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Day 65: Livingstone, Zambia-Kasane, Botswana (11 November 2009)

Another day, another tour! We woke up this morning at our Zambezi Waterfront campsite and when visiting the ablution box I could only think about the Grey Beach washhouse at sleep away camp and the memories that that brings with it…the hair drying room, Mr. Bill’s mirror that now sits in Jackie’s basement and the numerous times that clothing was stolen when someone was in the shower. Anyway, the sun was out and the lights were on so I was definitely happier to be in the campsite in daylight especially since my torch blew last night of course so it was even more difficult than the usual to see in the darkness. And remember, at these campsites you’re not just looking for things in front of you but it’s the crawlies that you could step on that could be deadly as well!

We had our first breakfast on this tour, a full buffet which was alright and who can complain when they get to eat dinner and breakfast on the Zambezi River, right? We finished eating, packed up our tents, loaded the truck and away we went! We drove a short while to the border where we got another Zambia stamp (outgoing this time) and waited again for the ferry that doesn’t look like a ferry! It took a bit of awhile for our turn on the ferry this time and eventually we actually boarded the ferry prior to the truck so we walked our way to the Botswanan border post to get our stamps and waited for Colin to get across with the truck. We had some soft drinks while we waited and upon Colin’s arrival we headed off into Botswana and after awhile arrived at a shopping center where we could get some snacks and drinks and the guys got stuff for dinner and we drove basically around the corner and got to the Chobe Safari Lodge where we were camping for the night.

We set up camp right by the fence border of the park amidst the monkeys and the baboons and in direct view of the hippos and the crocodiles. Once the kitchen was set up (a table next to the fire) we had some lunch of sandwiches, set up the tents and then put on some bathing suits and took our stuff with us for the sunset river cruise in the late afternoon. We got to hang out in the pool a bit which was really nice. This was a lovely lodge with really nice chalets and cabins. It seems that many of the places have really nice accommodations and then also maintain a campsite as well and those are the sites we’re staying at so we can use some of the amenities of the resorts but we stay at the campsite and use the ablution boxes. We used the fancy bathrooms and got changed and then got ready for the cruise. This was the same cruise that we had been on a few nights ago, but we were able to go on a really small boat this time that was very close to the water level and we had Chapman as our guide. We knew that we had already driven this same route, but it was really great to be in one of the small boats and we felt quite close to the hippos and crocs along the way and we were able to see the elephants so close up. Remember, we didn’t feel the big need to be face to face with a hippo again (considering) but it was a great ride with another beautiful sunset to close the show!

It’s Botswana, so you know there’ll be bugs when it hits nighttime and that there were! We got back from the cruise, went back to our campsite just next to the river and had some dinner by fire and lantern light with many little crawly and flying creatures to join us. Yohan had made dinner which was rice and veggies for me and chicken added in for the others. It was really good and it was cool that it was made on a basic hotplate as we had no stove facilities at all of course. And then, as this is a full participation tour; we had to go and wash the dishes…I know, not what everyone in the world would want to do on their honeymoon…but we wanted to see Africa and without that lotto winning it can’t all be five star treatment, right? So, hands on it is…the washing was a three tub system; one with soap, one with sterilizer and the other just clean water and then some drying cloths. It went pretty quickly as there were five of us and we all went to get it done quickly.

Then of course I had to introduce more people and more cultures to the art of s’more making and everyone was quite happy with their dessert treat! Jerrit and Yohan had had them before as there have been many other s’more happy campers who have shown them, but it was the first for Linda and Simon and Colm and they do always make us smile as well! The husband and I went to bed early as there were hundreds of bugs that just seemed to fly right into you and land wherever they wanted and you just couldn’t get away from them; at least in our tents with the tiny meshed windows we were somewhat safer. Unfortunately, the Botswanan night air tonight was relatively hot and sticky so it was a little difficult to fall asleep! Eventually we fell asleep knowing that we only had one more night in Botswana with all of the bugs (we decided that bugs and Botswana both start with ‘b’ so that’s why they go together-nuts we know, but something had to pass the time, right?) and tomorrow night should put us up close with the elephants so it should be totally worth it!

Tomorrow: Elephant Sands!

Intrepid begins!

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Day 64: Livingstone, Zambia (10 November 2009)

We were certainly well rested this morning when we awoke realizing that although yesterday’s events seemed like a dream they were complete reality and we felt so very lucky to be able to have that reality as a part of our lives. We got dressed and went to breakfast (as it was included in our room) and were shocked to see Panos, our friendly Cypress-born radiologist sitting in the restaurant in front of us. He wasn’t supposed to be there, his tour left days ago to go into the Caprivi strip of Namibia and they would then basically be two days behind us on our new tour even though we were staying in different places, it was the same gist of locations. Get this, because he is a Cypress citizen he has a Cypress and a Greek passport and depending on the country he could use either to get in. He got all the way to the Caprivi Strip of Namibia and couldn’t get into the country due to some small snag of the visas on his passport. It seemed very confusing but GAP Adventures covers themselves very well and basically says that you must take care of all of that paperwork before arrival and if there are snags in it they are not responsible. So, he had to take a taxi and a public bus all the way back to Livingstone and then he had to figure out how to get to Maun four days later to reconnect with the tour. Luckily, Constance was great and got him a room and was going to help him to get to Maun and we never found out the specifics, but Panos had been traveling for a full two years and all of the detail of the stories he’d told led us to believe that he was loaded, so he knew that if he had to hire a private plane to get to Botswana he could do that too. How crazy is that, right?!

Anyway, we ate with our friend and wandered to the craft market with him and let him know when we were planning on leaving so we could say goodbye (again) and we were off to do some shopping! We knew we still had one more time to go to the Vic Falls craft market as we were to go there on our new tour tonight but we still wanted to check out this one, too. We only bought a bit of artwork and then headed back to the hotel to pack, check out and find our way to our next venue. We said goodbye to Panos who helped us bring our luggage to the front of the hotel, checked out and thanked Constance and her assistant as they had ordered a car to take us to the Zambezi Waterfront Campsite free of charge which made our lives so much easier as the driver would already know where to go and we didn’t have to come up with the cash. Did we tell you about the cash here? The money is called Qwatcha and it’s all very old and very dirty bills. What would be equivalent to a 10 US dollar taxi would be about 400,000 Qwatcha. It’s almost ridiculous to figure out the money. And, it’s funny as most countries in Africa seem to accept other country’s currencies, but no one will accept the Qwatcha; you can only use it in Zambia. On the other hand, no one at all will use Zimbabwean currency as it’s leader is basically printing money so it’s value is worthless. We bought at the Zambian craft market a set of Zimbabwean bills for the princely sum of 5 US dollars and we got, 10 million, 20 million, 50 billion, 100 billion and 100 trillion dollar notes. It’s great to feel like a king with them in your pocket but all combined you couldn’t even by bread!

Anyway, we made it to the campsite after a short drive and it was really pretty, right on the banks of the Zambezi River. We met our tour leaders, Yohan and Jerrit and our driver, Colin who were all South Africans. Surprisingly, it wound up that there were only five people on this tour as it was also a leg of a larger tour. Five people, including us! There was a girl Linda from New Zealand who had just finished another Intrepid camping trip from Nairobi, Kenya through the Serrengetti and two Irish guys (Simon and Colm) from Dairy, who were in Africa for their first time and then they were going to Dubai for a few days. The five of us in a truck that could seat about 15 with no airconditioning, big giant windows, a few eskies, power points in the back and a good sound system with comfortable seats.

We met everyone (not that that was hard), pitched our tents and used the internet and paid for a sunset dinner cruise for the evening on the Chobe River. It was a lovely boat ride and dinner was good and once again we were able to get beautiful African sunset photos. I really don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like them and I’ve seen my fair share of beautiful sunsets, but these are really just out of this world every night! We hung out for a bit after dinner trying to keep the mossies away and then hit the ablution box. Unfortunately the placement of tonight’s tents weren’t too close to stuff so I was really uncomfortable going anywhere much so in the tent we stayed for the night…monkeys were outside and we were inside, safe in our tent under the African night sky.

Tomorrow: Botswana again!