Flight Over the Delta

15 July

We wake at 0630 in order to pack up camp, and I’m still wondering whether there is another game walk, as I could have sworn during our briefing there was a mention of some activity in the morning. But we take all of our supplies directly to our beachfront and load up the makoros. We wait for Dixon and are soon off.

Along the way I chat with Dixon about his villages soccer team, The Big 5, and his family. He also tells us that the government has placed a plan on any new construction of wooden makoros. I expect him to take this opportunity to ask for some contribution or for a piece of soccer apparel, but he doesn’t. He’s been professional throughout and Alisa and I have developed an actual friendship with him, that is rare in on time in Africa. So often your guide makes you feel like they are just buttering you up in order for you to give them something. I’m not found of this type of ongoing paternalism and have made it a point not to leave anything behind or give anything away to the men we’ve encountered. Continue reading

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Journey into the Okavango Delta

July 13

I woke early again to shower, which was one of the worst decisions I have made in a long time. The air could not have been even at 0 degrees, and though I jaunted over to the shower rooms, and threw on the scalding water, I shivered and shivered throughout the entire time, getting even colder once I turned off the water and stood wet in the still freezing conditions. Alisa also slept poorly, so we weren’t in the best of moods this morning, but there was no time to commiserate as we had to take down our tents and get ready to pack the truck that was coming. As soon as it pulled on the sand in the lodge, I realized my luck was not getting any better as it was an open air truck with two long back to back benches running the length of the middle of the truck We pack all of our supplies, and help move all the food and kitchen equipment that is also going into the Delta underneath the seats, and then Alisa puts her big wool blanket on her lap and I break out my sleeping bag in order to give us some protection on this bitter morning. The trek out to the main road along the sand tracks wasn’t terrible, but once on the main road and cruising at 80km the wind and the cold were biting. The fact that this was a 90+ minute ride added no comfort and so I tried to sleep the ride away with Alisa and I bundled closely together. No one spoke the whole way, though the wind would have made that difficult, but it was obvious that everyone was trying to solider through. We stopped on the side of the road by a bakery for Jay to run in and get fresh loafs for our two days, and we drew the most peculiar looks from passersby. At first I thought this odd as this was the ‘Gateway to the Delta’ and locals must be used to seeing tourists and Westerners, but then I realized that we all probably looked a bit disheveled and perhaps a little migrant looking with all the blankets and apparel that we had put on to protect us from the cold. What a sight we must have been! Continue reading

The Road to Maun on Kumuka

July 12

Up at 5 am this morning in order to do the 600 kms to Maun, it was our first day of rising early after a night in the cold and getting straight to work of packing the truck and then tent. The tent was fairly easy to pack. Jay, our thin but build English truck driver, had given John and Christine and Alisa and I a good demo of how to set up and take down the tent. The hard part was getting the clips that held the tent to the frame when they were already tight to begin with, but with my hands already growing numb, I had to don gloves in order to not damage my fingers too badly. I had made the decision to shower that morning, but that proved inadvisable as Alisa was left to disassemble the tent herself, and we were the last packed and on board the bus. Continue reading

Kumuka: The Start of a Journey

July 11

We set the alarms for 5am so that we could be ready for our 0630 pick up in order to meet up with the overland truck at Shoestrings. The next casualty of the trip was my quick try towel that got left in the shower hut this morning as. We had bought donuts from afternoon before and munched on those while waiting to get picked up and then in the minibus while we rounded everyone up.

We arrived at Shoestrings where we packed the truck, and we saw John and Christine that we had met the night before. We were quickly on the bus and headed off to the border. The Kumuka bus was a bright blue overland truck with a front cab with a driver, and a massive compartment about three feet off the ground where there was a bunk in the back and then two sets of facing chairs and a table on either side and then two rows of four at the front. The chairs aren’t terribly comfortable, but there’s lots of space. Sarah, our Australian tour guide sat up in the front cab with Jay, our English driver, who gained his experience in the British armed forces driving military trucks. There was a telephone that connected the front cab with the passengers that was used for communication while we were moving. Our bags were packed in compartments lining the side of the truck with the kitchen supplies, food and cookery, on the other side. On the back side of the truck, the compartment held the tents and cooking gas. Alisa and I and John and Christine were the only people just starting a Kumuka tour. The rest were made up of two groups that had already been on the road. The group that came with the truck, a group of 4 or 5 had come all the way from Nairobi, and the other group 6 or 7 had come up from Johannesburg through Mozambique. Continue reading