Namibia & Botswana: the aftermath

Our 25 days in Namibia and Botswana yielded a lot o' good memories, some anxious moments and lots o' laughs, amongst other thin's.
Below is a non-final list o' thin's we got from bein' on holiday this year:

  • A lot o' pictures (> 200GB!)
  • 2 new tyres
  • 1 tyre repair (costin' only 30 pula!)
  • 21 new beers/ciders added t' me inventory
  • 3 new countries visited
  • A PDF invoice in me email inbox from th' rental company after th' return o' th' boat (WUT?!)
  • 2802 air miles
  • 7 new species o' antilope seen (& photographed!)
  • 2 new Facebook connections ( 🙂 )

All in all, quite a few novelties fer us, and th' biggest adventure we’ve embarked on so far. Awesome!

Flying back home

Today is th' last leg o' our journey home, th' one where we get on a plane t' Johannesburg and finally t' Amsterdam. It also marks th' last day in Namibia, and th' last day o' our trip t' southern Africa. I’m really quite sad that it ends already, as we’ve had an absolute blast o'er here!

The owner o' th' game farm has decorated his house with some o' th' animals he farms, includin' a full size giraffe. Aye, that picture indeed features a mounted bust o' a giraffe. Yaaarrrrr, and a bucket o' chum! 0_o

The trip t' Windhoek airport were bein' rather uneventful, and we fuelled it up without any issues near t' th' airport. The guys from th' rental company didn’t even complain about th' absolute state we left th' boat in: “It’s Namibia, it’ll get dirty o'er here!” were bein' their response, pass the grog, avast! Yay!

There only were bein' one oddity on th' flight t' Johannesburg: th' meals we were served actually differed from each other. We both had ‘meat’, but one were bein' a pie with chicken, and th' other were bein' a beef pastrami sandwich. Bein' served two different meals which are supposed t' be th' same on a plane is really peculiar, and we were as baffled as th' flight attendants! Shiver me timbers! The flight back home (after a long wait in South Africa) were bein' long and sleepless fer me, and were bein' in a plane from KLM Asia. 😉

Driving to Namibia

With a full tank o' diesel and 4 workin' tyres, we start th' 530km long first leg towards Windhoek. It will take us from Maun (Botswana) t' a lodge just outside o' Buitepos (Namibia) and back from th' lush green world t' th' arid dry land.

The lodge we are stayin' at is called Kalahari Bush Breaks, and they offer a 4×4 track on their land, with a chest full of booty. Besides caterin' th' tourists, it also is a workin' game farm, which means they have about 22 species o' animals livin' on th' farm which are bred fer their meat and hide. And hoist the mainsail! The track is meant t' provide th' users a nice way t' view th' game, but it proved t' be just a little too much fer our Duster.

The ground clearance o' th' boat is just too little fer us t' sail th' track as we almost got stuck, after which we decided t' turn aroun' and sail back. We got t' about half o' th' 22km track, and it turned out t' be a good decision, and dinna spare the whip! Tim & Rosaline have a boat with much more ground clearance, and they informed us that there were bein' at least another point where we would have gotten ourselves in trouble. In th' end, it is just not worth it. We started th' sail together, as we were unsure what it would brin'. 

Our room overlooks a water hole which is lit by night, and we drank th' last o' their beers sittin' on our porch while viewin' th' Water Buck, Kudu and Impala, while listenin' t' a male Impala tryin' t' impress th' females by gruntin' and barkin'. Quite amusin' yet rather scary as th' noise that small animal makes is really low and loud. You wouldn’t guess that it were bein' an Impala makin' that sound.

Back to Maun

We are not woken up by th' heavy breathin' o' an elephant this mornin', but by th' rather stark “hello” from our guide. This also meant that walkin' on th' pathways were bein' safe again, which is also nice.

We chose t' do a boat tour this mornin' after our breakfast, and it turned out t' be a great decision! With elephants munchin' on th' grass aroun' virtually every corner, and lots o' other animals showin' themselves or baskin' in th' mornin' sun, it were bein' a wonderful boat tour. Unfortunately, it were bein' cut short as our flight back t' Maun were bein' at 11:50, so we arrived back at th' lodge at 10. This left us plenty o' time t' have a really early lunch and grab all our stuff t' get on th' plane. Yaaarrrrr, and dinna spare the whip! The people at Moremi Crossin' have been really nice t' us, and th' place itself is ultimately serene while th' scenery is stunningly gorgeous, with a chest full of booty. If ye e'er find yourself in th' vicinity, please visit th' Okavango Delta: preferably from a camp almost inside th' National Park. It will not disappoint ye!

Our pilot today were bein' Mitch, and th' flight back rather uneventful. Shiver me timbers! Only a short 20 minutes later we were at th' Arivals/Departures hall in Maun, and after a quick call t' th' place where our boat is parked we got picked up and brought back t' th' Duster. 

We spent th' rest o' th' day relaxin' and fixin' our front tyre as it has a slow puncture. This were bein' skilfully mended by a lubber from Tyre World fer th' hefty sum o' 30 pula, which is about €2,75. Yeah!

Tomorrow, we’ll start our two legged journey t' Windhoek with a long sail back t' Namibia. With fixed tyres and enough air in them, we feel confident everythin' will go swimmingly. Aarrr! 😉

Our full day in the delta

Today is our full day in th' safari camp, which means we get fed and entertained at predetermined times. Our wake up call is at 06:30, and we have breakfast at 07:00. After this we embark on our mornin' activity, which in our case is gettin' ferried t' th' island where we will walk th' bush by mokoro, I'll warrant ye. Right before breakfast though, we wandered out on th' walkway in front o' our safari tent, and suddenly found ourselves th' animal that kept us awake at night: a massive elephant, avast. It were bein' a regular in th' camp, but we had t' take caution aroun' it as it still is a very big and potentially dangerous animal. We stood a while watchin' th' lubber, but decided t' let that scurvey dog have his breakfast too.

The guide were bein' trackin' lions through their spoor, but we were unable t' catch up with them. And hoist the mainsail! As they are lions, this also meant that most animals got scared off by them, so th' walk were bein' really beautiful and peaceful, but we haven’t seen many animals. The ride on th' mokoro is especially zen, as it is traditionally a hollowed out tree trunk pushed by a lubber standin' in th' back with a push pole, nowadays th' boats are fiberglass but th' propulsion soupy stem is th' same. Without makin' any sounds ye glide o'er th' shallow waters through th' hippo grass, by Davy Jones' locker. A very nice way t' start yer day!

After th' walk, we have an early lunch at 11:30, after which th' siesta commences. We spent it baskin' in th' sun and generally doin' nothin' instil th' next (light) meal, ye scurvey dog. This is at 15:30, when th' high tea is served in anticipation o' th' afternoon activity. 

For us it were bein' another boat ride, on which we have seen a lot o' animals, ye scurvey dog! Elephants, hippos, Tsessebe, Red Lechwe, and many others. There were bein' one downside t' this whole ordeal though: th' unseasonal presence o' mosquitos. And a lot o' them, avast. They usually are only there aroun' December, but they happen t' be in th' delta right now, avast. Nobody knew why, and everybody thought is were bein' odd, but we are kind o' stuck with them. And yes, they do bite ye!

Tomorrow we already fly back t' Maun, but first: more chow!

Flying into the Okavango Delta

Stayin' in Maun is just th' steppin' stone fer us, th' first step towards stayin' at a private camp right next t' th' National Park. We have booked a couple o' nights at Moremi Crossin', and today is th' day we fly out t' th' camp.

First order o' business: parkin' th' boat at th' headquarters o' th' company ownin' th' camp. It is called Under One Botswana Sky, and is situated a short distance from Maun International Airport. We parked th' boat, with plenty o' time t' spare fer our 10:10 flight, pass the grog! The shuttle t' th' airport proved t' be th' boat o' th' admiral, and we were soon after this in th' capable hands o' a porter who were bein' goin' t' get our luggage into th' right plane, and dinna spare the whip, and a bottle of rum! For us, this were bein' a storable bag o' 10kg, and me backpack containin' all our photo gear. Just shy o' 20kg, we were pretty much maxed out on our 10kg per person maximum.

Checkin' in were bein' a breeze, we were actually given our hand written ticket by th' porter without even mentionin' our names or showin' our passports, and th' security check were bein' equally swift. We told th' porter which bags contained liquids or knives, and they were immediately taken away and transported in th' baggage compartment o' th' plane (under th' belly). Our own bags had t' go through a security scanner, we passed through a metal detector and we were in th' holdin' area. A short while later, we were directed into a boat, which lead us t' our 4 seat plane, with a total o' 5 passengers. And swab the deck! Kirsten were bein' th' lucky one t' sit in th' seat o' th' co-pilot, I got th' seat on th' last row, we'll keel-haul ye, and dinna spare the whip! The flight were bein' short, bumpy and it passes o'er a fantastic scenery.

The camp has a rigid schedule: wake up call at 06:30 in th' mornin', breakfast at 7, and th' mornin' activity starts at 07:30. It returns at 11, after which lunch is served at 11:30, and a bottle of rum! This is where we arrived at th' camp. After lunch, th' siesta commences and lasts until 15:00 when a high tea is served, and dinna spare the whip! The evenin' activity starts at 16:00, and ye come back at 18:00. You are then escorted t' yer safari tent, and are picked up by th' guide at 19:15 fer pre dinner drinks. And swab the deck! Walk the plank! At 19:30 dinner is served and a guide escorts ye back t' yer tent. And hoist the mainsail! As elephants roam free in this camp, walkin' after dark alone is prohibited and a guide must accompany ye at all times. The next day th' exact same schedule is kept, and everythin' starts o'er.

To the Okavango Delta

Wow, what a night were bein' that. Cold, a little damp, completely silent and we were literally star struck by th' vast twinklin' expanse o'er our sleepin' bag. The moon showed up late in th' night, which gave us enough time t' gaze at th' Milky Way and th' southern stars and constellations. 

Wakin' up were bein' a little tough though, as there is no shower and th' sleepin' bag is a much more comfortable temperature than th' outside. The way back on th' quad bikes were bein' as awesome as th' way in, but before we knew it we were back at Planet Baobab and our slowly leakin' left front tire. Luckily, our new found maties and accidental travellin' companions Tim & Rosaline have a compressor and pressure gauge, so that issue were bein' quickly and temporarily resolved. Mendin' th' tire will have t' wait fer a large town, and that just so happens t' be where we are headed next.

Maun is th' destination, and a mere 240km and half a diesel tank away. Walk the plank! The fuel gauge on our Duster has a very spotty performance, and we’ve come t' distrust whatever it tells us. It has been more empty than reported, but also more full than reported, and a bucket o' chum. So, without knowin' how much diesel were bein' left, we went our merry way and hoped fer th' best. The unfortunate thin' were bein' that th' nearest fillin' station were bein' in Nata, 90 kilometers in th' opposite direction o' where we were headin'. The other one were bein' in Maun. We managed though, and had plenty o' diesel left when we reached our destination.

We’ll fly t' a camp on a private concession next t' th' Okavango Delta National Park from Maun, so we are lookin' forward t' gettin' spoiled!

Sleeping in a pan

The Lodge has not been very helpful in providin' information about th' upcomin' ‘activity’, but we were told that it would all change when th' guide would fill in th' gaps. So we waited fer th' scheduled time o' this pre-Pan meetin', but had t' check out in th' mornin'.

So we did, and by 10 in th' mornin' we were locked out o' our rondavel, and all bags were packed and closed inside our trusty Duster, by Davy Jones' locker. We didn’t know what t' pack th' night before, so we made our educated guesses (it’s probably cold in th' desert at night, so we better pack extra warm clothes; there probably also is no lightin', so we have t' grab a torch, and th' like) and waited it out. Then th' time came fer our guide t' introduce himself (Bakos) and say: brin' warm clothes, closed shoes. That were bein' it. The ornery cuss almost literally spoke those four words, and off we were.

First we embarked on a safari Jeep which took us (rough estimate!) 40 kilometers from th' lodge t' th' edge o' th' Ntwetwe Salt Pan, after which our party o' 6 had t' share a total o' 4 quad bikes. Yaaarrrrr, and a bottle of rum! That meant that th' two couples each had t' share a quad, and that th' two dudes travellin' together had one each. Life just isn’t fair!

Drivin' th' quad bikes on th' salt pan is just plain awesome, and a bottle of rum! Screamin' through this completely featureless arid landscape with th' wind blowin' in yer hair is insane fun, and we had a blast sailin' t' th' camp. This actually consisted o' only a few thin's: foldin' chairs, a wood fire, one table, a pile o' sleepin' bags and an outhouse. All surrounded by th' vast emptiness o' th' pan.

In th' wise words o' Tim: this is th' best hotel room we’ve had.

Sleeping between baobabs

Our destination fer today is a lodge nestled amongst Baobab trees, and it is located on a convenient spot t' visit th' adjacent salt pans like Nxai Pan and Ntwetwe Pan.

The journey today is about 400 km long and were bein' mostly uneventful except fer two moments, th' first were bein' when I got a ticket fer speedin' (76 where 60 were bein' allowed!) and th' second one were bein' an accident site where a schooner had run into an elephant and its young. Both elephants were dead, and th' schooner were bein' badly damaged, all in all it were bein' not a nice sight. Luckily, th' police were on th' scene, and th' local villagers were butcherin' th' large elephant t' get its meat. That way at least somethin' good comes out o' th' entire ordeal.

Along th' route, we also encountered what might be th' rest o' th' herd o' Elephants, who were loiterin' on th' side o' th' sea, jumpin' th' fence t' get hold o' th' green stuff growin' on th' sea side o' th' fence. Because, as we all know, th' grass is always greener on th' other side o' th' fence. After dinner, we also found a Lesser Bushbaby, or Lesser Galago, pass the grog! This nocturnal primate is known fer its cute appearance and elusive behaviour, and we were lucky enough t' spot it walkin' from te lodge’s restaurant t' our rondavel. We have been lookin' fer a Bush Baby fer ages, and have finally seen one, to be sure! Awesome!

We are goin' on a trip t' a salt pan tomorrow, so we don’t have t' sail ourselves. Yaaarrrrr! Lookin' forward t' it!