“Let’s try Africa!”
“Africa? We can’t afford it!”
“Andy says we can!”
“But he does it for a living! He can afford it! Go on then have a look”
Andy was a professional wildlife photographer we had shared an elephant with & spent a few days together in India.
So here we now were in the Kalahari living with the San people for two days at the start of our 14 day camping adventure through Botswana, we are not really comfortable in hotels or lodges.
Our first two days were spent with the San Bushmen in the Kalahari. We were offered delicacies to eat, some wriggling! We were shown hunting & trapping techniques. Although now they are not allowed to hunt, “Why do the animals that were ours now belong to the government?” Robert, our interpreter translated for us.
They have no concept of government & their world is only as far as the horizon. With some sadness it was time to leave these people, we left with grass & rope bracelets gathered & made for us as we watched.
My “Safari hat” had been with me a number of years & was left as a gift along with hides & meat.
After restocking supplies in Maun we moved into the Okavango Delta to our first camp at Third Bridge site.
Our meal that night was interrupted by hyena!
We were finishing eating, when suddenly there was an almighty crash from the trailer. 2 meters away a hyena was snatching the leavings & rubbish bag, Douglas; our guide threw his chair at the beast as it loped off into the dark. An hour the following morning was spent clearing up the trail of scattered rubbish.
We continued our trip up through Moremi, Savuti into Chobe, missing every elephant on the way, it always amazes me how an elephant can hide behind the smallest of bushes.
At North Gate we had hippo grazing feet from our tent. Hyenas on the take, I still have clear in my mind watching them by lamp as they patiently wait their chance. Just a pity they have such a bad press!
We got stuck in swamp once, waited a couple of hours for another vehicle to come along.
Crossed a washed out road, water over the bonnet of the Land rover, thank God for snorkels! Would never had attempted it but there were two vehicles with winches on the far side.
Got stuck in a sand trap! We think the children from a near by village had dug it! They appeared from nowhere to push us out! Enterprising? Or what?
We lay in our tent listening to the zebra regrouping, about 0330 & set out at dawn we came across the pride in the early light, very eerie in the light & tall grass.
On our return to camp the tent was wrecked, baboons? But near by was a big bull elephant, totally unconcerned about us as we prepared breakfast. Douglas knew when to go or stay, he could read the bush, wild life & its mood. Every night we could hear the male lions patrolling their territory, Every 20 minutes, as they reached another boundary they would roar again.
At Chobe Douglas pulled in some favours & we had proper showers & beds. But after 10 nights in the bush we felt out of place with the Safari lodge clientele…..And…..No doubt we smelt a bit!
It was good to spend the next night camped out again.
This was our last night in the bush, camped on the banks of the flooded Chobe River we could hear drums drifting on the breeze & every now & then the sight of a fire on the far Zambian shore, a party we think was in full swing. It added a very thirties Hollywood atmosphere to the night.
We spent the next night at Nata lodge where if lucky bush babies come to be fed, we were lucky!
We had a trip to the Makgadikgadi Pans, highlighted by an Aardwolf sighting as it hunted at dusk.
A word of warning here, Kath, who is the mosquitoes favourite blood supply, forgot her cream with bare ankles & feet!!....Need I say more? Her story is that as we were now out of the bush she didn’t think she needed it!
Our thanks to Kirsty for great food. To Douglas for his skills & bush craft schooling, with out which we would never have contemplated or accomplished our self drive camping trip to Tanzania. And..Yup! I’m still an honorary South African who knows all the verses to Ag Pleez Deddy!
Our total for the trip was, six bottles of Morgan's, 25 species of mammal & 85 species of birds. 64 mosquito bites on one of Kath's ankles & foot, never bothered to count the other leg! We travelled in April 2004 & booked our trip through Heading South Safaris ,which has now ceased trading, Douglas I believe is still in SA, Kirsty is now in England. Our bushman experience we believe was a new venture.
All our trips are discussed & booked through the internet, we know what we want & find it better to deal direct so that we can say what we want & not have people guess what we want.