It was a rough start in Botswana. We were all hungover from Raymond’s birthday the night before. And it was a loooooong hot day in the truck. Shortly after crossing the border we stopped in a town and waited outside the only store in it to open to grab shitty hangover cure food. Every so often we’d have to stop and go through these foot and mouth disease checks, we’d have to step off the truck and have a spare pair of shoes in our hands, you’d step on this damp mat with whatever chemicals in it, you’d have to dip the shoes in your hand in a barrel full of whatever you stepped in, the truck would have to drive through a vat of those chemicals and then we’d get back on and carry on on our merry way. Not what you wanna do when your hungover and it’s hot out. So that day we camped right outside of lovely Maun, Botswana. From there we’d adventure into the Okavango Delta. So there’s not much to say about Maun. So I’m not going to get into it. The next morning we all hopped on a boat to head into the delta. The Okavango delta is according to some is the largest inland delta in the world, some things will tell you that it’s the second biggest. The big thing to take away here is that it’s pretty damn big. It is where the Okavango River traveled down from the Angolan Highlands and toward the Kalahari Desert. There are tons of islands scattered throughout the delta, with wildlife. When we got ready to hop on the boat it started pouring rain. We set off on a speed boat from our camp and headed up into the delta where we were dropped off on another island and went by mokoro to where we would be bush camping for the next two days. Mokoros are small boats similar to canoes. Two of us sat in the front of the mokoro and each had a local on the back (they call them polers) who push the pole against the bottom of the delta to propel you forward.
When we arrived at the island we were camping on the rain was finally starting to let up. Our guide gave us a quick tour around the camp. You’re instructed to put your tents at least a meter apart so that elephants and hippos can get between tents in the night. Great… A potential hippo attack, haha. The toilet: a hole dug in the ground that you squat over. I spent most of the first 15 years of my life mostly outside, shitting in holes so this didn’t phase me one bit. Then we got brought down to the swimminghole. According to our guide there aren’t hippos in that particular area… But the waters super clean. Locals drink it straight outtta the delta. By that point in the afternoon the sun was finally coming out, so we all decided to change into our swimsuits and hop in. But, strength in numbers… I don’t wanna get eaten by anything alone.
We spent a lot of the afternoon splashing around out there and catching little fish in our hands. We headed back to camp a little while later and all tried out poling. That’s exhausting, but fun. Later that day we went on a short game walk. Saw some hippos and by the time we got back the rain was on its way back in. It rained all through the night and poured the entire time on our game walk. It was pretty miserable, and the negative to it is that animals don’t fancy being out in the rain either.
We saw an elephant, a couple giraffe and some wildebeest. And a ton of cows. Ben renamed it the Okavango ranch.
It poured Rain the entire day and finally about an hour or so before sunset the rain let up and we headed out on a mokoro ride to another island.
That night when we arrived back at camp all the local polers and our guide sang to us around the campfire. That’s where the beauuuuutiful Boooooootswana comes from. The next morning we headed back out on mokoro to the first island, visited the villiage and then grabbed out speedboat back to good ol Maun.
The next day we packed up to drive across northern Botswana, not before I received a text message from my friend Geena back home at work informing me that my boss had decided I was not to come back to work until a month had passed after me departing Africa because according to him “it was a liability for me to come to work for fear that I could spread the Ebola virus”. Geena and the girls had fought with him prior to this message about how ridiculous he was being, but good ol American fear mongering had set in and there was no changing his mind. Even after sending him this lovely map below depicting the 2014 Ebola outbreak… And the fact that Spain was closer to the outbreak than anywhere I was traveling to.
Lovely. So if I had known this in the first place I would have booked a side trip after my African Safari to a nice beach in Asia to finish out my job-required quarantine. Anyways back on topic… We were headed across Botswana to a town called Kasane to grab supplies and head off to our next camp just outside of Chobe National Park. The next day we got up packed overnight bags and were picked up by our game drive truck and would do a long game drive all day today and then bush camp overnight.
Chobe National Park Round I:
We actually go into this park twice, this time I will talk about the first go around. When we do leave after round one we go over into Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and lose a few of our group and gain a couple new ones we go back into Botswana for another round at Chobe before crossing over into Zambia.
We went into the park on the north side. Chobe national park sits on the Chobe River, and where we went in is near where Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe meet. Chobe has one of the highest concentration of game in all of Africa.
As we started out game drive it started as a nice sunny day. The weather was quite nice into the afternoon, finally around sundown he wind, rain and lightning started up.
Finally we come across the pride of lions as the weather gets super shitty. We stayed near to the lions for a while before havin to throw in the towel because weather was getting too bad. We did however, get to watch the lions stalk and unsuccessfully hunt three Impala.
We finally arrived at camp and it was pouring rain. We all sat under a large tent for the night. There were scorpions all over the ground. Ben, Lorraine and I stayed up later than everyone else polishing off a bottle of Amarula. Lorraine and I went to use our nice (in comparison to our bush toilet over at the Okavango ranch) bush toilets before bed. There was a bucket to sit on and a nice little tent around it. Faaaaancy. I go in one, Lorraine in the other. Lorraine starts screaming and I hear Ben head over there. Her were scorpions all around her feet. Meanwhile I’m over in my nice little toilet and whoosh, a huge gust of wind comes and blows the tent right up and over and I go running with my pants around my ankle. Ben and Lorraine got a good laugh outta that. The next morning we went back to our camp outside of Kasane while doing a game drive on the way out.
From Kasane we go up to the border with Zimbabwe to stand around in the heat for hours waiting for the horribly long Zimbabwe visa regime to process us and let us in.
Chobe national park round II:
So we picked up two Aussies, an American, and a Canadian in Victoria falls before heading back into Botswana. Turns out it’s a hell of a lot easier to leave Zimbabwe than it is to get in. So I’ll keep the writing to a minimum and mostly use pictures for this trip into the park. We essentially did the same trip, except for this time the weather was much nicer and my daypack managed to not make it to camp but everyone was nice enough to let me borrow some extras. All I had on was shorts a tank top, my rain jacket on the truck and my camera.
Ok, so the elephants did freak me out a little. We got very close to them, close enough that they challenged us and shook their heads as the passed and I don’t wanna get stomped. Still was cool none the less.
Next we say goodbye to Botswana again and cross over into Zambia.