Botswana on Nomad tours

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Africa » Botswana » Ghanzi District » Ghanzi
July 11th 2011
Published: August 4th 2011
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Next morning we were up early, had the included brekky and took a taxi to the Safari hotel where our tour was supposed to leave from. Once on the truck with 2 germans that were also waiting for the Nomad truck, we filled all the forms in and everyone introduced themselves. The truck had started in Cape Town and we were just along for the 8 days to Vic Falls. Unfortunately someone got their wires crossed and the truck then went to chameleon to pick us up!! So we wasted $60N to get to the safari!! Then we were told we couldn’t stop in Windhoek CBD to take out and exchange money, so we only had about $200 Namibian left. We were told we needed US dollars for the local payment but the guide said in Botswana we can work it out and not to worry. When we stopped in a town, we had gone from bank to bank but no one had US dollars, but we exchanged Namibian for Rand since apparently no one like Namibian outside Namibia. We had lunch close to the border, then off we went to the border and got stamped out of Namibia and into Botswana. We drove a few more hours to get to the Ghanzi Trail Blazers camp site run by bushmen. We were taught how to set up our tent and got our mattresses from the truck and set up everything inside our tent. We had showers which were interesting as they had no doors, but an alcove so you couldn’t see anyone inside, and you just put a chain up outside to show it was occupied. The showers were great, heated by a fire under a big drum of water. Dinner was started, a chicken stew being cooked over the fire. After 7.30 we were called over to the tiny bar area of the camp where there were 2 fires set up, one with 5 bushmen-women sitting crosslegged with one baby and 5 men dressed in skins and they had seed pods that rattled tied to their lower legs. There was a another truck load of people there, so we ended up without seats, but the bushmen put on a show for us. The women clapped the beat and sang and the men danced and sang too. There was a translator who translated the bushmen introduction to us about their culture and a bit about each song. Each song was about a certain animal, the best were the python song, where they acted out hunting a giant python (one man slithered on the ground and hissed) and one about baboons where they got 2 guys from our group to dance, was hilarious!! They all acted like baboons too!
After the dancing we had dinner, yummy stew, rice and veggies. We sat around the fire and Patrick, our driver and the man in charge gave us a briefing about the next few days. There is also another guy named Janas who does cooking and helps out and guides a bit too. We went to bed after that.
Next morning we were up at packed and eating brekky by 8.30, at 9.30 a group who had gone on a walk with the bushmen came back and we left. We drove to a campsite called Situtanga, near Maun. We set up camp and had lunch before heading into the town of Maun for shopping, internet and banking etc. More than half the group were going on a flight over the Okovango delta, but we didn’t want to spend the money on it since we were spending the next 2 days in the delta. We hung around in town until 6pm when they picked us up and we returned to camp. Every camp site always has a big fire and we get out the folding camp chairs and sit around and eat and talk. Dinner was delicious fish, salad and mash, plus we had all put money in for a punch to be made… it ended up being pretty strong! A bunch of us went and played volleyball on the court next to the bar of the campsite, aussies (there are 4 of us), 2 brits and Janas (who is south African) against a mix of dutch, germans and Patrick (who is from Zimbabwe). We won the first match, but the games got steadily worse as more punch was consumed. We went to bed late and had to get up at 6am, so everyone was tired the next morning. We had to pack up camp and be ready to leave with our daypacks with everything we needed for 2 nights in the delta, and our sleeping bags.
At 6.45 the truck that was taking us to the delta picked us up, we loaded everything on then climbed in. The tents, mattresses and 2 days worth of food was crammed on and we had to kind of sit on top of it all. Patrick was staying with the overlanding truck in the campsite and Janas was coming with us. The drive took an hour to the edge of the delta where we were put into little dug out canoes called Mokoros. Half are the old wooden dugouts and half are new fiberglass versions that last longer. They are steered by poling… kind of like in venice. Our Poler was named Andrew and he was also the lead guide for our group for the next few days. We had to put some luggage near the back of the boat then put one mattress in with the luggage as a backrest, then more luggage in front of that person to be the backrest of the person in the front, with their mattress. I sat in the front, Dario behind me and Andrew stood at the back to pole us to our destination over an hour away. The Delta is beautiful! There are tall reeds everywhere that we push our way through, getting the occasional spider
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With Andrew, our poler and also the head guide for the 3 days.
web in the face, but Andrew assures us that there are no dangerous spiders here. One giant spider lands in front of me, white all over, runs to the side and jumps into the water to climb a reed and rebuild her web. There are also lots of little flies that don’t bite, but tend to fly into noses, ears and mouths! There are some mosquitoes, but there are many more at dusk. We arrive at an island where the polers who had taken just luggage, the tents and food etc, are already chopping down small trees to make more room for the 9 tents of ours plus their couple of tents to go up. They dig a toilet 50m from the site behind a bush, and the occupied sign becomes the shovel not leaning on a tree nearby camp. The fire place is cleared and giant logs are brought in to light it up. A fiberglass mokoro is pulled out of the water to be flipped over and used as a kitchen bench, camp is ready.
We have lunch and spend the early afternoon just reading, sunbathing or learning to pole one of the Mokoros which is much harder than it looks! At 4.30 we pile into some mokoros and the polers take us across the river to another island to go for a nature walk. There are 3 certified guides in the group of polers so we split into 3 groups and walk in different directions on the island. Our guide is Andrew. He explains a lot about the plants, and the dung that we find everywhere, which animals, what they eat etc, and there are lot sof holes everywhere that we had to watch out for that are dug by Ardvarks looking for ants and termites. We saw a herd of elephants crossing from a nearby Island to the one we were on which was cool, the babies almost disappeared under water at one point and all you could see was the trunk! We go back to our island around sunset and Janas is already cooking dinner for us. We have a totally vegetarian meal of Pup (maize meal that is boiled and made into a type of mashy substance) with a yummy sauce, carrot and pineapple salad and cornbread and mashed potatoes. We sit around a chat but we head off to bed early.
Next morning we have to get up at 6.30 to have a coffee or tea before going on a 3 hour wildlife walk. Unfortunately we again don’t see much, but we did see two Steenbok (very small antelope) running away from us. We do a lot more looking at dung and plants, and Andrew manages to throw a rock at some fruit in a palm tree so they fall and we can try them… tasted nice but the texture was like trying to eat a toothbrush! We sat on top of an anthill for a while peering into the distance to see what we could see, but only saw birds, bugs and lots of grass. We could hear hippos though.
We got back to camp at about 10.30, starving, but had to wait over an hour for brunch. It was worth the wait, sausages, scrambled eggs and yummy muesli. We all ate way more than we should have and sat lazily around camp for the following few hours. Early in the afternoon a bunch of us went swimming in the middle of the section of water near camp, the deepest part, but you could still feel the lilies under the water. The brand new Sony waterproof camera that we had that had worked perfectly while diving with great white sharks, decided it was no longer waterproof despite us doing everything according to instructions and carked it while we took photos in the water!! We were not happy. Dario was trying to climb back into a Mokoro that was being steered by a poler and he managed to flip it and the poor guy fell in, along with our dry clothes and Alana´s dry towel. Very funny!! But Alana lost a t-shirt and a pair of sunnies from the accident as they must have sunk to the bottom. After drying off, and reading a lot, a few of us played celebrity heads and Dario and a few others tried playing a popular botswanan card game with the polers, but apparently in every round, he tried a smart move and got told it was against the rules so got pretty frustrated believing they were just making up rules as they went along.
During the afternoon I had had my frog ID book and reptile book out and one of the polers named Brighton asked if he could buy the reptile one off me. We ended up trading the book for some of the bracelets they were selling. That afternoon at 4.30 we piled into the mokoros again and went on a sunset cruise up the river to a big open pool area that contained 2 hippos. We didn’t go close to them, and just sank back into the reeds to watch them. We eventually got out onto the bank of an island and climbed a tree to get a good view. The tree had a skeleton of an Impala in it which told us that a Leopard had once sat there and eaten it. At the final time of sunset we loaded up again and made our way back to the camp where Janas was once again cooking dinner. This time we waited 2 hours (all very hungry) for a delicious curry and rice and potato bake. The polers then gave us a show, singing beautifully for us and dancing. Then Brighton showed us some riddle tricks in the sand which were very funny. Then we went to bed.
Next morning we got up early again (4 people slept in though) and those of us who wanted to, went
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they are HUGE trees!
in the Mokoros to another island nearby to do another wildlife walk. This time there were only 2 guides, we walked a fair way before spotting some Zebras and a red springbok ran away through the long grass. We saw some big bones that had been chewed by spotted hyenas, probably a giraffe leg bone and the skull of a water buffalo that had been incorporated into an anthill. We went back to camp and ate brekky before stripping down the camp and loading everything into the mokoros the same way as the day we arrived and got poled back to the station (as they called it) where the truck was waiting for us. There were 2 other groups of people waiting for their trucks but ours was waiting for us which was nice. We loaded it up and said our goodbyes and off we went. The driver gave us an esky full of drinks so half of us had a coke and half had a beer on the bumpy road back to the camp. We passed so many donkeys and cows on the way too. Many times on the busy road between camps we´ve had to slow down as they cross the road and there are no fences to keep them off the road. At camp we all had showers and ate lunch before packing into the overlanding truck and heading on to our next campsite called Planet Baobab. On the drive there we passed through a national park and saw lots of zebra and wildebeest on the side of the road. We also saw a pair of Ostriches and a dead wildebeest on the side of the road being eaten by vultures.
Planet Baobab was very cool, there are of course lots of big baobab trees in the campsite. Once we arrived Patrick gave us a security talk to keep all valuables locked up in the truck or with your person as at the previous campsite 2 of the other trucks were broken into and he thinks the only reason that his wasn’t was because he fell asleep in his tent with the radio on, so the theif probably thought he was still awake. We were all a bit shocked, but all he said was, this is Africa! We had to sign indemnity forms at the baobab campsite in the amazing bar that had cowhide chairs and chandeliers made of beer bottles. The power was out but a generator was supplying the power for the site until late at night. We managed to plug everything that needed to be charged into the 3 power points at the camp area we were in, we played music from our laptop while we played a game of texas holdem poker using macaroni and spaghetti as chips. Dinner was macaroni cheese and salad. Patrtick gave us a rundown of the next few days, including some of the activities available once we get to Vic falls on Sunday then a few people went to the bar while we chatted about Zimbabwe to Patrick and he told us stories of the inflation and being a trillionair (but of course that meant nothing since a trillion could buy about a loaf of bread at one point. We went to bed after having a milo.
Next morning we were up at 6.30 for brekky and packing up to move to the next campsite near Kasane. We saw some more game on the side of the road on the way. We arrived in Kasane and set up for lunch. I did some laundry after we set up the tents and we hung it out. That afternoon we all stocked up on a few drinks before Patrick drove us to our Chobe national park sunset cruise dock. The boat was like a big barge with a roof and couldn’t go very fast. There was our group and about 25 other people on board. We stopped quickly at the entrance to the national park, a small jetty with the office on it and then entered that part of the river. There were so many boats! But it wasn’t too bad because there were so many animals. We first stopped near one side to see a family of baboons, some crocs and some water monitors lying in the sun. Then further along there were big bachelor buffalo. In the middle of the river there sre some large grassy islands that were full of elephants and birds, and the hippos lined the shores, just sticking the tops of their heads and backs out. Some were walking on the shore later in the cruise as it cooled down. There were some truly giant crocodiles too, Nile crocodiles. As the sun set over the park there was a huge influx of birds flying to their roosts and it took over the whole pinky-orange sky, it was amazing!! Just hovering off the banks were pied kingfishers which hover then plunge into the water suddenly to catch a fish, very cool to watch!
We arrived back at the dock and Patrick was waiting for us and we had to rush off since he had left the stove on. He was cooking our last meal together! It was delicious, beef stew, and a weird but yummy custard, banana and biscuit dessert. We all sat around the campfire and a few of his mates from other trucks came and had some beers and were very funny and loud! Finally we went to bed. Next morning we had brekky at 7ish, but had to wait until 9 to leave since 2 people had opted to do a sunrise game drive in Chobe. We made it to the border with Zimbabwe very quickly since it was only 15km away.


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