Botswana · 6 Days · 58 Moments · January 2016

Al Bates

Overlanding in Botswana

29 January 2016

Last but not least a beautiful Kudo. Which is, sadly, quite tasty. After we finished the game drive we were back on the truck and drove the half hour journey to the border. Now... To enjoy all the fun with Zimbabwean border control (hand written visas all round please..)
Some cheeky storks. They're quite big and comical. This one looks like an Albert.
Yay another of the Big 5! We saw a Buffalo in the Okavango but didn't manage to snap it. These dudes posed nice a close. Man they're huge.
These trees are full of vultures. I recon they were sitting around saying "what do you wanna do?" "I dunno.. What do you wanna do?"... (Jungle book reference peeps).
5am start for another game drive and back to meet the truck. More lions!
After our lions we had a slow hour of just these animals pictured. I had a pretty bad night sleep last night so wasn't feeling wonderful. I felt absolutely freezing and everyone said I was being a grumpy git. Soz team.

28 January 2016

We arrived at our campsite, in the middle of the Chobe national park. We were very lucky that our guides had put our tents up for us and Manda (Munja having a rest) had cooked an incredible meal! The sky tonight was brilliant and we enjoyed a beer around the campfire. Being in the middle of the national park means any wild animal could wander in. When I got up at 3am (everyone will be relieved to know I got the sheewee down by now) I had multiple pairs of eyed staring at me. I'm pretty sure it was just some Impala (antelope type thing)... But lets pretend it was a pride of lions to make me look hardcore.
Sunset elephants
More elephants. Sorry... It was difficult choosing the photos!
Baboon. Just chilling.
It seems we're getting pretty good at spotting lions. However this evenings sighting was quite different. This pride were getting quite close to the herd of elephants near by. Jack, our guide, said the pride couldn't hunt adult elephants but they have been known to pick off the babies. Gayle pointed out that one of the lions was creeping very near the elephants. And with that, suddenly the elephant herd went into full stampede! They trumpeted and stormed full pelt at the lions - chasing them off into the bush. The lions retreated, roaring as they went. The noise was sensational. I'm very proud to say I caught the whole extraordinary scene on my video camera. Once we have computer access I'll upload onto YouTube. We've never seen anything like it!
Stacks of Giraffes. Common as muck!
Cheeky Croc just chilling.
Family so cute!
More elephants!
Into the wilderness once again! This time into the 11,000km2 Chobe national park. Which doesn't have a fence around it. The park is very different from Etosha and is incredibly green. On our three hour game drive to our camp we were absolutely blown away by the number of elephants! We must have seen over 150 elephants, absolutely no exaggeration, just everywhere. So this is where they've been all this time. They were so close to the truck that we actually had the wrong lense on the camera at times to get them in. The following posts will mainly be elephants. But they're so amazing. Particularly the tiny baby ones, less than a month old. So unbelievably cute. One strong male wandered into the scene. Alex said "what's that between his legs?!" Much laughter occurred. Our guide replied "his second trunk!". Ten mins later Alex says "you know. That was the biggest dick I have ever seen!". Very amusing. Not sure he has got over it yet and has asked if anyone got a photo...
This afternoon we are off into Chobe national park for our last game drive and another evenings bush camp. I remembered, or more was reminded by my dear friend Ali, that tonight is the RAD awards in the UK. This is the most prestigious advertising awards in my industry and my amazing team at EY and MSL are up for six awards. Having worked hard on some of these projects (hard work that let me be here) I wished my former team and colleagues lots of luck for tonight. I am a little sad not to be joining the party but have to be honest and say I'd rather be here. Plenty of time for more awards ceremonies 😊. I'm sure they'll have way too much fun tonight and sport a similar hangover to the one I had on my last day. Actually... I do not wish that on anyone! Not my finest moment...
These cheeky little troupe of Mongoose (Mongeese?!) were chilling in our campsite! Sooo cute. Reminded us of our ratties 😊

27 January 2016

We made it to Kasange in the afternoon and were greeted by this dung beetle tirelessly rolling this prize piece of poo around the car park. A chilled afternoon followed by the free light show in the sky - a spectacular electric storm that lasted well over an hour. Lightening is impossible to photograph it seems but I got some of the sheet lightening - The sky lit up like this for a split second at a time before returning to complete darkness. Incredible show!
Excitement hit us when suddenly elephants started appearing on the side of the road! We spent so long looking for them in Etosha when they seem to be everywhere here. We were first alerted when Hans (who is essentially Goldmember from Austin Powers) shouted "Oliphaaaaaant". Ah, gotta love the Dutch.
Today is long drive day. Over 600km to drive to Kasange. The truck was fixed whilst we were in the bush. Twenty minutes in... The vibrations started again. But it appears we're just going to keep on going! Our petrol station stop saw Jon discover you could purchase custard in a drink carton and I found the worlds biggest can of coke. Yep. It's a long drive.

26 January 2016

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing at camp. We even saw a hippo wander in but we were camera-less so take our word for. Scroll back a few days to see what a hippo looks like 😉. I treated myself to a pre dinner snifter as my mother would say. A cheeky Amarula. Similar to baileys. Yum.
Back to civilisation and an afternoon at the pool, catching up with the world and showering. We then took the Americans for a cheeky nandos in Maun. Actually, Justin probably took us as he's been craving a cheeky one for days. Here we are looking super cheeky.
We broke up camp bright and early and carried our things down the Delta to load onto the Mokoros. An hour or so poling back to the pick up point. We said good bye to our amazing hosts. It was quite emotional. We had a photo with our Poler Dix. Can you tell we haven't showered for two days in 40degree heat?!
This morning the beautiful Delta was very full of hippos...!

25 January 2016

Wooo what a night!
The excitement of the camp fire saw many bottles of wine being consumed. Some more than others. Sadly as Jon hadn't been well we decided to take it easy. So, we knew we would have to take a bottle back with us. An intoxicated member of the party (who will remain unnamed 😉) did come over to my tent to bargain for it. I explained it had gone, there was much disbelief. However, hilariously Munja had overheard the conversation so decided to join in with my deceit by saying "ahh I think I saw a Jackal take it!" (Again, try to read in a Zimbabwean accent) That put me into hysterics.
Tonight we were treated to some African entertainment. Our Polers performed Botswanian songs around a campfire. They're all incredible singers and I love how they all get so into the performance. Nobody holds back and you can tell they absolutely love their country and culture. We joined in with some songs and crazy dancing. The Polers are truly wonderful people. People who are happy and cheerful and in many ways much richer than us. Enjoying the world they live in and being a part of this beautiful peaceful country. It makes you realise what real living is and what matters most. Everywhere we go we have people of all ages waving and smiling. Even the teenagers - that struck me the most. These kids worries are about getting an education and helping feed their families. It's a far cry from our teens who worry about having a great snapchat story, worry about their looks and wanting the latest iPhone or hover board! We really don't know how to live like these people do.
The dash back to camp in the down pour. Complete with low light blurry pics to show atmosphere. Cheeky pile in one tent and pass a bottle of wine around. Ahh this is the life...
The epic storm...
This evening we were taken for a sunset cruise in the Mokoro. JB felt much better which was a great relief. A stunning sky rumbled but a thunder storm was quite welcome after today's heat! The last few minutes of our cruise our Polers poled along like mad things to get us back before the rain. We charged back into camp just in time before a torrential downpour.
The lady Polers make these beautiful baskets and bracelets out of the reeds in the Delta. They had packed some they made earlier to sell. I bought a bracelet to continue my bracelet buying tradition.
On another note, our camp is full of these tiny Caterpillars. Everywhere you go they fall on you. Completely harmless of course but it seems to upset our little Brazilian lady. She has spent many a time swatting them off her tent. She's already put in several complaints to Munja about them and asked if he could do something about it. She's a fruit loop for sure.
After brunch it was time for a siesta. However the heat was so intense it was impossible to be comfortable enough to sleep anywhere. We also can't cool off in the Delta due to the Hippo and Croc danger. Munja has been looking out for Jon every couple of hours ( "Mr Jon, how are you feeling?") and had been asking him about various symptoms. Jb asked what he was checking for and Munja said "Malaria". That would put a downer on the trip somewhat...
We walked back to camp for another hour or so. The sun by this point was unbearably hot. It must have been well into the 30s already and we walked without shade. One of the toughest walks I've done. We arrived back at camp around 10.30am to see off brunch. I have never eaten so much food in my life! Jon was still feeling a bit unwell and I doubt the walk helped unfortunately! But what a walk it was!
Giraffe peered at us and we stopped in the sweltering morning sun for a rest.
Zebras were getting leary with each other and were having a big fight! Snapped this action shot. What's a nibble on the butt between friends?
Walking on we came across an open savanna with many many Wildebeest, Zebra and Giraffe. Seeing this on foot is truly incredible, we felt very close to the animals. The dominant male wildebeest grunted at us until he bravely ran away with his herd! More babies too, both Zebras and Wildebeest!
The whole Wildebeest herd ran off and it was epic to seem them charge. Nobody seemed worried that they'd run over us so it was all good. It's like the scene on the Lion King...!
Walking through the wilderness bright and early we saw lots of bird life and more Zebras in the distance. As we came past a big collection of trees, Extra shouted something to the other Poler and pointed. She moved me forwards and said "elephant!". We saw one very far away yesterday and Extra told us you shouldn't get closer than 250 metres from it as they're very dangerous. This one was closer to 100 metres away. We started to take photos but he clocked us and didn't seem to like us. He flapped his ears and Extra told us to move away quickly. He said to us "he's a dominant male bull, they've been known to kill people in these parts". So we were full of confidence! Extra then ran off down the path to warn the other group who were walking right towards him! After some time elephant chilled out and posed for a few snaps.
Over night Jon wasn't very well at all. He had a massive temperature following our evening walk. I asked munja for some water I could dowse Jon with. Munja was very caring and quite concerned. He gave me a piece of ice from the cooler box to cool him down. Jon had a long night drinking lots of water and lots of getting up for the loo. Everytime anyone gets up to the toilet, they have to take a companion. We are surrounded by many dangerous animals of course. So when we woke up at 5am we were pretty tired for our morning safari walk. The sun was rising and the scenery looked stunning. We started off amazingly, this cheeky little Zebra peaked over the grass at us. Bird life was in abundance. I was only a little worried Jon might pass out...!

24 January 2016

This evening we were split into two groups and taken on a game walk. Essentially, we are walking in the wild with no protection so could easily be taken by a lion. And considering our luck at finding lions we were a little concerned, our guide Extra didn't seem concerned mind. Tonight we came across Warthogs, Buffalo, Hippos and very far away Elephants and Giraffes. As you can appreciate, snapping these guys is much harder on foot than in the truck. It's tricky to get close and often you don't want to! It was incredible walking in the wild, albeit extremely hot.
When we first booked this trip last summer, it was before I had handed my notice in at work so it was somewhat secret. However, I googled the okavango delta and found a beautiful photo of the sunset there. I put it as my Facebook cover photo as subtle inspiration to keep me working hard to the end of the year. This evening, I took my own versions of that googled photo. I have to say, I had a wave of emotion hit me as I looked at that sunset - in real life. And I've never been prouder of what we're doing and have already achieved. Truly wonderful.
After another amazing Munja lunch, a serious siesta was the order of the afternoon.
So. We've had a new addition to the group. A tiny Brazilian woman named Margarita or Margo (nobody's quite sure). She joined us this morning and demanded to know if anyone spoke German as that's her second language. Her English isn't so good. She tiptoed onto the Mokoro clutching her handbag and wearing bright gold shoes. On arrival she sat and let the polers put her tent up and was disappointed there was no electricity. Just to clarify, it took us two hours to get here by first dirt road then by boat... She was a bit shocked by the hole in the ground for the toilet. Nobody is quite sure how she ended up being booked onto this trip... Oh and she also seems to stock pile sandwiches in her handbag... Very odd!
Helping put lunch together using a Mokoro as a table.
Justin learnt today that sun cream in the eye is not good banter. He has spent most of the day sporting pink eye. Our friend Amber would sympathise...
The Mokoro trip took over an hour. Our poler, a lady named Dix, weaved us through the reeds as we relaxed on our roll mats. We were poled past some hippo (at a distance thankfully) and saw so much incredible bird and plant life. It was very relaxing but don't let the clouds deceive... It was sweltering. We arrived at our camp (the bush) in the bright late morning sunshine. Rather warm tent time! Still, rather this than torrential rain.
We arrived at the Mokoro station and were greeted by our team of polers. A mixture of male and female locals who will take us deep into the delta to our camp. All of our food, tents and kit were loaded onto these narrow boats. We got into pairs and the polers chose a pair.
We were picked up to be taken into the Delta by open safari buggy. We bombed it down the tarmac at 65ks getting wind swept until we joined the dirt track to take us to the Mokoro station (boats). We past lots of insanely remote villages and traditional Botswanians.
Another 5am wake up. The last shower for two days so I needed extra time. Amazingly we woke up to beautiful blue skys. Very worth keeping our us$120 then. AND we had about 8 cheeky monkeys attempting a seige on our breakfast table. However the novelty of these little buggers wore off quite quickly as they made a big mess. Wet tents were down and we were ready to be picked up to be taken to the Okavango Delta bush camp!

23 January 2016

In this photo we have two moist Americans enjoying free WiFi in the lodge bar. Luckily our tour company thought it was sensible to have dinner in the restaurant rather than cooking in the dark in the torrential rain. So that was good but the food wasn't a patch on Munjas! By the time we left, the rain had gotten down to a drizzle. The tents were a little walk away from the restaurant with no lights. Just our head torches to find the way, this did much for my snake paranoia. Off to the bathroom block which naturally didn't have any working lights either. I was followed there and back by an overly friendly cat who stared at me in the torch light as I cleaned my teeth. All in all creepy beyond all reason. We slept reasonably well to sound of hippos grunting... I think.
We stopped another two times before deciding to travel at half the speed limit and slowly arrived at Maun. Several hours after our scheduled arrival. On arrival the torrential rain picked up once again. Driving into camp seemed as though we were driving up a river and again we were concerned the truck would give in. Mutterings of wanting upgrades to chalets came from the Dutchies. They all lept out of the truck at reception to pay a monumental sum of US$65 each(!) to sleep in a lodge rather than the tent. It appeared there must have been some queue as we were waiting forever. In true Jon style, he lept off to insist the truck drive onto the campsite before it got dark. Staunch camper half of group rejoiced at the grumpy englishman 😉 Setting up camp was as miserable as you can imagine and banter levels were at an all time low. Until Justin said "it could be worse... We could have jihadists in the camp ". I mean, he has a point.
And... With an hour to go. We've stopped again. Bolts falling off the truck. So plan b was the find a bolt elsewhere on the truck to get us to Maun. Henrick thought of using the bolt from the stairs as we won't need it going along. Great idea! Jon then replaced the stairs bolt with an African bolt. There was rumours that this guy with these donkeys had a spare bolt but nothing materialised. Onwards we go with an ill-fitting bolt hoping for the best.
To pass the time Jon's reading the Namibian newspaper. I always like to look at the recruitment section to see how it differs from the UK. (Because I'm clearly missing my line of work so much!). These ads are quite incredible and go against about every employment law going in the UK! Sex, marital status and age discrimination seems to be the absolute norm. I've also never seen someone advertising that they're looking for work in a paper before. Really is like rolling the clock back.
We're rumbling through the Botswana countryside in the pouring rain. Feels like home! The truck appears to be leaking water on my lap which isn't ideal. Botswana is the land of the donkeys, we've seen hundreds already.
So it seemed like we had some more time to kill. We had a little look in the shops. (As an aside, munja looks epic in his African shirt today, such a ledge). The supermarket seemed to mainly sell rice and maise. But then... Alas what's this? A fridge full of V....! (Incase you don't understand, this is a nz energy drink that I'm obsessed with and it's extremely random it was stocked in this shop). Things were looking up. It got even better when I went to the shop next door and found this epic old lady visor. I can now have hair up and hat on. Genius. We also bagged some plastic wine glasses which means we no longer need to drink wine from a tin mug. Jon tried on a plastic Botswana flag hat. Nan will approve of the silly hat. It's the small things in life, and I mean, I'm pretty hyper after that V. Truck seems to be ok now (touch wood) so we're continuing the journey...
Into Botswana we go, they had extremely friendly immigration officers which is always a good sign. This morning the truck was vibrating a fair bit. We were all reassured it was just the bearing wearing into place. Reassured that was until we took an unscheduled stop to a random in-the-middle-of-nowhere supermarket car park and Matt decided to get under the truck. Yep. Still not right. Banging and spannering commenced.