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The long road home


BOTSWANA | Tuesday, 8 April 2008 | Views [1055]

Cruising in the Okovango Delta, Botswana.... before it rained

Cruising in the Okovango Delta, Botswana.... before it rained

In Botswana it rained. We knew we'd be following the back of the wet season all the way down Africa, and it seems in Botswana it caught up with us. It was only an hour or two drive across from Vic Falls in Zimbabwe to the Chobe National Park in Botswana but all of a sudden the clouds became dark and the roads looked rather wet. You should have seen our faces when we pulled up at our camping ground - it was all mud - yuck!

Before we left Zimbabwe Simon bought a local newspaper. The Papers are all owned by the goverment and they make for interesting reading. I've held onto this newspaper and it will be coming back to New Zealand with me - you will never have seen anything so one-sided in your life. There was nothing subtle about it - if it hadn't been so sad it would have been funny. 4 full page advertisements against Morgan (the opposition leader), even the cartoons were childish attempts to discredit him.

Sorry - back to Botswana.  Botswana had these funny rules, meant to combat foot-and-mouth disease that meant that we were not supoosed to carry any wooden products or animal products from one region to the next.  Every now and then we had to stop at check points and walk us and our shoes through disinfectant baths and wait while they sprayed the tyres of the truck.  This also meant several times a day we had to implement "Operation Dairy Product".  The driver or leader would buzz us from the cab when we were approaching check-points and we's have to empty the on-board fridge of all food quick-smart and hide it on of the under-floor lockers.  We also had to make sure all our wooden souveniers were well hidden in the event they decided to seach the truck.  This all became rather tedious by day two, but while they did open a few lockers on one search, they never found our "stash" (including two 6ft wooden giraffe's a girl had bought).

The Okavanga Delta was one of the main reasons for stopping off in Botswana. Its a large wetland (fresh-water) area dotted with islands and (of course) wildlife. Its one of Prince Harry's favorite places in Africa and he was there at the same time as us.

We loaded our overnight gear (including tents and cooking equipment) into our Mokoro's - dug out wooden logs - two of you to a Mokoro, and a "poler" stands on the back and poles you through the reeds while you lie back in the sun. After an hour you pull up on a small island where you camp for the night. Its a bush camp, meaning no "facilities" but after 7 weeks in Africa I don't think we really noticed the lack of bathrooms/runnign water. We swam near our campsite (they assured us that while there were crocs and hippos in the area, they wouldn't come to where we were swimming - quite how they knew that I don't know!) and in the afternoon went for a walk around the island looking for animals. It was about then that we noticed several thunderstorms on the horison, and after several hours of walking... we didn't quite make it back in time! Several thunderstorms hit us at once and we got drenched! We ended up taking refuge in our tents (which held up suprisingly well under the torrent of water outside) and didn't leave our tents for 13 hours until the rain stopped sometime the next morning!

Our last stop in Botswana were some famous rock paintings. After a days driving we made it to the gate of the campsite, only to discover the area was underwater. A quick look around and a vote decided "Bugger Botswana, lets get to Namibia" so we turned around and headed for the border.

But Botswana wasn't quite finished with us yet as it appeared Namibia was "closed" after 6pm (the border office was shut), so we stuck around for another (wet) night before heading over the border.

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