Friday, September 2, 2016

The Long, Long Drive to the Khwai Bedouin Camp

Today we were driving 450 km to the Khwai Bedouin Camp outside the Moremi Game Reserve. I was really looking forward to this as it was going to be our most "primitive" experience. Well, as primitive as it was getting on this safari.

We were up early, as usual, with no time for showers. It was also really cold in the mornings. You would get up, wash some body parts, and hop into your clothes. We were looking forward to a shower today having missed one yesterday.

We came upon these vultures who can consume 1-2 kg of meat in about 3 minutes.

And then this sight...it is Africa, right? This zebra was on the side of the road and had been eaten by the vultures. The vultures eat from the inside out. So they had taken everything out of this zebra leaving only the skeleton still covered with the skin.

We stopped at a service station to use the washrooms, which were lovely and clean. These bones were pretty fascinating. I was never exactly sure what they were. They all looked huge to me!


I'm guessing kudu on this one only because of the horns. And this is kind of where our day began to fall apart. The vehicle wouldn't start after our washroom break and it took about 20 minutes before one of the Kiwis made a suggestion that worked.

But by this time, we had missed our scheduled noon departure for our flight over the Okavango Delta. Our flight was now 1:00. So our arrival time of 3:00 or 4:00 at the Bedouin camp wasn't looking too good. Arriving at the Maun airport...

And heading over to Delta Air...

We were going up in a small (really small!) plane to get a view of the delta...

This was our pilot, who was about as friendly as...an elephant. We were just another flight for him. I said "It's a beautiful day for flying." He said "Not really. It's windy and it's going to be bumpy." How to put your passengers at ease. Jim figured the plane was about 50 years old.

And I ended up in the front seat beside the pilot. Please don't let me hit any buttons by mistake.

And we were off...

The amazing thing about the Okavango Delta is that all the water from several rivers flows into the delta and evaporates or sinks into the sand and disappears. It is supposed to be the largest inland delta in the world and is created from seasonal flooding which peaks in July and August. All the water then disappears through evaporation or transpiration. It is considered one of Africa's Seven Natural Wonders.

The challenge was spotting animals, then getting your camera/phone, finding them in the viewer and trying to take a photo, all while bouncing up and down. Elephants in the watering hole...

More teeny, tiny animals...I think I was calling everything elephants. They could have been hippos.

Definitely elephants...

The Delta covers about 15,000 square km...

Elephants can travel up to 50 miles in a day to get to a water source...

Everything is pretty dry and brown right now...

So I googled what it would look like during the rainy season. Not a great photo, but you get the idea. Totally different landscape...

More elephants...


I think this is a pod of hippos...or should I say a pile of hippos?

Some green spots...


And it was time to head back...you can see some African villages in the foreground.

Pretty tight quarters...Jim, with no camera, had the best seat in the house!

Coming in for a landing...

We landed quite nicely and then a gust of wind blew us sideways and I closed my eyes. Safe!


Our schedule got thrown off further when Ed forgot his hat on the plane and we had to wait while someone drove out to the plane to retrieve it. Hat in hand, we were off again.

Sue, one of the Kiwis, had opted out of the plane ride, so she and Manuel had gone to buy some fixings for our lunch. By the time we got to our lunch spot, it was ready and waiting for us. I think it was about 2:30 by now.

Oh my...this sweet cat, who appeared to be quite used to humans, came over when I called him. We were having tuna salad and I might have snuck him a bit. He didn't appear to mind a little mayo with his tuna.

Here we also met our new local guide, Chief. I immediately liked him when he gave the cat a little piece of banana. A kind man!

We were hungry! Breakfast had been a long time ago.

Manuel and Mbusi then had to take all the luggage out of our road bus...

And put it in the little trailer towed by our new open air vehicle. We were ready to go, right? Not so fast...the trailer had a soft tire and we had to go back to the closest town to get some air. But the first garage we stopped at didn't have any air, so it was off to another garage about 15 minutes away.

Finally, we were on our way around 4:00 pm. It was a three hour drive to the camp, so we would definitely be arriving after dark. We saw these beautiful hangings, but there was no time for shopping.

It was looking like fall here as well...

Always on the lookout for animals...a herd of goats. Trivia question...what do you call a herd of goats? A tribe.

This sign became a bit ironic...we had noooo idea what was to come!

This...miles and miles of sand.

Donkeys...

Look at how dirt-choked the trees are...

This was Chief's view. Sometimes we drove on this side of the road, and sometimes we moved to the other side.

And when a vehicle passed you, you ate some dust. This was a light dusting compared to some.

Botswana has 2 million people and 5 million cows.

When it wasn't deep sand, the road was like a washboard. We were bounced and jiggled and thrown all over. At one point, Manuel said "Only 90 minutes to go." There was no point in crying, so we started to laugh. We were so tired at this point.

We were getting closer now. Civilization! Kids were playing in the background...

We saw a lot of these tuck shops, but it was hard to tell if they were actually in use or not.

The kids would always wave. Love them. Although many of the kids have homes with no electricity or running water, they are very happy. Some of them might walk 10 km to school.

Once the sun begins to set, it sets quickly. We arrived at the camp in the dark, quite disoriented and very tired. We sat and were given a brief orientation before being escorted to our tents. No walking on your own here after dark. Dinner was at 7:30 and someone came back to get us and escort us to the dining tent. There is no electricity and each tent had a couple of solar lights. There was a charging station in the dining tent where everyone was charging phones and camera batteries. No showering allowed in the morning or the evening--only during the day. So Day 2 went by without a shower and we were still alive and well. That showering...high overrated!

Tomorrow we're looking forward to actually seeing our surroundings.

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