Geo: -19.0933, 22.4451
The next few entries in our blog will be about our G Adventure overland trip. This one, the first of three or four entries, sees us travel by air from Arusha, Tanzania through Kigali and Johannesburg to Livingstone where Victoria Falls sits on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. After a day in Livingstone, we continued our 21-day-trip-in-a-truck and journeyed to Chobe National Park, the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari Desert in Botswana.
In order to reduce the cost of our flight from Arusha to Livingstone, which should have been about a 3 hour flight, we flew for 18 hours through the night including two 5-hour stopovers. Upon arrival, we were as exhausted as our new travel-mates who had come from other continents! Our tour began with a preliminary gathering, meeting our fearless leader Wendy and our driver Stephan, both from South Africa. Feeling tentative about living with a group of 12 people for three weeks of mostly camping, we were hopeful for an easy crowd. Diving into the group experience we went out for dinner, relaxing into a social time where we began to get a sense this collection of people from Canada, Spain, England, Brazil, Norway, Holland, France,
Victoria Falls at the end of the rainy season is a sight to be seen…or not, really, because the Zambezi river was so full that the mist created by the massive amount of water careening over the edge masked the falls almost completely. We frolicked in the spray of the falls, getting soaked to the skin. Well, I did while Jim diligently protected his camera under a rented rain poncho. Anytime there was a moment when the falls emerged through the spray, he would sneak as many photos as he could without risking water on his camera. Although there are unending adventure activities in which to partake (flights, bungee jumping, zip-lining, etc.) around the falls, we spent the entire day wandering, mesmerized by the rainbows, power and beauty of this Seventh Natural Wonder of the World.
Our first day travelling in 'Zambezi', our new home/truck in which we would be spending many hours, everyone was full of anticipation of what lay ahead quite like a bunch of kids heading to summer camp. The group was in its ‘forming' stage with many travel and getting-to-know-you conversations penetrating through the drone of the truck as we barely put a dent in the
5200 km journey upon which we were embarking. We crossed the Zambia/Botswana border, at the confluence of Chobe and Zambezi rivers. Following an afternoon in the hot sun soaking in our campsite pool, our first excursion was a river cruise siting elephants and hippos playing in and around the water and a gorgeous sunset over the Chobe.
Up bright and early at 4:45am, we packed up our tents and boarded a game drive vehicle and searched Chobe National Park for wildlife. The best part was when we were alerted by a couple of guides that there were a few male lions in a specific vicinity and we came upon a tour group setting up a picnic. Our guide warned them of the sitings, turned to us and said, "I had to tell them; it'd be a real blow to tourism if something happened." Yes, it would! Unfortunately, we never saw the lions however we did see many amazing birds and animals (kudu, the ‘Chobe chicken', giraffes, crocodiles, warthogs, hippos, elephants and more). And, as far as I know, the picnickers made it out unscathed.
After a very long drive to Gweta with a stop for lunch under a sign that said,
“DISCLAIMER - this is a wildlife area. You are stopping here at your own risk”, we arrived at Planet Baobab campsite and set up camp under baobab trees and an almost full moon. Up at 5:30am the following day, our next stop was one of the best experiences of the trip. We were 'poled', by our new friend Tony, in a mokoro boat through part of the Okavango Delta to a bush camp. Our evening walk amongst the zebras followed by a campfire under the full moon and singing, dancing, doing the limbo and trying out slack lining with the folks from Boro village who guided the trip, was an truly unique experience. Many of us did not speak the same language yet we enjoyed an evening of each other's company communicating in many other ways.
A couple more days of travel and camping including a bush walk and bush dance performance by the San people of the Kalihari desert, and on Day 8 we arrived in the city of Windhoek, Namibia. We were staying in a hotel and going out for dinner! What a treat after what seemed like a very long time sleeping in a tent. The excitement was
palpable. And we got the only rain of the entire trip during that day and night. How lucky! After a nice shower, getting a small laundry done in the sink, catching up on emails and phone calls home, we headed out to Joe's Beer House where game meat is the specialty on the menu. Jim and I shared a delightful dish with oryx, zebra and springbok. We were sad to say goodbye to 7 of our group but we picked up 4 new members making our new smaller group of 9 for the remainder of the trip.
This overland trip has proved to be easier than I had originally thought it would be. The camping is actually fantastic with our tent's skylight roof and the comfy mats. The people are great and although we sometimes feel rushed and get tired of packing and unpacking, we are seeing a lot of countryside and having experiences that are unforgettable.
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