Yet again a journey made for one of my more interesting experiences. We had decided to leave early for Botswana because it is a bit of a trek and we had been warned that transport in Botswana can be slow/difficult. We got a taxi to the border and then crossed, what is apparently the shortest international border in the world (about 750M) by ferry. We then arrived in Botswana and entered the country without major incident. We then got in a taxi to Kasane where we could get a bus to Nata before getting another bus to Maun. It was only upon arriving in Kasane (at what I would call a reasonably hour of 8.30ish) that we were informed that we had missed all the busses that day. So transport in Botswana id not slow/difficult - it does not exist (on a Sunday at least). So we tried all we could but ended getting a taxi to take us to the next town where we might get a bus. The taxi actually took us back to the border (and charged us twice as much as the first taxi) and told us this was our best bet for getting a lift. To be fair they were right and within 15mins all seven of us were sitting in the back of a pickup truck. The journey was relatively comfortable (again as I have said many times - all things are relative and my scale of comfort has changed dramatically since leaving home). The greatest problem was that we were exposed to the Botswanan sun, in the middle of the day with no shelter for over 3 hours and travelling at 120km/hr the breeze (strong wind) fooled us into thinking we weren't getting burnt. All 7 of us "caught the sun" to some degree! So after about 3 hours in the back of the truck we reached Nata. When I asked in the shop about a bus to Maun I was told it had gone but they were expecting another in about 3 hours. So for a couple of hours we made attempts to hitch with no luck and then we just settled on getting the bus (if it showed up). It did show up and within an hour of getting on all seven of us had even managed to get a seat. So we made it to Maun.
The next day, Monday, we were heading for a 3 day Mokoro (dugout canoe) trip into the Okavango delta. So first we needed supplies - food - check, now for booze. What do you mean I can't buy booze at 9am on a Monday morning?! So after a few stops I emerged from a closed off license with 10L of red wine - which I knew must be good as it was described as drinkable on the box!
We then headed for the delta, taking a speed boat to where we got our Mekoro (plural of Mokoro - not a typo). The mokoro is a tradional dugout canoe, it is powered by a person standing at the back and they propel the canoe using a big stick (not unlike a gondola in Venice - although I've never actually been). A trip to the delta is not really about animals (there is a national park further into the delta), it's more about the delta itself and the real camping experience! The first day we reached our campsite , set up camp and went for an enjoyable short walk. We cooked dinner (pasta and sauce with sausages) on the open fire and had some red wine and a cigar (very sophisticated). On the second morning we got up really early (5.30) for a long (16km) walk. We had to have the walks early because it was so hot in the middle of the day, there is no way we could have gone for a walk then. The walks were quite enjoyable - we walked in silence to avoid frightening off any animals so this allowed for some quiet contemplation. We actually saw a lot of animals on the walk (elephant, zebras, various antelope, warthogs, wildebeest, hippos and a couple of fish eagles). We then returned to the camp and went for a nap followed by a swim in the swamp, sorry delta! In the evening we went for a sunset cruise in the Mekoro - which was more of a thunder storm cruise - it was actually really cool to watch the dramatic sky as we glided along the water in the delta. That night we had hotdogs cooked in the open fire with baked potatoes, more wine and we made smores (I've only ever heard of smores on TV - it is a biscuit sandwich with chocolate and a melted marshmallow in between). The next day we got up early for a short walk (which felt remarkably like the long walk) and then with only some time for lunch and another swim we headed back to Maun. I really enjoyed my time in the delta, it was the perfect mix of beautiful and fantastic scenery, fun times with the group, animals and quiet contemplation!
The next day I stayed in Maun because I could not face another early start and long bus journey. It was a sad day as it marked the end of our group travelling together. 4 of them were headed to Namibia, 2 back to Jo'burg which left me on my own again. It was a strange feeling after travelling with a group for well over 3 weeks! It felt like the end of my Africa trip and it is drawing close but there are a few days left with some more things to see, lots more land to cover and a border to cross so there is the making of a few more stories.