After weeks of solitude driving through the more remote parts of Eastern Namibia, being in a happening spot is restorative. Northern Botswana is teeming with travelers and such an easy place to explore. We tested out a few camp sites in Maun before landing at the Old Bridge Backpackers, a lovely haunt right on the edge of the delta. Our first night we met 4 young Israelis who were driving a VW Bus - that is older than they were - from Capetown to Israel. I hope our paths cross again, they were so darling. The next night two 23 year old French business students, Martin and Giam, pulled in in a 1984 Renault mini wagon that they had driven down from Leone France! After our smiles subsided we got their story about driving through western Africa (the hard way down) in what Glenn deemed the most inappropriate overland vehicle yet. They plan on submitting their travelogue on ‘the business of adventure’ to their Uni when they return home. The day we met they were strategizing about their call home to their parents: with 1,000 miles to go they were out of money, out of food and the 24 year old Renault was in bad need of repairs. If you’re interested in their journey you can find them at afrikatrip.com.
During our week stay at the Old Bridge Backpacker we met tons of great travelers. We teamed up with Stan and Lyn, an Australian/French couple here on their honeymoon, and together we rented a small plane; the views of the delta from the air are spectacular. We spent three days paddling around the delta in small plastic kayaks, explored the bushveld on foot and learned the town from top to bottom. Upon our checkout the receptionist who had rented us the kayaks asked if we had encountered any hippos or crocks on our boating adventures. No. Why Glenn asked. Well, a couple of people had reported crock attacks. The crocodiles actually swam up and chomped on their boats. After a short discussion Glenn told her that information like that is best kept quiet until after the boats have been returned. And of course, he couldn’t WAIT to tell me all about it. I would have come unglued had that happened to my boat. SCARY!
With our American medical student, Sankulpo, in tow, we headed NW to the sacred mountains of Tsodilo. I am getting ahead of myself, but Sankulpo is a med student studying under an American Doctor friend of ours (from Hood River) who happens to be living in Botswana, who we happened to call one day while he and Sankulpo were flying back from a rural clinic somewhere in Botswana…Sankulpo happened to sit down next to me at a bar one night. I know, small world, long story.
Anyway, Glenn, Sankulpo and I spent a couple of days hiking what the locals call the Louvre of the Desert, an incredible upwelling of mountains in an otherwise flat semi-arid desert landscape. It is called the Louvre because there are around 4,000 rock paintings spread over a relatively small area consisting of mountains named: Male, Female, Ex-wife and child one and child two. Tsodilo has been home to many groups of indigenous peoples for several thousand years, at one point, it was part of the delta, but today water is scarce and the landscape parched.
From Tsodilo we drove south the small town of Ghanze. From here we begin our expedition through the Central Kalahari Desert. We are driving northeast toward the Makgadigadi Pans, through eastern Bots then into Zimbabwe where the exchange rate can fluctuate between 1:250 – 1:250,000 is one week! Looks like we might have to make a few preparations for this country, but both of us are very interested in seeing the effects of a leader like Mugabe. Just imagine being a billionaire with 4,000.00 in your pocket.
Thank you so much for sharing in our adventures.
Happy travels...wherever you go,
You can see more photos from our flight over the Okavango here: http://picasaweb.google.com/Corrincphillips/FlyingTheDelta#
You can see more photos from our hike around Tsodilo here: