29th Jun 2009 - 4th Jul 2009
Brilliant Botswana (including Okavango)
Jumping on the new truck this morning and officially met everyone. A pretty full truck and a whole new ambiance. Today we had our introductions; I was joined by the Aussie Nap family made up of Mother Roz, 16 y/o son Josh, 18 year old daughter Samy and her boyfriend Kane, The Townsend Family from NZ, with Mother Rose, Father Keith, 14 y/o son Mika and 17 y/o son Jonah and then another Aussie family (for the life of me I cannot remember their names) with Mother and Father, 14 y/o daughter Monique, 12 y/o son Daniel and 10 y/o son Tim. And there was the 7 of us from the last truck (3 left the tour because of the families!) Michael and Tim (Aussie brothers), Katie and Louisa (from UK), Jenny and Amy (NZ) and myself.
We drove and crossed the boarder into Botswana, was a short drive into Kasane where we set up camp. Some people went for a game drive in Chobe National Park, but we were all going on a boat cruise game drive in the arvo so I opted out of it as we would see the same thing anyway! At 3:30pm we got onto the boat and cruised down the Chobe River, turns out one side of the river is Namibia and one side is Botswana! We saw loads of elephants frolicking in the water, buffalo, kudu, HUGE crocodiles, monkeys and some other wild animals. A nice afternoon was had watching yet another beautiful sunset over the river with enchanting colours painting the sky. Took about my 200th sunset photo on this trip!! Maybe I should make a book of them all!
Have I mentioned lately that I love Africa!
The following day we had a very very long drive day, really feeling the difference in trucks. Nick, our driver from the last one took really good care of his engines etc but this truck feels so old and slow. We stopped only to get supplies at a Mall and arrived at camp pretty late.
An early start for our 3 days excursion to the Okavango Delta.
The Okavango Delta (or Okavango Swamp), in Botswana, is the world's largest inland delta.
**A delta is a landform that is created at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river. Over long periods of time, this deposition builds the characteristic geographic pattern of a river delta. Today, the Okavango River has no outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties onto the sands of the Kalahari Desert
Drove 1 ½ hours in the freezing cold on an open truck with 2 bench seats down each side, so we were all out in the open and rugged up in every item of clothing we owned plus our sleeping bags, beanie’s, thermals etc!! It must have easily been about 0 degrees. We got to a small inlet at the Mokoro polers station. From there we each got into a mokoro (a very small low to the water dug out canoe). Some of us were lucky enough to get fibre glass canoes rather than the wooden ones carved from tree trunks. The reason I say lucky is that the wooden ones were quite old and leaked water and the people who did get there got pretty wet! As I am the only one on my own I got to go in one with the cook as there is defiantly only 2 people in these boats as well as the poler (person pushing us along with the poles…thus poler!).
The water levels in the delta are at their highest they have been in 60 years, so we had a long 3 hours of unsteadiness in the sun through the winding waterways, reeds, lily’s and insects until we reached an island. We set up our tents in this very remote place with not a sound, not another soul around. Such peace and tranquility……how’s the serenity.
We had the chance to relax for a while which was lovely. We then had an afternoon game walk at 4pm, and although we did not see anything, we followed lots of trails of footprints and poop! It was nice to be out walking in the long grass and taking in the vastness of this place. We had a great steak dinner and most of us went to our tents early as we were knackered. I was the lucky one who had the tent to myself, and when I set my tent up I made sure it was the furthest away and closest to the wild animals!
On the 2nd July we awoke not to the sounds of animals, but one of our local guides singing us a song;
Wake up wake up for tea and coffee, wake up wake up for coffee and tea.
Hot cauefee (coffee), Hot choc-o-late, Hot shoo-gar (sugar), Hot Mil-ik (milk) and so on!! It was such a cute melody in his African accent, I wish I could sing it for you…..it will get in your head and stay there for days!! I remember hearing throughout the night too, the sounds of hyena's and Lion's!
I had a quick cup of tea and some crusket things as a quick snack and set of by 6:30am for our big game walk through the Delta wilderness. We all split up into groups of 4 or 5 and my group followed some fresh tracks of lions and giraffe but they lead us to nothing. We came across fresh tracks from leopards and elephants too but still struggled to find anything. We did see some African Fish Eagles and a bunch of other birds.
After about 2 ½ hours of walking we came to a sudden stop and the guide told us to be very quiet and make no sudden movements. Up in front of us, only about 40 meters away were 3 colossal Elephants! Now these things were HUGE!! Defiantly the biggest ones I have ever seen anywhere anytime!! Luckily we were down wind from them so they could not smell us or else we would have been in trouble, big trouble! We got a little close, maybe within about 20 meters, pretty stupid really, but I guess the guys know what the limits are. They became a little agitated and we had to back away slowly and leave them alone. We trekked for another 2 hours and very unfortunately did not see any other animals but I was happy enough to see those elephants so up close. Living dangerously.
Getting back to camp we had a huge feed of scrambled eggs and toast. A few of us played cards down by the water and simply relaxed after our big trek. At 5pm we went out for a sunset Mokoro ride enjoying a glass of wine, or should I say cup of wine, a great way to end a perfect day. After another magic dinner we had a show from the guides of singing, dancing, games and jokes, and we had to return the favour and entertain them as well! I sang Waltz Sing Matilda as they all wanted to hear it and then a group of us had to sing the Aussie national anthem.
The following morning only a very small hand full of us got up at 6am to go for another game walk, only for about 1 ½ hours but the sky was stunning and watching the sun come up was something else. I felt very at peace here and didn’t really want to leave. At 8:30am we got back into the Mokoro for the long paddle back to the station and drive back to the camp site where we left behind the truck and our back packs. I had a fantastic shower (after not showering for 3 days) did some hand washing of my clothes then shot into town for a quick stint on the internet and shops. That night I stayed up for a little bit as our old truck was there, but all the people from it were out in the delta, but the driver Nick was there with the truck, so I sat up with him for a while as it was the last chance to say goodbye.
Happy 4th of July!!
A very long truck day today to a place called Papape. A detour from the itinerary, as we were supposed to stay at a place called Francistown, but all took a vote and decided to make todays journey longer and tomorrows a little shorter as both were going to be very long days. Had a great night at the camp site, they had a bar with a pool table, so a couple of us enjoyed a few games and partied on with the bar owners till the wee hours of the morning with some great music!