10/15/07: My pickup for the Safari company that will be taking me through Botswana on a 7 day tour ending in Jo'Berg is at 11am. I'm not going to lie, I didn't fell well. One of my dorm mates was very ill while staying in the same room, and I swallowed about half the Zambezi the day before. On top of that people kept buying me drinks at the bar the previous night and I felt obligated to stay up and hang out. Finally, though, my voice stopped working and I had to crash. I met Darren, the guide, and Matt and Naomi the other members of the Safari in the morning, and we headed to the border of Zambia and Botswana, about 1 hour away.
Trucks at the border
When we arrived at the border we were greeted with a line of trucks that looked like it was days long. This line, thankfully, was not our line. We continued on and drove onto a ferry that took us across the river that serves as the border. As the day went on, I began to get worse. I felt as though I had razor blades inside my throat. Eating, drinking and eventually breathing became a chore. That night we arrived at our first camp and Matt and Naomi decided to go on the optional river cruise to spot game. I opted out and took a nap instead.
10/16/07: This morning I forced myself to get up for the Chobe game drive. I was not be dissapointed:
Sunrise on the Chobe River
We saw Water Buffalo, Lions, Impala, Kudo, Wart Hog and Elephant. After the drive we packed up camp and made our way toward the Okavango Delta. We stayed in Maun that night and headed to the Delta the next day.
The Pumblechookian Elbow: Sick (really, really sick), having just discovered that I left my pack towel and headlamp in Zambia, and stuck with about $100 in Kwacha (Zambian monopoly mon...I mean Zambian currency) that I couldn't exchange, we went to dinner at the restaurant in the campsite. There we met a couple, the girl was born in South Africa but considers herself Canadian, and the guy, lives in Oz but was born in Croatia, and she just hates Americans. They represent the 3rd and 4th 9/11 conspiracy theorists that I have met on the trip so far, and they are a retarded bunch (we are up to 5 now, so I am adding a list to the blog to track nationalities of the believers). I don't want to go into it to much, since I was left with such a bad taste from these two. To make a long story short, I made some good points to counter the idiotic theory, but was not nearly as sharp as I would have liked to be given the circumstances. Because being anti-american is 'en vogue' on the traveler circuit (thanks Dubya) people say whatever, but what they fail to recognize is that to tell an American that Americans orchestrated 9/11 so they could justify a war for oil is like telling a Jewish person the Jews orchestrated the Holocuast so they could have a justification for the creation of Isreal (I am comparing here in principle, and not in the magnitude of the tragedy).
That night I woke up sporting a big fever and soaked to the bone. I never thought I had that much water in my body. The sleeping bag was soaked through and I was about to nuke myself with Cipro, but without knowing if it was viral or bacterial, I was hesitant to kill every organism in my body. I fell back to sleep, and slowly began to recover.
10/17/07: The Okavango Delta. We arrived at the pickup point at about 8:30 am, where we were meeting the polers, local people that guide into the delta by Makoro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makoro).
Makoros for several groups
It was about a 2 hour pole to the campsite, situated well within the Delta. All of our equipment was on the makoros with us. We arrived, set up camp and waited for the late afternoon hours to aproach, as the daytime temperature reached the mid-90's. That evening the guide, who is also a poler, took us on a game walk. We saw Zebra and Elephant, and then headed back to camp. The evening was spent having dinner by the campfire and reading. The delta is in the middle of nowhere. Completely remote, I remember the nights being peaceful and thoughtful. It's the type of place that makes you wonder to yourself, 'are you far enough away yet? How far then?' The polers had to keep the fires alight thru the night, and keep watch for lions, as we shall see.
The Okavango Delta
10/18/2007: The game walk this morning is one of the highlights of the trip. Getting on at about 6 am, we poled over to another area of the delta and started the hike. It was one of the best tramps possible, with Jackels, Elephant, Wildebeest, Zebra, a dead Hyena, and Lions. As we walked, we came across various lions tracks, other animals, and finally a dead Hyena. we scared off a Kite that was scavenging the kill, and had a look. It had been killed from one bite to the throat, and no question it was a Lion.
We continued on for about 30 minutes and then, off to the right, 6 lions leaped out of a bush about 15 meters away. They saw us before we saw them, which was quite a shock. The key with lions in the daytime is to stand your ground. If you run, it will trigger the predatory response and they will chase you. Apparently in a situation where someone runs, the guide has to step in front of the charging lion. I'm not sure how that would work. Keep in mind that the guides do not carry guns in the Delta, so we are unarmed. I took one small step back when we first saw them, and the lead female took two steps forward. After that we all stood our ground and the female moved off (the male and juveniles had already moved away). What a day. That night we took the Makoros over to an island to watch the sun set.
Sunset on the Delta
10/19/07: Another game walk this morning, and as we try and make our way to the hiking location, we find our landing point occupied by a bull elephant. After making noise, shouting, and getting fairly close, we have to move on. The bull just won't move. The hike was good, and on the return the bull is still present, so we gave him a wide berth. After that we packed, loaded the Makoros, and headed back to the Thebe camp ground.
10/20/07: Today we went to the Rhino reserve in southern Botswana. We saw a Black Rhino up close which is very rare, as there are only 4 in the park. Technically, if you want to see the Big 5, it must include the Black Rhino. Even though they are smaller than White Rhinos, they are more aggressive, and thus the inclusion into the big 5. That night we watched South Africa beat England for the rugby world cup. Congratulations Spring Boks.
10/21/07: Today we drove through the Kalahari desert and back to Jo'Berg. Tomorrow I head to Kruger park, as my time in Africa is coming to a close.