Our African journey continues. Previously …. Chobe National Park, Botswana
Again we packed up the bare minimum to head into the bush. The 4wd trucks picked us up at our campsite in Maun and we drove down the highway for about 20 minutes. Then it was some serious off roading happening, complete with a more intense than usual African massage. The track was sand and mud and it appeared that when puddles were too deep they just created another road around them.
We arrived at the “station” where we transferred our stuff to waiting mokoros. Not that long ago they were made of hollowed out trees, but to preserve their forestry, they’re now made of fibreglass. The crew propped up our sleeping pads in such away that we had lazy boy recliners in them. They propelled the mokoros with a long pole they used to push it along through the canals in the delta. I have no idea how they knew where they were going, but about 1.5 hours later, we landed on an island. We had to clear a campsite which was interesting.
Cross was the lead poler (no paddles, just poles as it’s shallow) and his crew were Sandy, Dicks (she poled Sue and I in) Candy, Lucas and Extra. They gave us the safety talk and explained the “bushy bushy” protocol.. We could mark our territory where ever we wanted for the most part but #2 was to be done in a hole. The toilet tissue was on a branch beside a shovel. If the shovel was there, the toilet was free. If not, you had to wait. When finished your business, you just shovelled some dirt on top. It was very efficient. Some were disgusted but most of us felt it was almost a spiritual experience. Squatting over a hole, listening to animal sounds with a view of the Okavango Delta? What could be better? It’s healthy and very god for developing your gluteus maximus, among other things 😉
It was SO hot! Just sitting made me sweat so when they mentioned swimming, I was IN. Just Cross and Extra took 4 of us. They poled us through canals to a place where we beached the mokoros, walked a bit and happened on a place with a sandy bottom that was just perfect for an afternoon swim with no sign of crocs or hippos. I WAS warned not to swim too far though and I obeyed as I did NOT want to run into a hippo.
Back at the camp we just settled in to complain about the heat when the thunderstorm hit. That’s a good time to hole up in a tent with a book.
It stopped raining in time to go for a walk. Cross took us all over the place and didn’t seem to follow a path. He could spot a giraffe or zebra miles away. I had been told to wear closed toed shoes. I regretted it and wished I’d had my sandals as they would have fared better in the soggy grass.
We fell asleep that night to the sounds of crickets, frogs, hippos grunting and even the odd lion grumble in the distance.
After a quick bite of a rusk and a banana for breakfast, I put on my soaking wet socks and shoes and Cross led us off on a walk. After an hour it was only 7 am and already hot but it was wonderful to be walking in silence in such a wild, beautiful landscape. There was no path to follow.. The 5 of us just filed behind Cross whose amazing eyesight picked out giraffes, zebras and impalas from incredible distance. We could get remarkably close to them. When we happened on a herd of cape buffalo, we waited for them to move away before moving ourselves. They’re very aggressive and you never know what will set them off. The most intimidating sight was a huge bull elephant just munching away. From a distance it just looked like a big rock. Since there are no boulders in the delta, it was a strange sight. We came within 100 metres of him when Cross stopped. We just stood there and watched the massive creature. He watched us. Finally he shook his head from side to side. Apparently that means “step NO closer or I will squish you like a bug” We respected that and slowly walked away.
By the time we reached camp it was after 10 am and we’d been walking for over 4 hours. I was hot, tired and slightly dehydrated. Manda had prepared us a delicious brunch so we sat down to eat. I had 3 cups of coffee but the headache was still there so finally took tylenol. This Canuck must learn to drink more water.
After a siesta we convinced some of the polers to take us swimming again. Since we didn’t get eaten by a croc the day before, most of the others joined us. Again, it was delightful. I tried poling but it’s a lot harder than it looks. Jimmy tried after me and was a natural.
That evening we were treated to a mokoro cruise and after dinner, the polers treated us to some fun music and dancing by the campfire.
Packing everything up included filling in the bushy bushy hole and burying the campfire ashes. They leave nothing behind. There’s no garbage in the delta and the 5 litre water jugs we brought weren’t trashed. The locals use them to get water from the river, which they drink without purifying. Our digestive systems are far too delicate.
The same process required to get there was done in reverse and we were back in Maun just before 11 am. After setting up the tent again, I helped Munya prepare lunch. Later I thoroughly enjoyed a cold shower, washed some clothes and relaxed for an hour before departing again for the Maun airport.
There Sue, Edith, Emily and I boarded a 6 seater cesna for a flight over the delta. The scenery was nice and we saw a few animals but not as great as I expected. Since it was intended to spot game, I thought our pilot, Mark, would point them out but all he did was dip the wings now and then we he saw something. We got 40 minutes of a 45 minute flight. Maybe I’m picky but I don’t think I got $120 (US!) worth for that one. Sue felt the same but we didn’t say anything as the others seemed to think it was incredible.
Back at camp I picked up my computer and headed for the bar for some wifi. It was so nice to find my family online and I could skype with the grandkids. I couldn’t hear them but they could hear me so I did all the talking and they could type in reply. How weird is that?!
It’s funny what things excite you in different circumstances. Today’s thrill was grass. Yep. Rather than pitch our tents on dirt, we actually had lawn, a view of the Kavango River from our tent as well as a sign that said “DANGER CROCS”. Heaven! We could walk in and out of our tent without tracking in dirt.
No wifi meant I was off the hook for checking emails, etc so I joined some of the others for a nice, COLD beer at the bar. I rarely drink but when it’s this hot and you’re dripping with sweat just from setting up camp, there’s nothing more refreshing.
A sunset cruise on a pontoon boat up the Kavango river was delightful. The Popa waterfalls were picturesque and watching the hippos’ antics was great fun.
After another wonderful supper thanks to Munya of roast beef, potatoes and salad I enjoyed my next real treat. A HOT shower with good water pressure!! Life is good. 😀
Divundu to Namutoni (North end of Etosha National Park
I woke up at one point during the night thinking I’d have to get up and close the tent flaps as I heard far off thunder and saw lightning flashes. Thankfully it never materialized as it was so nice to have the fresh air all night.
We were on the road by 6:30 am. We passed many villages, schools, churches and small farms long the way. At the red gate, the truck was disinfected and a man came on board to check for meat. The views changed to large farms with fences and game rather than small plots of plowed land. We passed several villages, school children playing at recess and people working in the fields. I managed to snap some photos from the truck.