Overland Days 57 – 62: Botswana & Namibia
The first thing I love about travelling solo: I have time! Time to lie on my bed and do fuck all; time to read a magazine; time to pop into an internet cafe; time to update my blog. Woohoo! As much as I loved the experience of travelling with a group and tour leader, we were always moving on someone else’s schedule. Now I can make up my own 🙂 So without further ado, the following is a catch up of the last three weeks of Africa. Actually, that would be too darn long to read so I’ll split it up into three posts for you because I’m nice like that.
Long drive day today so relatively uneventful. We made it to Sedia Hotel in Maun (Botswana) by the afternoon but first port of call was the shopping centre – where they had a Nando’s! It’s so strange to start seeing these chains from back home. Exciting too; I’ve had more than my fair share of chips and/or samosas for lunch now, with the odd variant of a chip omelette. Yummy?
My truck buddy Anand has written an awesome post about his foray into fast food in Africa. Like him, fast food wasn’t my thing back home… and then I got to Africa and nurtured my inner grease-loving fatty whenever possible.
Day one of a two-day bush camp at the Okavango Delta. We were up nice and early to get all our kitchen equipment and tents together (we had to leave the truck behind), ready to load into the trailers when the jeeps arrived. As for our own packing, there wasn’t much point in taking anything other than a tonne of wet wipes and our sleeping stuff so that didn’t take long. As soon as we got to the delta we were greeted by a crowd of people and their ‘mokoro’s (dug-out canoes), and promptly paired up then piled into our canoes. Emily and I, both afraid of boats, paired up (in hindsight, perhaps not the best idea) and were lucky enough to get an awesome poler called Papiyou who thought it would be funny to rock the boat as soon as he found out we didn’t like the water. He was pretty awesome though, especially compared to some of the stoney-faced polers the others got!
The waterways of the delta are spectacular – clear water, huge water lilies everywhere, nothing but the sound of the oars in the water and the birds flying by. The only real downside is that you get smacked in the face by reeds every few seconds. Oh and there are crocs and hippos about.
As we unpacked our stuff onto the island that was to be our camp for two nights, it soon became apparent that a couple of my and Emily’s bags had gone missing. Somehow they had been placed into another mokoro and unfortunately Papiyou didn’t know where that had gone. Many phonecalls and several hours later, the stuff turned up – somehow it had been left back at the shoreline!
The one thing we soon found out about the delta is that it is disgustingly hot in the afternoon and therefore you do nothing. Most of us had a horribly sweaty nap in our tents before it was time for an evening bush walk. Not much to say about that walk; the most exciting thing I saw was an ‘ant lion’, an insect the size of a grain of rice that eats ants, and a pile of elephant bones. This is going to sound terrible of me but once you’ve witnessed both a lion and cheetah hunt in one day, it’s going to take something spectacular for any safari to outdo that. After the walk we made dinner and then, given the lack of light, most of us were in bed by 9pm.
Early start for another bush walk. Once again we didn’t really see much, although we did come across some leopard footprints and followed those for a while. We did make our own fun though:
The group I was walking with finished before the others did, so our guide decided it would be a good idea to pack all of us into the same mokoro rather than wait for the others. That means that in a mokoro which is supposed to carry two people and one poler, there were five people and one poler. Hmmm. Once we were all in, the side of the canoe was about an inch away from the water and we were all shitting ourselves. Not only were there lovely animals in the water, but also none of us wanted to get ourselves or our cameras wet. That led to a very sombre ride back to the island, with shouts from everyone if someone so much as breathed too deeply. We made it back alive and dry though 🙂
Spent another afternoon on the island. By this point we were a bit annoyed with some of our guides who weren’t really interacting with us and in some cases being outright rude. We decided to make our own fun: some people made things out of leaves, sticks and random bits they found lying around on the ground – the finished pieces included an effigy of our guide Alun and his lady-friend, some woven bracelets and rings, and a bouquet/broom; others took part in a down ball (like tennis but using hands instead of a rackets) tournament. Went on a sunset mokoro ride in the evening, followed by dinner. I also distinctly remember eating a lot, including marshmallows over the fire. Yum!
We were supposed to have another bush walk this morning but given how little we had seen and how unimpressed with some of our guides we were, we decided to skip it and head straight back to camp in Maun. Spent a bit of time shopping in town then had a buffet by the pool for dinner. A local dance group also gave a fantastic performance, which naturally included most of us trying to dance like them but looking like idiots instead.
Time for another bush camp … and another fancy dress party! To make our trip a little bit more fun, one of the girls had suggested a ‘B’ themed party. After a day’s drive we pulled up into a quarry; normally great bush camp material, now a quarry in use. Oopsy. We drove a little further past and set up camp in a forest of sorts, which was infested with cicadas as we were soon to find out. I was on cook group and spent most of clean-up time dodging cicadas enamoured with my headlight 🙁 Damn things were huge! People had some great dress up ideas: Bob Marley, Barbie, a bee (me), a burglar, a bear, the Bombay brothers (two guys in turbans and little else) …
Long driving day and crossed over into Namibia – the best immigration office we’ve seen so far. Civilisation, here we come! Another bush camp. Botswana and Namibia are super hot; I spent most of the day daydreaming about having a shower, then I dreamt about having one at night.