Tag Archives: Gweta

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!

South African Rusks and Botswanan Bugs

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Day 59: Okavanga Delta-Gweta, Botswana (5 November 2009)

We’re leaving the delta today! We woke up under the African night sky at around 5am to start to pack all of our smelly ‘deltafied’ clothing away and to be able to have some breakfast before we had to break down camp. Now, if I haven’t told you about these before, get ready for some yummy goodness. We had South African rusks. For anyone who has visited this great country before you have probably had the privilege, but if you haven’t think of Italian biscotti but better! We ate the kind from the OUMA company and they were buttermilk flavor. You dip them in your tea or coffee, wait for the liquid to swirl through them to make them soggy and chomp…they are delicious! South Africans eat them in many flavors but so far I have to say I am partial to the buttermilk.

We broke down our tents and said goodbye to our tent spot. In front of us one of the polers, who I nicknamed ‘machete-man’ had laid his machete down (he brought it I’m sure for chopping fire wood but I liked to think it was for protecting us against the wild) and he let me pick it up and take a photo (also not a thing to tell your mother when you do it) which was awesome! We said goodbye to our bush toilet (hoping not to have that experience again soon) and hopped in our mokorros for the ride back to the station leaving only our memories and hippo experience behind. All of our belongings including all of the garbage that was created in our three day journey rode back with us on our mokorros. We got to the station, tipped and thanked our polers, got into the 4x4s again and eventually arrived back at our old hotel in Maun where we met Karel and the coach at the ablution box in the back of the hotel and were finally given the privilege of a shower! Well, it appeared that the boys were using all of the water as the girls only got a trickle out of the shower heads, but a welcome trickle it was and the top layer of dirt was able to come off and after getting dressed in clean clothes with the smell of the delta behind us, we set out on our way to lunch at Nandos!

Nandos, for those of you who have never had the pleasure, is home of the Portugese chicken (and good veggie burgers) and specializes in peri-peri sauce. We ate our food, including chips with peri-peri salt on them and enjoyed every minute of the experience! After lunch we set out on our way to Gweta, Botswana, where we were to stay at the Gweta Lodge for the evening. We arrived at our thatched roof huts complete with mossie nets and an outdoor toilet, sink and shower (that would be the only bathroom facilities-don’t think there were also ones inside our hut) and very little light. The grounds of the resort were beautiful and the staff incredibly helpful and cheerful. We relaxed poolside, used the internet to update some fun face book status, and chatted with a guy at the bar. Ready for this one, he was a British PHD researcher who had been in Botswana for the last five years researching the habits of the brown hyena which is apparently very different than the spotted hyena that you may think of from The Lion King. The brown hyena, he said, is the third largest carnivore in Africa and it is endangered. He and others worked to track them by sedating them and tagging them and then releasing them back into the wild so they could follow their patterns and perhaps figure out a way to make life a little safer for them on their own land. He had tons of photos on his laptop that he showed us and he was staying at the lodge as he had many times before because his truck broke down and it would take a few days to replace the necessary parts.

After our chat with the hyena guy we went to have dinner which was beautifully set up outside. We would have eaten there as well but there were millions of little bugs the size of orzo pasta that were flying and landing everywhere. They attached themselves to drinks, were on the salad and even on the butter on the table. So, thankfully, the staff allowed us to move inside and we ate a beautiful buffet dinner inside sans bugs. But wait…there’s more! When we went back to our room there were bugs galore! No wonder the mossie nets were provided! You see, the top of the thatched roof hut didn’t reach the tops of the walls so there was a gap in the middle which let in all of the bugs. This also meant that there was no air conditioning; only a small fan in the center of the room. We couldn’t use our bathroom facilities easily as there was an outside light on and all of those same little bugs from dinner were all over the sink, toilet and shower by our room. It was so much that I went back to the bar to ask Paul if there were any inside rooms available as the room was flooded with bugs and creepy crawly things including a big, giant, green grasshopper. There were no other rooms available unfortunately so one of the staff members came and sprayed a strong bug spray in the room but couldn’t give us a coil to keep them away all night as it would give off a bad scent and bother my asthma. So, we hoped the grasshoppers and their friends would find their way outside and the flying bugs would go to sleep. I got under my mossie net and Mathew tucked me in and as I looked up there was a ginormous spider in the center so that was it for that one. We tucked ourselves in under one mossie net and hoped for the best as I slept part of the night with my torch on checking for other bugs and surprisingly after a two night adventure in the bush, this was the worst night’s sleep I had on the whole journey so far.

Tomorrow: Chobe National Park!