From bugs to tyres to a Safari cruise on the river!

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Day 60: Gweta, Botswana-Kasane, Botswana (6 November 2009)

We finally did fall asleep and morning eventually came. I thanked my husband for keeping me safe and sane amidst the bugs and their friends and we got ourselves ready to leave. The place was really very nice with wonderful staff and owners; but of course, minus the bugs! The lounge, bar and pool and food were all really lovely but it felt like insect central and unfortunately that colored my view of the place. Well, onwards and upwards and further into Botswana we go on our way to Kasane.

We got up, disentangled ourselves from our one mossie net over our one twin bed and with a very quick and cold shower amidst the dead bugs from the spray last night we started the day. We packed up quickly, left our bug-infested room (through no fault of the owners of the hotel-just some of the life that comes with Botswanan adventures), used the internet quickly, put our bags on the coach, had some brekky and were on way. Now, you have to remember, not everyone had the same experience as we did as some people had inside rooms. They too had mossie nets but the rest of the bugs weren’t as prevalent in their rooms. We said goodbye to Jen (the owner’s daughter) and thanked the lodge manager too and were on our way. Our transport journey was an interesting one this morning. We watched as a few elephants crossed the road right in front of us on their way to who knows where. We saw a truck’s trailor skid and flip over completely (the driver was pissed but fine) and some of us (not me) had to push the coach around it because after trying on our own we got stuck in the sand and eventually we were able to continue driving on a very bumpy road to Nata. We stopped for some stuff to eat for lunch on the bus later and were off again, soon to make a toilet stop only to realize that we had two flat tyres from the bad roads that we had been driving on all day. Paul and Karel were able to change one (as we had a spare) but then we had to go to a local station to put on another tyre-it’s not as if AAA is around the corner or there’s a petrol station often in sight.

After a bit of a wait (Mathew and I sat under a tree and read) we were back on the coach and on our way to the Toro Safari Lodge in Kasane on the edge of Chobe National Park. We finally arrived and were shown to our rooms which were lovely (but very little light again). We had beautiful thatched roof huts (the roof met the walls this time) with air-conditioning right by a small stream and the restaurant was a few small feet away and it was outside right on the river. It was a very pretty place to stay. After putting our things away in the room we found out that the lodge boasts at least two crocodiles and a hippo; all of which could be relaxing in the stream right outside of our hut. Lovely, right?! Well, all part of the journey! We gave Paul our money for the group t-shirts that would be made by a Zimbabwean man who will smuggle them back across the border to us tomorrow and then we hopped into a truck to our boat for a sunset game drive/cruise along the Chobe River.

The cruise was a really cool ride and a very different way to do a game drive as so many of our others have been done in trucks and 4x4s. The boat was a double-decker with white, plastic and movable chairs along the top and bottom decks. There was a ‘bar’ well, an esky with drinks to be purchased for the journey and we had a perfect sky and great weather for our ride. We saw soooo many animals…baboons, elephants, antelope, crocodiles, hippos, birds and water buffalo and many with their young! It was again amazing to see them in such a natural habitat just playing and hanging and living their lives. It’s incredible as we are just visitors to their life and on their own turf; so different than seeing animals in zoos or anywhere where they are a guest of your own natural habitat. We all had ‘lense envy’ of Eveline’s ginormous camera but knew in the end she’d send us all the pictures of the mouths of the hippos and the smiles of the baby elephants. We enjoyed every minute of our cruise and were treated once again to another beautiful African sunset with elephants and animals amidst the backdrop of the landscape.

We thanked the drivers and our guides and after a short van ride we were back at the lodge. We did a quick change and went straight to the dinner buffet where we ate outside dodging Botswana’s kamikaze cecadas that flew everywhere without looking and made the same annoying noise they make in New York in August. After dinner we chatted with Ian and Louise and Eveline on some huge chairs and couches by the river and eventually headed to bed. We had thoroughly enjoyed our time in Botswana (minus the bugs of course) and new that even more adventure lay around every corner. We felt we had made a really good connection with Ian and Louise and the four of us were already talking about another African adventure in the future. The two of them were going to be staying on in Africa after our tour and doing our Namibian adventure on their own and then spending a week down in Capetown. They’d rented a truck with a tent on the top and would be camping and staying at lodges and basically doing the same trip that we had done but in the other direction. We figured if they had a good time doing that and we had a good time with the camping portion of our next trip that it was a match made in heaven and there was Tanzania and Kenya and so many other parts of Africa to still see!

Tomorrow: The last full day of our tour…Zambia and Victoria Falls!

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