Okavango Delta, canoes and bush walk

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We get up extremely early at 3:30 AM to make the long detour due to the road being washed away. This early departure is necessary because some people have a 3 PM flight over the Okavanga Delta. All in all, we need to drive 750 km today as a result of this detour. We hang out in our seats, sleep and read as the bus goes towards Maun, where we arrive just in time to set our fellow travelers off for their flight and empty our near bursting bladders. The remaining people head to the Sedia Hotel, where we spend the night. Tomorrow we visit the Okavango Delta, but we cannot carry too much with us because we’ll be traveling by Mokuro, a small African canoe.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

In the morning we check out of the hotel, and in open jeeps head to the Delta. Most of our baggage remains behind in the bus, including most of the electronics as they’ll be useless there anyway. We arrive at the water where our canoes are waiting.

We board two people to a canoe, and head out into a narrow canal surrounded by high reed. The boat feels wobbly underneath me, and I’m already tense about being in a small boat. It takes me nearly an hour to relax enough to video some of the surroundings. Along the way we stop at a small clearing where a pair of Hippos are hanging out in a pool and pose as they are photographed by us. After about an hour and a half we arrive at our island for the night; I can relax my butt muscles that are as hard as ebony wood from the tension. We setup camp and then need to wait until 4:30 PM when one of the guides will take us for a bush walk. Most people pass the time swimming, trying to pole a canoe (incl. Gepke who did not fall in the water), and playing a game called “Pass the Pig”, played with a pair of pig shaped dice. The pyromaniac in me is fascinated with the fire in the middle of the camp, and I enjoy passing time with throwing small twigs at it, and staring at them burn.

Then we are called back to the canoes to sail to another island for our bush walk. The walk is beautiful in the late afternoon sun, and we’d enjoy it even if we did not encounter any animals, but our guide spots a herd of zebra and we walk towards them. Although they are aware of us and are looking straight at us, they don’t make any attempt to move away, so we can approach to a distance of less than 100 meters and take some good photos and video of these beautiful creatures. I’ve never been out in the open like this, and this close to a herd of zebras without a fence between them and me.

The sun is starting to set so we need to head back to camp, where Jaco has prepared dinner. We sit in a circle around the campfire to eat and drink, while the guides perform some local songs and dance. We turn into bed, but I hardly get a wink of sleep due to all the noises in our camp. Mostly crickets, grunting Hippos and snoring group members.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The following morning camp is torn down and the trip in the canoes is reversed through the canal back to the point where the trucks will pick us up. Overnight our bus battery has run dead as Dion has left the ignition on. Dion and Jaco try to find jumper cables to jump start the bus, but no cables of sufficient length can be found, so a battery from another truck is temporarily removed and connected to start the bus. We drive into town to do some snack shopping and then return to the hotel again, as many members forgot to use the bathroom. Then we are on our way again, this time to the San Bushman region, where the Bushmen will show us how they live.

Since no on really slept well in camp, it’s mostly quiet in the bus as many people catch up with a few winks. Around noon we arrive at our lodging for tonight: Ghanzi Trailblazers Camp, where a number of bushmen huts await us for the night. The huts are small, with two beds in them and nothing else. It’s quaint and original, but I start to long for a real room, with a comfortable bed, electricity and Wifi; I know, I’m spoiled…

In the afternoon very authentic looking Bushmen and women take us for a walk and explain about the different roots and plants they use as their medicine, and where to find them. There is a variety of wonder roots for ailments such as headaches and diarrhea, but also arthritis, birth control and anti-malaria medication. After the bush walk the tribe sings and dances for us around the campfire. They look very authentic with the men in nothing more than a loin cloth and the women with bare breasts and small babies on their back. It reminds me much of the movie “The gods must be crazy” and I remind myself to watch this movie again when I get home. I now have a very different perspective.

After the dance there is not much left to do other than turn into the uncomfortable beds, as the generator is turned off at 10 PM. We don’t need to worry about the odd bush sounds during the night, as Rollie’s snoring drowns out all other sounds and the bush hut walls do not dampen that sound. Again, I do not sleep much during the night…

Next: Namibia

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