Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Help! I am in a group

Botswana is hard to travel through without a car and every activity is expensive. I find an overland tour that takes me to the places I want to see and seems a bit less expensive than doing it by myself. I am a bit nervous about it, as I am very used to travel by myself and at times let myself be taken to places by locals, while here I will be stuck in a group for eleven days. It might however be nice not to have to arrange everything and I might meet some cool people. Unfortunately all my worries come more than true. The group consists mainly of Australians (and kiwi's) who have come mostly in two's and click together- at times I feel like I am in highschool again, but not in a good sense-. They have no interest in me and barely evoke any interest from me, with hardly any chances to talk to locals. We have to put up (and down) our tent every day and the big drop in temperature, for which I am not prepared (so so cold!!) means that I feel unwell from day two onwards, but hardly anybody seems to care. In short: I am not quite myself and from day one I am counting down towards the end of this part of the trip.

We visit the Chobe National Park, where we drive around in jeeps, trying to spot the wildlife (game drive) and I see giraffes, elephants, zebra's... Actually more enjoyable than that is a boat tour we take early evening, from which you can see buffalo's, hippo's and other animals feed themselves on the waterfront. This lies at a meeting point of Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe and they have fought each other for it, as it is such an attractive tourist destination.

The highpoint of Botswana is the Okavango Delta, wetlands with a lot of wildlife. We are transported in mokoro's, canoe type of boats in which you sit with a second person and a so called 'poler' moves the boat forward by standing in the back and pushing a pole through the water. It is pleasant and beautiful, we camp on an island and in the evening the polers come together and sing traditional songs and dance humorously to it. This is the highpoint, as we don't see that many animals on our three hours hike through the dry savannah, but we admire the hippo's from the water. I spend a significant amount of time talking to Dreamer, one of the polers (both here and in Zimbabwe names as Always, Rejoice, Comfort seem to be the norm).                                                                               It is amazing how we have brought our tents, our own food and have each paid a whopping $160, but the polers still have to live of tips and use their own boats. Dreamer tells me about his life. He had a girlfriend with whom he had a baby, but the baby died after five months. I tell him that we have few baby deaths and it is very tragic. He says it was sad, but that it happens to others as well, so that made it easier. His girlfriend also suddenly died, leaving him with another child, that is now being raised by his mother and one of his sisters. He has never been to school, but his daughter does go to school and if she does well on her exam when she turns twelve, she will probably go to secondary school.

We then carry the trip on to South Africa, where we make a few panoramic stops (but it is incredibly misty) to then arrive at the famous Kruger park. We engage in a full day safari, spotting four out of the so called big five (lions, rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo - we miss out on the leopard, but we also see impalas, hyenas, zebras, wildebeests, kudus, baboons....). I enjoy this, but with an old crappy camera, my pictures are quite disappointing, but well, life should not be lived through a lense!

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