Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beef is cheap in Botswana

The last time I managed to connect was in Maun, Botswana, with news from Etosha and lots of wildlife stories. My first night in Botswana, after the overland truck almost crashed into one of the many cows roaming the streets freely even after dark, I spent sleeping in a traditional bushman hut made from reed. Turns out these insulate a lot better than our tents, and I wasn't freezing for the first time in ages! The same campsite that had these huts also showed a traditional bushman dance in the evening, but that whole experience seemed a little bit contrived... lots of Germans sitting around a group of very small indigenous people doing a "trance dance" for their audience.

After the bushmen however we moved on to explore the majestic Okavango delta. Without the big overland bus, just with our tents and transported by members of the local tribe who pushed us and our luggage in gondola-like little boats through labyrintine canals to a remote campsite. A hole in the ground as the toilet, and elephant poo thrown on the fire as mosquito repellent (surprisingly, that smells more like incense than like excrement). The real thing.
I went for a swim in the Okavango water, and on the second day I was commisioned to cook dinner for the whole group - and pulled off a pot of chili and, more amazingly, a lovely loaf of bread cooked over the campfire! It didn't look like it was going to work out at first, because I had never done it before and the bread wasn't cooking properly and I was getting really nervous we weren't going to eat... but then it miraculously worked out :)

I also saw some hippos in their natural habitat - they are scary creatures, and make sounds like giant pigs. And when they get mad, or try to impress each other, they do backflips in the water; quite something to watch! At night little frogs sounded like an orchestra of tiny brass bells all around us.

After two nights, and at least two of the girls in our group freaking out utterly and completely about the presence of spiders and insects in their lives (one of them couldn't sleep at night because of it), we headed back. Unshowered, tired, smelling like elephant poo smoke. On the truck ride back from the boat station we were greeted with cans of the local light beer, St. Louis, at around 10am in the morning. It absolutely hit the spot - apparently people here consume those types of 3.5% beers like soft drinks all the time.

From here, on to the last stop in Botswana, a place called Planet Baobab. It has, well, Baobab trees - I wasn't too imressed. But they have a very nice bar, and we met up with another tour going the same direction. Their translator Ines, Norman, myself and a few other Nomad people spent the evening practicing Malaria prophylaxis by Gin and tonic between enormous tree trunks, on chairs made from cow furs. And took over, oh luxury, one of the little chalets with proper beds in them instead of our usual tents, for a refreshed start on to the Chobe river the next day.

Chobe was great - the last stop before the Zimbabwean boarder, a big trans-frontier park between Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. I decided I really needed to do all my laundry here. By hand. Norman says I'm now ready to become an African wife, and he'll get lots of cows for me... I just know I'm never doing that again. Aside from this life-changing experience, we also went on a sunset cruise of the Chobe. Proper African Safari - close close close views from comfortable seats of hippos, elephants, crocodiles and the most spectacular sunset. Lots of great pictures, and a little bit of solace.

1 comment:

  1. Do you have any pics of the hippo backflips?