CDN Couple’s Great Africa Adventure (Part Three)
Following is the Day x Day tale of Mr and Mrs L who spent between October 25 and November 28, 2012 travelling in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The retired but “young at heart” couple, who are ages 70 and 68 respectively, have travelled many long and taxing trips during the last 15 years. And now it was time to visit Africa.
Read on. In part three of this four part series, we make our way through Botswana.
November 21 through 23
Okavango River in the Caprivi Strip
A mokoro is not an African motorcycle or a tweeting bird. It is a flat bottom dugout canoe made from a very large diameter tree and used for transportation and fishing. One person propels it or poles it with an oar hand fashioned from a tree. The modern version used for tourists is fashioned from fibreglass and is very stable. Our group of ten was divided to allow two persons and an ‘African Gondolier’ in each dugout. We travelled to a rapids a couple of kilometres up river from our lodge, propelled by a pontoon motor boat with the dugouts trailing tied alongside us until we reached a sandy shore. We hopped off and explored the small island and the rapids. Shortly, the dugouts took off with us comfortably seated on plastic lawn chairs. Up and around some of the rapids, then back down the river hoping to see hippos, but alas we were disappointed, but did see other creatures including crocodiles and many more pretty and nameless birds.
Following this adventure was a visit to a local tribal village, led by a guide who lived in one of the villages. The children were infectious with their energy, smiles and happy dispositions even though many were shoeless, their clothes torn and dirty.
Some of the older boys were much differently presented. There wore earrings, necklaces, bracelets, good runners on their feet , clean clothes that were emblazoned with New York, world soccer names and other such logos or names. One of the girls, a fifteen year old with two children, demonstrated what they do with millet for food. It was pounded in a huge mortar by two persons alternately pounding until the desired texture was created. Three different degrees of millet were produced, each having a specific purpose in producing their daily food supply. The final products that were prepared before our eyes included a porridge type cereal, a cereal for the babies (who only had mother’s milk to drink as there were no cows in this village and it was too expensive for them to purchase), a soup mixed with some berries as well as a beer that took too long to produce so it wasn’t seen. The cereal and soup tasted as something we could eat without hesitation. Inside one of the ‘homes’, a small single room with a thatched roof, hardened clay walls and a locked wooden door were all the trappings of their existence with clothes neatly hanging from lines strung between walls, some shelving holding cooking utensils and some purchased food essentials. A wood fire in the middle of the clay floor was used to heat the home when required and to cook the food. Smoke rose to the highest point of the roof and then dissipated. The parents and children up to about the age of four slept on the floor, while older children were sent to sleep together in boys and girls separate ‘homes’. The young children played football (soccer) using a poor under-inflated small ball, but nonetheless they were enthusiastically having a good time running back and forth kicking the ball towards the goal.
Crossing into Botswana from Namibia proved to be interesting. The Botswana government required that no fruit or meat be imported and that hoof and mouth disease was to be eliminated by having the vehicles entering their country drive through a disinfectant pool to cleanse their tires of disease. Each of us had to show two pair of shoes (even though we may have had more pairs packed away) then wipe them on a carpet soaked with disinfectant. No one questioned whether we carried any communicable disease.
Once into Botswana, we could see the Chobe River and the green lushness of the river banks in its valley.
Chobe National Park
No breakfast before we set out for another early morning game drive and within minutes of arriving at Chobe National Park, we were met by baboons (meaning many, many), a couple of warthogs along with their eight babies only days old, and a herd of African Cape Buffalo with such unusual faces framed by their large whitish horns. The head, scalp and horns of the buffalo create the effect of a 1950’S flip hairdo. BTW, they are considered one of the most dangerous of the animals. What a start!
This was followed by a spotted hyena, more buffalo in the water, a white egret, impala and their days old babies, lilac breasted roller birds, mongoose, guinea fowl (pea headed stupid birds…our description based on their inevitable running in directly front of our truck playing a game of chicken until the last second when they veered off to the side of the road), lions in the distance, Egyptian geese, water monitor lizards, waterbuck, two elephant herds with days old babies and some older young ones, sable antelope, baby elephant skeletons, 3 hippos with a tiny baby, crocodiles about a year old, a duck and ducklings that so far had escaped the notice of the nearby croc, Cape buffalo, kudu and some more of the same along the way. No, this does not mean we were getting tired of them. We just stopped yelling out ‘there’s a (Bleep) animal in front’.
Back for a late breakfast and later we took a boat cruise on the Chobe River, a part of the Chobe National Park, where again we saw elephants, their babies, herds of buffalo, crocodiles, rhino, hippos in and out of the water, springbock, marabou and yellow-billed storks, egrets riding on the backs of and feasting on the bugs of their buffalo hosts, waterbuck, warthogs, squacco heron, then lots more elephants, hippos and crocs.
Alongside and just outside our rooms at the lodge, and sometimes on the porches, we encountered wandering warthogs and vervet monkeys with some babies. Can’t escape it … monkeys and baboons are fascinating and cute, although they can be nasty and sometimes vicious.
A huge famed Baobab tree said to be 2000 years old growing beside the Zambian Immigration office, was a sight to see. Baobabs can live to 6000 years, bear fruit every 17 months and flowers at other times. They continue to grow even when they lose their leaves as the Baobob is classed as succulent; its trunk being 70% water, stringy and weak. Their bark appears to be like cement, but elephants can remove it with their trunks.
Next stop…Zambia. Part Two of a Five Part Series
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