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Published: June 11th 2008
Crossing the Zambezi and Chobe to Botswana
After my daring jumps from the Vic Falls bridge we headed from Zambia into Botswana. The border of these two countries is the Zambezi River. This is the only border crossing in Africa where you can take pictures. We left Zambia and boarded a small ferry to cross the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers into Botswana. The two rivers converge at the crossing before heading for the gorge and Victoria Falls.
We ended up leaving our truck on the other side as the ferries had a "breakdown of service" meaning it couldn't get across for a few hours. So with little money in our pockets we took taxis into town and then to the campsite. We arrived at the campsite still without a truck so we headed for the sunset cruise hoping our sleeping bags, tents and worldly belongings would turn up before long.. not to mention our only means of transportation.
Our sunset/game cruise was on the Chobe River and in the National Park itself. Quite a different way to view a game reserve and highly recommended. On the boat we got a really up close and personal view to the game. Our first sighting was a water monitor
Travelling like Africans
How many people can you squeeze in a taxi minivan?
which everyone mistook for a crocodile ,as it was so big, the sightings continued with babbons and Greater Kudu (the biggest deer type animal I have every seen). As we continued into the park we found a few elephants who were evidently desperate for their evening drink but a bit scared of the boat. As we switched the engine off they quickly overcame their nervousness and came to the river to drink. After they had their fill they proceeded to dig up the banks with their heels to create mud which they then sprayed all over their bodies.
We had a quick glimpse of a whole herd before seeing them run for the river about 60 elephant strong. What an amazing sight. They were a breeding herd composed of mothers and babies (some of which must have been only a few months old). We just sat in amazement at such beautiful animals. We saw more elephants swimming out to deep water with their trunks in the air and the rest of their bodies submerged in order to get to the tender grasses further out. Such smart animals. They pull up the grasses and wash them in the water by
swishing them back and forth before eating them. We rounded out the cruise with more hippos than I could count making some awful noise and a beautiful sunset over the river.
We arrived back to camp to find our truck had arrived and that the game drive started at 5:45am the next day. We awoke the next morning in the freezing cold and put on all the layers that we had brought with us for our morning game drive. Ev of course was fine as due to his current disability he got to sit in the front cab with full heating whilst I sat in the back freezing!! The game drive was pretty disappointing however we did get to see some Cape Buffalo very close up.
The next day we packed up camp and headed for Maun (the gateway to the Okavango Delta). We had to stop at a number of foot and mouth checkpoints on the way as it is a big problem in Botswana. They do all the can to keep the disease away from the Buffalo herds and of course their cattle.
From Maun we headed into the Delta. We woke up early to
get on another truck (again without any windbreak) and froze on our drive to the Mokoro point. Along the way we stopped at a graveyard for a little lesson on HIV in Botswana. The infection rate in this country is 55% of the total population. The percentage of those infected between the ages of 18-35 is more around the 80% mark. A staggering figure. As we started to look at the gravestones we could see how young most of the people were who were buried there. They reckon over the next 10 years the average lifespan in the country will be 29. Can you imagine. They contribute this high level of infection to the polygomy still actively practiced in the country and not lack of education or protection available. Every bank, border crossing etc have free condoms available but it's simply not working to stop the spread of this horrific disease.
After our stop we continued to the Mokoro point where we would continue into the Delta. A mokoro is a small dugout canoe. Two people per mokoro and once loaded we sat about 1 inch above the surface of the water. Very nerve racking at first as I
didn't want to fall in but such a relaxing ride. You glid through the reeds courtesy of your poler. I found that no matter how I fought I couldn't help but have a little nap. We arrived in the heat of the day to our bush camp on an island. Our bushcamp consisted of a hole in the ground for a toliet, no showers and a campfire. It was an amazing experience to camp so basically. After the heat of the day passed we headed out on a nature walk (walking safari). We spotted some zebra and elephant but more than that it was just amazing to think that we were walking in the Okavango Delta in the middle of Botswana. After our walk we hopped back in the mokoros (sitting up .. not a good idea) and headed for the hippo pools. After getting entirely too close to the hippos we headed back to camp for the night. A trip to the bush toliet gave a thrilling end to the day as the guides warned us not to get eaten as we squatted. This announcement had me frantically shining my headlamp around the bush to catch any gleaming eyes
as i rushed to do my business. Definitely not the most relaxing way to answer the call of nature!
The next morning we awoke early for our last game walk and then back into the mokoros for our journey back to camp. Such an amazing experience that I would recommend to everyone.
From Maun we headed for Ghenzi the land of the Kalahari Bushmen. We had a walk and demonstration from them of their traditional techniques for making fire, finding vegetables and fruit in what seems like a barren landscape and got to hear their language made up of clicks.
Our final night in Botswana was spent a traditional hut made from dung before heading to Namibia. We arrived to Windhoek today which is a more modern city that any we have seen so far.
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