A Travellerspoint blog

Southern Circle: Day 15

sunny 30 °C

13 July 2017

Before breakfast we had to load up the truck with our bigger bags that are staying on the truck for the next couple of days. Breakfast was at 7.15am and we were on the way to the airport at 8.00am.

We were allocated a ticket for one of three flights to the Okavango Delta. The delta is a flood plain for the Okavango River and it has lots of wild life. The water flows from Angola and is at its highest in the dry season (which is now). It was amazing to fly in over the delta and see the extent of the water system. The flight was only 20 minutes long and we landed on a little dusty strip right next to the Oddballs loddge.

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We were greeted by the staff at the lodge but before we entered Jude and I were single out and told we were going somewhere else. We met our mokoro poler, Moga (mokoro is a canoe made of a hollowed out tree trunk … they still use the traditional wooden mokoros at Oddballs). We got in the mokoro and Moga took us closer to the elephant that was feeding in the water. We glided along low in the water and reached our accommodation., Oddballs Enclave. They didn’t have enough rooms for our group of 16 so Jude and I are the only ones here until a couple fly in the afternoon.

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We were given a briefing about the camp and told when our mokoro/bush walk excursions would take place. Then we were taken to our rooms/cabins/tents (?). What an amazing set up! The permanent tents are set up on high platforms right next to the water. There is a wooden walkway between the tented bedroom and the outside bathroom. To have a shower you have to fill the bucket and pull it up high so gravity can do its work when you turn on the shower. I have a little balcony off the bedroom.

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We had a few minutes to settle before heading out in the mokoro. Moja took us through the shallow channels that the hippos make when they feed (they stay in deeper water during the day). He stopped to point our different plants and a tiny frog that blended in with the reeds. We got out and went for a walk in the bush. Moja explained that they have the Big 5 animals … yep, lions and leopards … so why am I walking here! But they will be resting in the shade until the late afternoon. It was really hot and I wanted to be resting in the shade too. We found a herd of impala that were nervously watching our movements. After a couple of hours we were back on the mokoro and headed back for lunch.

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We felt very special being the only guests at lunch. There were some colourful birds that flitted around the lodge while we were eating. I was feeling quite dehydrated and tried to drink lots of water, which only made me feel sick. So after lunch I had a rest and decided not to do the 3.30pm mokoro ride and walk in the heat. I tried out the bucket shower but couldn’t get any hot water so had a very quick cold shower.

Jude came back from the mokoro ride and quickly got me to go and see the elephant at the next camp site. There were baboons on the road and Pony (her name sounds like pony – she is the camp director)/hostess came with us to make sure we were safe. With a backdrop of a brilliant sunset a large elephant was in the water ripping up weeds. WOW.

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Dinner was at 7.00pm. The pumpkin soup, chicken and vegetables and jam tart was much better than anything Clever and JP could whip up in the truck kitchen. In the darkness you could hear the sound of hippos nearby as they fed in the shallow channels. After dinner Pony walked us back to our tents by torch light. The light in my tent had been working but now wasn’t so once again I had to get ready for bed using my head torch.

Posted by MissWalker 10:41 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

Southern Circle: Day 14

sunny 28 °C

12 July 2017

A later start today. Breakfast was at the truck at 7.30am and Clever cooked scrambled eggs. I was grateful to escape my dark little room. I heard the generator working but the lights flickered on and of and stayed off.

At 8.00am we started a bush walk with the San men and women. Two women had beautiful babies strapped to their backs. They described the different plants and roots and their uses – they did this in their own language, which has lots of clicking sounds – and this was translated for us. Two young men made a fire by rubbing sticks together until they got an ember and blowing on the ember. The walk was very interesting – so much better than the dancing last night.

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We hit the road just after 9.00am and only had a ‘bushy bushy’ stop along the way, arriving in Maun (pr Maoon) around 2.00pm. Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta, it still has village status despite being a sizeable town with a small international airport. The lodge looked good, with a nice swimming pool but the rooms were a bit run down and the bathroom was even worse.

Clever was able to use the kitchen at the lodge and we ate lunch in the dining room. There was a flight over the delta and everyone except me had decided to do it. I’ll be happy to see the delta on the flight tomorrow. I spent the afternoon doing some washing, reorganising my bag (we can only take a backpack on the flight tomorrow) and organising my photos … a few hours well spent.

After the flight the group went to find ATMs and a supermarket, and Jude was good enough to also get some local currency for me. Up until now we have used the South African Rand – in Namibia it’s one to one with the Namibian Dollar. But Botswana’s currency is the Pula.

Dinner was also served in the lodge dining room. We had pork chops and beef sausages, potato and mixed vegetables followed by a biscuit and custard dessert. A very nice meal.

Posted by MissWalker 08:43 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

Southern Circle: Day 13

sunny 32 °C

11 July 2017

We’re going to Botswana!

Breakfast was at the lodge at 6.30am and we departed at 7.00am. We made a stop at the last town before the Namibian border, so Clever could get fresh supplies at the supermarket and so we could spend the last of our Namibian dollars.

We’ve had lunch at some places that are remote and dusty but today’s lunch was the most un-scenic place of all. We stopped beside a service station – there was no shade and there were the remains of smashed vehicles. But it was the best place to stop and set up a quick lunch of rolls and salad because it was right next to the border.

After lunch we walked to the border with Clever while William and JP began the long process of getting the vehicle stamped out of one country and into another. We had already filled out our exit cards and were stamped out of Namibia, we showed the stamp as we exited the gate and walked through no man’s land for about ten minutes before entering Botswana. In Botswana we filled in an entry card and were stamped into the country then showed the stamp as we walked out the gate. We had to wait about half an hour for William to get the truck through and we were on our way.

The scenery was different to Namibia. Botswana is very flat and there’s more trees and bushes. There are no fences beside the road and cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys roam freely. We only had a ‘bushy bushy’ stop along the way and arrived at our accommodation around 4.30pm.

The camp is called Ghanzi Trail Blazers, which is a very appropriate name. The track into the place was very long, with deep sand and it felt like we were blazing a trail through the wilderness. This accommodation could best be described as basic or rustic African style. However, I’d just call it awful and creepy. The little huts were spread out and I had one at the back, which meant I had to walk through scrub and thick sand to get there. The room was basic but had mosquito nets and you need them because there are gaps around the doors and the window screens don’t fit properly. The bathroom is outside – it had a roof over the shower, toilet and basin but was open with a wooden fence around it.

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The electricity runs off a generator and only operates for a few hours a night … off at 10.00pm and back on around 6.00am. The hot water is heated by a fire and is available for a couple of hours in the evening. I immediately noticed a couple of spiders in my room … that’s not a good start! I had an early shower because I didn’t want to be out in the bathroom when it’s cold and dark.

We had dinner at the truck and even had a big campfire tonight. We had onion soup, lamb stew, pap and spinach. After dinner we took our little camp chairs over to watch some dancing performed by the San people. The San are the funny tribe from the movie from a while back called The Gods must be Crazy. The dancing and chanting was repetitive and it wasn’t great.

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I used my head torch to find my way back to my cabin. I was very quick in the outside bathroom because there was a big spider on the wall. Even though the electricity was working the one light in my room was very dim and I had to use my head torch to get ready for bed. I wrapped the mosquito net around me to keep out the mosquitoes and spiders and I slept very well. At least I didn’t have rats scurrying around the room … one room did!

Posted by MissWalker 13:51 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

Southern Circle: Day 12

sunny 32 °C

10 July 2017

We had another 7.00am departure with a day of over 500kms ahead of us. After about 5 minutes of leaving the lodge we heard a loud bang … our luck had run out, after all the rough roads a tyre had blown out. But we were within the park and you are not allowed to leave your vehicle. A quick check revealed it was an inside back tyre and we travelled very slowly towards the park exit before it could be changed.

Once we reached the gates it took about 30 minutes to remove the two tyres and replace them.There was a huge hole in the tyre. We watched the sniffer dog check the vehicles leaving the park for any animal products. There was heated words with the occupants of one vehicle and they shut the gate on that car until it was sorted out.

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The lunch stop was near the road outside a service station and across the road from the Okahandja markets. We had some time to look through the markets but I wasn’t really interested – I’ll have a good look at the markets at Victoria Falls. We had yummy hamburgers for lunch and got back on the road.

We arrived in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, around 3.00pm and had a guided tour of the city. The guide was hard to understand, it was very hot and I was tired so the tour wasn’t very enjoyable. Windhoek didn’t look too exciting. But I do remember the guide saying this building and that building was paid for by North Korea in exchange for a uranium deal. There is a Fidel Castro Ave and Robert Mugabe Ave … Namibia has the best friends!

It was another 20km to our accommodation at Heja Game Lodge … we left the highway and went on and on down a terrible sandy road to the lodge. No truck dinner tonight, we were on our own with an option to take a taxi for the long trip back to Windhoek or eat at the lodge, which everyone did. I enjoyed having some time in my room catching up (wifi again!) on writing and photos.

A boring travel day with very few photos after the photography overload of the last couple of days.

Posted by MissWalker 09:24 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Southern Circle: Day 11

sunny 30 °C

I've added a couple of photos to yesterday's entry.

9 July 2017

We had a 6.30am breakfast at the lodge and were packed up and on the road at 7.00am. We had another full day of game drives in the truck, which is great because you are high up and the windows slide down. Not so great when 20 people try to take photos from one side of the truck.

We were off to a great start – soon saw elephants near the road, some rhinos (they always seem to hide in the bushes) and a lion in the distance. We drove for hours on the bumpy, dusty road and saw so many animals. The highlight was seeing several groups of elephants close up … they are huge! The low-light would have to be the long drop toilet stop … eeewww. We also drove on the salt flats and were allowed to get out there.

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We arrived at our next accommodation in the park, Okaukuejo Lodge, around 2.00pm and had lunch at the truck. The next game drive was leaving at 3.00pm but I was just too tired and too sore from bouncing around in the truck to go back out again. Jude and I had a leisurely afternoon – walked to the store to buy an ice cream and relaxed in our rooms (did some blog writing). In the late afternoon we went to the waterhole before dinner. This is a similar set up to the other lodge with a safe viewing area and waterhole that is floodlit at night.

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We had a lovely dinner at the truck – steak, potato salad, pumpkin and bean salad followed by apple crumble and custard. Clever and JP had been working very hard. After dinner we went back to the waterhole to catch the night action. There were a couple of rhinos drinking and a giraffe standing very still in the background. After the rhinos had finished and wandered off the giraffes came in for a drink, then a springbok and another couple of giraffes. The giraffes are very cautious and wait a long time before bending to drink.

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Posted by MissWalker 08:06 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

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