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Day 1 – Botswana Or Bust

One of the six southern border crossings between South Africa and Botswana

Dion, the guide/driver/cook for my Delta adventure, was sipping coffee in Bob's kitchen a full 20 minutes earlier than my scheduled 5:30am pickup. He looked comfortable in a raggy t-shirt and shorts, his feet would remain bare for the entire journey.

Pee break

I grabbed my bag and Bob opened the driveway gate for us, walking out to the van to see us off. I slid open the door and was greeted by Ingrid, a student from Norway touring a little of southern Africa after a semester abroad at the University of Cape Town. She broke the good news to me. The two of us were already half the customers for the 7-day Okavango Delta camping trip.

Making progress in southern Botswana

An hour later, we were at the HQ of Livingstone Trails, which also functioned as a hostel, picking up Peter (Holland) and Richard (England). Both guys were booked for Livingstone's longest tour (16 days), having begun with a 4-day Kruger Park safari, and set to end with Chobe Park (in northeastern Botswana) and Victoria Falls (on the Zimbabwe side). Ingrid was visiting Vic Falls too, so I was the only one signed up for just the Delta. It was a purposeful decision. Going to the falls meant $300 more for the tour, plus at least another $100 for the main attraction, Class V whitewater rafting on the mighty Zambezi River. Besides the money, my flight out of South Africa had already been changed once, and it was too costly to mess around with again.

colorful Capricorn mineral water

The first day was all about driving. Fast. Straight. With purpose. We stopped every few hours for food, gas, and toilets, covering about 1,200 km in 12 hours. By noon we had crossed Botswana's southern border. By 5pm we were spotting wild ostrich and elephants along the side of the highway. And by 5:30pm, we had pulled into Elephant Sands, a small, open air lodge and campsite without fences. We set up four individual tents at sunset. I sampled Botswana's very own St. Louis lager, which reminded me of the mass market American brews. I drank three to celebrate the start of a new African adventure.

Our camp at sunset, Elephant Sands

After the sun went down, we sat by a fire and watched the nearby watering hole which is frequented by elephants, and to a lesser degree, lions. It wasn't long before we began to hear the splish-splashing of an elephant in the water. A few flashlights were used to confirm its presence about 50 meters from us.

The watering hole and pool at Elephant Sands

The buffet dinner consisted of steaks, fries, salads, and a tasty local bread. We were in our tents by 10pm, and despite the potential for a late night visit from an elephant or lion, I was asleep by the time my head hit the mat.

Ingrid avoids the flash while Richard (UK, bearded) and Peter (Holland) manage OK

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Angel

Saturday 27th of December 2008

The flight must be a very good experience.

Angel

Saturday 27th of December 2008

The flight must be a very good experience.

Adam

Tuesday 23rd of December 2008

And I never knew you'd planned to get to Africa! A world away from meeting you on the umpteenth floor of a Hong Kong hostel on my second night in February; bizarre. :) I'm off again mid-next year I'm thinking! Keep going dude. :)

Dave

Friday 26th of December 2008

Hey Adam - happy holidays. Lots of adventures to be had in Africa. Glad to hear you'll be traveling again soon. Wish I had enough time to visit jolly ole' England!

Adam

Wednesday 24th of December 2008

And I never knew you'd planned to get to Africa! A world away from meeting you on the umpteenth floor of a Hong Kong hostel on my second night in February; bizarre. :) I'm off again mid-next year I'm thinking! Keep going dude. :)

Dave

Friday 26th of December 2008

Hey Adam - happy holidays. Lots of adventures to be had in Africa. Glad to hear you'll be traveling again soon. Wish I had enough time to visit jolly ole' England!

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