Maybe I need to start the day before departure. Thursday evening, at home, in Pietermaritzburg. The wife had caught a cold earlier in the week, been to the doctor and got antibiotics. We were confident. She was going to make it. But then I started to feel warm and dizzy. Close to 12 hours before departure. 38.9 degrees Celsius! Not good! I packed my things, took some painkillers and went to bed. In the morning the thermometer showed 37. A miracle!
We decided to go to Maun and maybe make a two nights stop at a hotel and recover before continuing with the rest of the group. (With us was my sister, nephew and a friend of my sister). So off we went to the airport and flew to Johannesburg. A few hours later we sat on the plane to Maun. After more than an hour we were told to leave the plane. Something was wrong with the fuel tanks. This incident made us come late to Maun and plans needed to be changed, which gave us a night in Maun instead of the bush and maybe this was what at least I needed. Anyhow - we got to Maun and were fetched by the guide and brought to the river lodge and got supper.
Next morning we left for Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. Fascinating with this delta – one of few places were a flood ends with a delta far from the sea. Right in the desert! Very special! But our camp site was not close to water. We got there and had some lunch before we set out for some game viewing. I have been to a number of game reserves and seen many of the big mammals that southern Africa can offer. So far no leopard, though. This time I was happy that both the guide and my sister, who had organized the tour from our side, had lots of knowledge about birds. We saw many. Very beautiful and with interesting stories. I believe that people who just look for the big five miss a lot.
A lilac-breasted roller, by some called the national bird of Botswana.
Obviously we had short time in Moremi. Partly because of the delay with the flight. It was still OK. We saw a lot, we slept in tents in the middle of the park. I slept very hard but the others heard lions close. In the morning we also saw the spoor. An old, male lion. But we did not see him. On our way out of the camp we saw a big heard of elephants led by its matriarch. She stood close to the road and saw that all the other elephants, including the babies, could pass safely. We just had to wait! Impressive.
Day three meant quite a long drive from Moremi, via Maun to Tsodilo Hills in the north west of Botswana, close to Namibia. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. We arrived just in time to see the mighty mountains in sunset. Male hill, Female Hill, Child hill and another small hill which is called either the Grandchild hill or the Hill of the first wife. We spent two nights there and managed to see a lot. First of all a multitude of rock paintings along the rhino trail. Amazing! Another highlight was the Serpent cave. The carved snake is huge and possibly between 70 000 and 100 000 years old. We also knelt in the hollows, where human being was created according to one of the myths. A sacred place with very long history.
In the Serpent cave.
From Tsodilo we went back to Maun to rest a night at the river lodge. Well, for me it was not much of rest. According to Wikipedia Montezuma was emperor of Mexico but this night he took his revenge on me, in Botswana. The following morning I was not at all happy about the planning. First taxi to the bus station, bus from Maun to D’Kar and a pick up from D’Kar villige to the Dqae Qare San lodge. Anyhow, with much assistance from the group and some magic pills from the nurse, I survived and arrived in one piece and found a bed, for which I could have given my kingdom.
And it was good that I made it to the farm. Day seven we spent with a San family. I did not manage everything but appreciated that which I took part in. Like in the afternoon, when we walked in the semi desert. Sand and seemingly lifeless bushes. Suddenly one of the women starts to dig. It takes some time, others help her. But finally they have found water tubers. All of us got a piece. The taste was similar to raw potato but it contained much more water.
I still cannot understand how they found it.
It looked quite easy to brush off the sand. Even the peel was eatable.
Another special experience was the healing dance around the fire in the night. Although it is specially arranged for tourists we all felt welcome. Especially when the healers also laid hands on us, as if we belonged to the group.
Day eight we relaxed and only made a visit to the museum and the art shop. We bought some ostrich egg-shell jewelry, the so called Perals of the Kalahari. The day before we had seen how the San people work every little pearl for a long time.
The last day with a taxi to Maun and two flights, went smooth. We arrived to Durban on time and were happy to find our home in good order with a happy dog, which had been spoiled by our friends, who had been house-sitting for us. A bit tired but also very satisfied we went to bed after nine good days on our Botswana trip. Some health problems and some air obstacles but nothing serious. Thank you, dear sister, for showing us this wonderful part of Africa!