It’s been a while since my last post, but that’s because we spent the last 6 days traveling to the northern part of Botswana! We visited the Okavango Delta, which is where a lot of the wildlife lives in Botswana. Specifically, our stops were in Maun and Kasane. While we stayed in Maun we visited the Khwai community and while we were in Kasane we visited the Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. It was a jam-packed couple of days, but I’m going to try and go into as much detail as possible.
Day 1: We drove from Gaborone to Maun. This took about 15 hours and was completely exhausting.
Day 2: We visited the Khwai community, which is a community that is deep into the Moremi Game Reserve. This community has to be accessed by safari vehicle, because the road going to it is dirt and is very bumpy. The drive from Maun to Khwai was supposed to be about 3 hours; it took us 5. There are two roads to get to Khwai, but one of them requires that you pay a toll. Unfortunately, we got about forty-five minutes down this road before someone realized we’d taken the wrong one. We had to turn around to get back to the other road. Additionally, two of the people in our group rode on a smaller truck that kept breaking down. On top of that, the truck with 9 of us in it was behind the smaller one for the entire ride and we got sandblasted for the entire drive. I’ve never had so much sand in my eyes (or probably my lungs!) in my entire life. The plus side is that it made my skin very smooth. We finally arrived at about 4pm and left to start back to Maun at 5:15pm or so. The sun sets at about 5:30pm and our vehicles were open-air. We spent the fourish hours back to Maun huddled together under blankets, singing at the top of our lungs to stay warm. It was definitely a bonding experience!
Day 3: We drove from Maun to Kasane. This drive was not as bad–maybe like 10 hours? It was still a long day and we were very excited to get to our chalets and go to sleep.
Day 4: This was absolutely my favorite day. At 6:30am we went on a game drive in Chobe National Park (the animals are usually out early in the morning and in the evening) and saw so many amazing things. The sunrise was incredible, and we started the drive off with seeing some impalas. As we moved toward the Chobe River we started to see some buffaloes drinking and grazing. The best part, though, was when we drove up to a hippo and her baby. The baby was so young that it still had its umbilical cord attached, and our safari guide said he thought that it was probably about five hours old. Its mom started walking over to the river and it got up to follow her but had to stop and lay down a few times to rest. Then, once it got in the water, it didn’t know how to swim. It kept going under and bobbing back up. I’m hoping it figured out how to swim so its mom wouldn’t have to help it!
Later that day we went for a boat ride on the Chobe River. I think this was my favorite activity of the entire excursion. We saw a couple of crocodiles, including a few that were outside the water. We also saw a lot more buffaloes and a few hippos who did this thing where they opened their mouths super wide to show that it was their territory. There were a lot of elephants eating grass who didn’t seem to mind at all that we were right beside them. There was even one that was walking up the middle of the river. We also came across a little beach that had kudus, impalas, and a family of baboons on it. This included a baby baboon that was tumbling around and playing, which might have been the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Sunset happened while we were on the water too, and it was incredible. I would do the boat ride every day if I could.
Day 5: This was our day at Victoria Falls, which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We visited it during the high water season, so the amount of mist from the falls made it seem like it was raining. I was really happy that I had my raincoat with me! The whole place was beautiful, and I hope that someday I can go back when it’s low water just to see it look a little different. There was not much wildlife here, just a few monkeys, but the waterfalls definitely made up for that. At first it was cloudy, but as we kept walking the sun came out and there was a double rainbow. It was just such an incredible place.
Day 6: We drove back from Kasane to Maun. This was probably a 13-hour drive, and we got back around 9pm which was good. I took the opportunity to start packing (I leave for home on Thursday!) when we got back.
This will probably be my last blog post from the trip. Tomorrow we will have some presentations, visit an HIV hospital, and have a last big dinner altogether. Botswana is an amazing country and I would love to come back someday to show my family around. I’m going to miss it, but I’m definitely ready to go home. I miss sleeping in my own bed and my family!