Another long drive through Zimbabwe back through Victoria falls to border crossing to Botswana. Despite pessimistic warnings that it could take 2 hours or more, and failure to produce adequate yellow fever vaccine documentation would mean being refused entry, a very cursory glance at the cover (without even opening card) and we were through in 5 minutes. She must have been in a good mood. No sexist, hormonal jokes here, by the way. G adventures had been seriously lax at updating the recently changed rules, despite our CEO (Chief ExperienceOfficer) having been told of this, resulting in several of our group having to make very rushed and costly arrangements to get this documentation. I was somewhat shocked to subsequently learn that they had been issued with false documentation, including batch numbers and expiry dates without actually being given the vaccine! This privilege cost them $40 for a fraudulent card which immigration didn’t even look at. But that’s Zimbabwe, competing for world leader in corruption. Hopefully will change with Mugagbwe departure. God knows this bankrupt country needs some good fortune. Not that HE’ll do much about it. Hopefully the people will.
Anyway, the first few miles in Botswana already hinted at a
much more prosperous economy. In fact it has the strongest economy in Africa, thanks to diamonds, a strong, honest democratic government, and no history of war in living memory at least. There you go, world, that’s how it works. Do it.
On the down side, our lodge (Tilodi) was 45 mins drive from the Chobe river, where our next 3 trips were to take place. Two of the trips were on minibuses, but one was on an open, elderly, cramped and dangerous safari landrover. We had to fold our legs up to our chests, or sit sideways, there were no seat belts, and the wipers didn’t work. At 6am start, the condensation blocked all view except for the small area the driver cleared with his hand by leaning out the vehicle. Most of this journey was over narrow potholed and bumpy dirt tracks. They call it African massage. I call it…….never mind, this is a family show. Between all the trips, we spent 7 hours travelling back and foreword when there were loads of lodges right beside the river.
The lodge itself was very remote and had no view other than dense bush metres from the fence. The staff and
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...
the catering was lovely, and they laid on a Boma on the last night, with local people putting on a superb traditional song and tribal dance display. The lodge accommodation unfortunately was tired and tatty, with concrete floor, poor fitting unlock able doors, broken fan with exposed wiring, non functioning lights, gecko droppings, cockroaches in bath, and mice running around bedroom at night. Complaints fell on deaf ears, with our CEO being very dismissive. Fiona and Adrian, our young Irish honeymooners, demanded an upgrade. They seriously considered ending there trip then and there, but were upgraded to a barely improved room. We later found out that the CEO had awarded himself the best room! Feedback and tip adjustment awaits. Poorer than anything in our previous 7 weeks of adventure travel. Nobody was happy.
That aside, our riverside and boat safaris were great, with many sightings, including hippos in and out of water, elephants, lions, buffalo, warthog, mongoose, crocs, etc and more bird species than I could count. The final safari was a photographer boat safari where we were provided with mounted SLR cameras with lens longer than an aardvarks nose, costing over$2000 apiece. Needless to say we were not let
Tilodi lodge roommates
Part 1....I’ll spare you the gecko poo and nice pics
loose with these before having some expert tuition. We got some terrific close up wildlife shots, and one of Africa’s famous and stunning sunsets. We got the data cards to take home. I hope I can find mine!!
We left after 2 days and nights praying that our next, and final lodge would better. Otherwise a mutiny was predicted and GAdventures were about to lose 11 customers!
Onward and upward. Hopefully!
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