sunset we spotted our only lions of the drive and arrived back at camp in the dark and were off to bed early.
The following day was an epic driving day, travelling some distance to the
This elephant was pushing all the others around
town of Maun. The trip was uneventful apart from a small delay where a cattle grid had collapsed under a truck blocking the entire highway for some time.
We again did some shopping in Maun before settling into camp just outside of town. A few drinks were had at the social and busy bar. The following morning we were off again for our excursion into the Okavango Delta. Piling into "Bob" the truck we headed off into the wild again crossing the 3500 km long buffalo fence which was built to prevent the spread of foot and mouth. The fence was ingeniously designed so that the elephants could step on the fence which would slide down and allow their calves to cross and then slide back up. Not sure how long it took to train the elephants but apparently it works!
We were then off-loaded at the edge of the delta and assigned our very own poler and mokoro dugout canoe. After our guide strategically balanced us and our gear we were off into the delta.......an 18000 square km area of swamp lands of which 6000 km2 are permanent swamp. We had the hard job of laying back
in the boat and not moving too much, while our polers made light work of guiding us through the narrow channels between the reeds in our questionably water tight canoes. We spent two nights camping out on an island of the delta, heading out on foot several times on some game walks on various nearby islands. We were given the not so comforting talk about how to react if we saw any of the big 5, or more importantly anything that could kill us! Stand and face a lion or a leopard (but don't look a leopard in the eye), run like hell from a buffalo and wait for our guide to cue us to run from an elephant. Realistically we weren't sure how well we'd remember this advice if confronted by an angry beast but disappointingly we didn't see anything bigger than the wildebeast and zebra whilst out (although deep down this was probably more of a relief). We had a sunset cruise on the delta at the hippo pool to catch the hippos yawning. By now it was raining and the sunset was dismal but the hippos came up with the goods!
We had the afternoon and
one last night at the camp ground near Maun, to relax, play some cards, try to wash and dry all our stinky clothes in drizzly weather and of course have a few beverages at the bar!!! Oh, and squeezing parasitic worms out of Jason's hip gave some entertainment for the afternoon, much to the horror of most of the travelling party (amusement of some). There were subsequently some very paranoid travellers after this, with every bite mark a potential infestation!
The last day was another transit day, travelling through the Kalahari keeping our eyes out for Meer Cats - to no avail. We arrived at a reasonable time at Francistown, allowing a quick shopping trip to spend our last Botswanian Pula before setting up camp. We had the luxury of a sumptuous meal of steak and garlic bread provided by the restaurant. The campground itself was a bit of a redneck hunter's hangout, but the beers were cold, the rugby was on TV and a game of darts and pool was calling. Tomorrow we venture to South Africa, our last African country of the trip!
There are more photos below