Stories

 

Botswana


From the 8th to the 13th of June, 2016

After an early morning ferry border crossing, we stocked up on food, water, extra fuel and started our journey across the sandy and remote Chobe National park.

    

The officers of the Kachikau police station were kind enough to let us camp in their parking lot in order for us to be closer to the national park gate the next morning. At sunrise, we hit the sandy track crossing the national park, driving with the beautiful morning light. Unfortunately, starting just before sunrise was already too late for reaching the game rich area around the camp of Savuti at the predator's hunting time. There were no lions or leopards to be seen. Even though we saw plenty of wildebeest, giraffes, shy elephants, waterbucks, impalas, warthogs and mongoose, at the end we had the feeling it was lots of driving for little rewards.

After exiting the national park, we were surprised to see a leopard crossing the road and amazed by a group of about twenty elephants drinking at a waterhole, also home to some hippos. Too late to reach any campsite, we spent the night in the bush near that waterhole. In the night, we could hear the elephants chewing up a tree right behind the van while some jackals were wandering around earlier in the night. No need to mention that we did not step out of the car, neither in the evening, nor in the morning. Even though we didn't see any, lion are apparently everywhere.

    

If we hardly met any tourist on our journey through Eastern Africa until Zambia, as soon as we crossed the river into Botswana, we couldn't believe our eyes when the supermarket parking lot was crowded by rented 4x4 campers usually easily recognizable by their roof tents. It seems like Botswana is the northern limit for the tourist renting vehicles in South Africa or Namibia. The most adventurous would leave the car at the border, cross into Zambia with a tour company for a day trip to Victoria Falls and come back. Even though we didn't have the feeling of being the only tourists in Africa anymore, we were still meeting very few overlanders traveling with their own vehicles.

A few years ago, when watching a documentary about the sardine migration in South Africa, I knew that one day I would need to see that with my own eyes. In the winter time, the sardines follow the cold current up the eastern coast of South Africa, attracting predators like dolphins, whales, sharks, gannets, sailfish AND fishermen... But over the last few years, it seems like the quantity of sardine shrank, possibly due to overfishing or global warming. Anyhow, being in Southern Africa, with the sardine season about to start, I was desperate to get there. Unfortunately I was soon discouraged by the prices I found online. On the 3rd of June early morning, when I was in Zambia, I found an ad of a TV production company called "Divers needed for the Sardine Run", deadline for application 1st of June. Having nothing to lose, I sent out an email before hitting the road. Two days later, when reaching a town again and therefore having internet, I found out that the producer had replied to me 15 minutes after I sent the email, asking me to fill a form by noon the same day. Late again, I sent the form back but I was too late. The casting selection was already done. I crossed my fingers for a last minute cancellation. A few days later, when I was in Botswana and about to be out of network again for a few days, I was requested to send out a video about why I wanted to participate. Sending a video on 2G mobile data? I spent the morning looking at the upload percentage slowly increasing, starting at zero again, increasing, cutting, but luckily it finally went through! Two days later, I had the confirmation: I would be part of the trip starting less than a week later!

    

From Maun, we dropped the idea of spending more time tracking the big 5 around the Okawango Delta and started our long drive across the Kalahari desert. I flew out from Windhoek airport in Namibia. While I was having fun, Raphael spent the first week looking for spare parts and servicing the van.

As Botswana is more geared towards upper class tourism and therefore a bit expensive to our liking, we kind of rushed through the country in order to reach Namibia, a country we were looking forward to discover.

Click here to read the following story about our journey through Namibia.

Album "Botswana - June 2016"