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Published: October 31st 2013
Back on the road again and back to Africa again, this time further south than previously. Another whistle-stop tour encompassing some of the highlights (to me at least) of South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The main aim of this trip was to tick 3 things off my bucket list, swimming with Manta Rays (and hopefully whale sharks), going on safari to the Okavango Delta in Botswana and to go Cage Diving with Great White Sharks, the rest of the trip is a bit of an adventure getting between these places. I could have taken the easy route and caught flights, but the cost would have been extortionate ( there are very few bargain air routes in southern Africa) and it would be too easy, the other option would be to go on Overland Tour, but I really wanted to go off the beaten path and plus none of the ones I looked at went to Tofo in Mozambique (for the whale sharks).
The trip from my house to Joburg took 30 hours, this was mainly because I had to wait 10 hours at Dubai for my connecting flight! I was treated on the flight from Manchester to Dubai as
it was on the Airbus A380 double-decker, the quietest and best aircraft in the air.
After an uneventful flight to Joburg I was picked up by Rob from the hostel which is only 5 mins away from the airport. The hostel was cheap and cheerful but it did run out of beer, which is unforgiveable!!
I didn’t get much sleep but nethertheless the next day I was off on another flight to Maun in Botswana from where the holiday started proper.
After an uneventful flight to Maun in Botswana I wandered round trying to discover the transport options as there didn’t seem to be any I hitch-hiked and ended up on the back of a pick-up truck being driven to the door of my hostel which was very considerate. I was staying at the old bridge backpacker which was a really nice place overlooking one of the many waterways that make up the Okavango delta. I spent 3 great nights here, much of it out on the water, the first trip was a sunset ride out over the delta and then the next day I went on a Mokoro trip, this is a canoe fashioned
out of a tree, although nowadays they tend to use fibreglass. There was two of us from the hostel who headed out on the Mokoros, I was joined by a German girl who was studying to be a doctor, that didn’t help as she was frightened of everything and kept explaining what the dangers of every activity I was involved with, I’m suer she would mellow out after a few weeks in Africa.
I had originally wanted to go on a motorised safari instead of the Mokoro trip but as I was on my own it proved extremely difficult to join an existing tour. I knew this might have been the case so I wrote to the backpackers asking when their own organised safaris would be departing and how difficult it would be to join a safari. Despite sending several reminders they never got back to me, in hindsight I would have missed the delta and gone straight to Chobe. So I wasted a whole day trying to get myself on a safari but it was all a waste of time.
The Okavango is the only inland river delta, all the other deltas empty into the sea, it
was very peacefull to be punted along in the Mokoros, we had a canoe each and the pollers used their poles to push us forward through the waterways. After around 2 and a half hours we reached our destination and made camp for the night. I had chosen the self-catering option as it was less than half the fully catered option and I wouldn’t have expected much being veggie anyway. Once we had set up our tents I went for a swim in the river, I had to keep an eye out for crocodiles as two tourists had been eaten by crocs in this area the previous week!!
After my ablutions in the river we headed out on a walking safari and saw lots of elephants and zebras, obviously I wanted to get closer to the elephants as they were a good 500 metres away but without the protection of a jeep the guides were unwilling to do so.
An hour or so later an Aussie family joined us and we had a good chat after lunch, I was enviously eyeing up their food, I had bought some fat cake from some locals which is a greasier form
of doughnuts but with no whole in the middle, not especially tasty but quite filling. The catered option even had wine! I held my desires in check and didn’t accept anything offered as it could cause ill-feeling, but felt healthy as I had a booze free night, which is very rare for me!
The next day we headed off on another walking tour but saw mostly dead things, one being an elephant of which most of it had been devoured by various wildlife, the stench was horrendous!! We also saw a dead zebra which was fully intact so it must have only been killed very recently. After the walk I was back in the mokoro being punted back to the hostel at Maun. The next day I was on the first of my many horrendous bus journeys, this time to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
] Boring bits
Flights – Manchester to Johannesburg – Emirates
Joburg to Maun, Botswana – Air Botswana – approx £80
Hostel – Joburg – Shoestrings airport hostel, Rob picks you up and drops you off from the airport, which is nice of him.
Maun – Old Bridge backpackers
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