Travel Through Botswana on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

Botswana on a Harley (12/10/00 - 21/10/00)
Distance 1628 km (202640 km to 204268 km)

This is part of the seventh section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from  Zimbabwe or read our previous visit to Botswana
 

12/10/00 An easy border crossing where we needed to pay $US 2.00 for insurance. Botswana has a zero corruption tolerance, and it is advertised, and seems to be adhered to. Probably now overtaking all other Southern African countries, including South Africa in this regard. The facilities here are far ahead of other countries in the region. The upmarket lodges usually have camping facilities where the less well heeled can still use the pool and bar areas. Our waterfront camp at the edge of Chobe National Park allowed viewing of Sedudu Island, a disputed piece of land with Namibia but teeming with animals this time of year, the dry. Elephants, hippo, buffalo and an assortment of antelope all sighted at a distance.

13/10/00 A package game drive in the morning and boat cruise game float in the evening. The dusty bumpy 4x4 morning ride paled compared to the sedate leisurely float past animals grazing and drinking from atop the two storied raft. An over abundance of elephant, hippo and buffalo seen up closer than possible from a 4x4. Elephants wading back from a days grazing on the island to overnight in the now denuded woodlands. With over 85,000 elephants in Botswana a serious overgrazing occurs at certain times of the year in some places. Like here at the end of the dry. But unlike in Kruger Park where elephants are managed (culled) here they are allowed to create or destroy their own environment as they obviously have for thousands of years.Wart Hog comfortable with tourists at the camp groung Without man introducing extra water holes there will always be pockets of untouched areas to regenerate after times of overgrazing. Even the crocodiles live naturally, having taken three people from this resort, one only last February.

14/10/00 South to Nata 300 km, sighting some 4 groups of elephants grazing near the road well outside any national park and seeing a herd of 25 sable antelope, apparently quite rare. Still hot.

15/10/00 320 km to Maun where road kills were feeding the jackals and vultures. Maun is the town supporting lodges and tourists starting their trip into the Okavengo Delta. That enormous flooded area where rivers flow to dry up in a maze of channels between islands. Like any support town the expat community is strong and on Sundays here a portion meet at the River Lodge for a game of golf, beer and a feed. The golf course, nine holes, has no grass or greens, the holes are tin trays as the sand would collapse traditional ones. A party of four uses four clubs shared and many balls are lost inTourists and elephants in Chobe National Park the two river crossings. Due to the low numbers of players most holes criss-cross each other and all sand divots are not replaced.

16/10/00 The hot dry wind still blows constantly waiting for the wet season at the end of this month. It is hard to drink enough water to need to urinate. We opted not to take a mokoro (dug out canoe) into the Delta even though it is "the thing to do". The high price combined with our past enjoyable similar experiences the decider. Usually three days in the Delta being poled around the narrow canals by a local tribes person, camping in the wilderness and doing game walks sounds inviting. But the mosquito ridden hot weather sitting without shade, washing or showering and paying $US 90.00 per day each isn't in the brochures. Reports of people paying $US 275.00 for a bush camp plus fly-in costs are not unheard of and people arriving and demanding to fly out straight away because of the high price for no facilities. Such is the place at the moment sufferingThe overpopulation of elephants stripped the trees in the background from its own popularity. We chose to fly over the Delta instead, one hour, a small five seater heading towards sunset. The low flying made spotting the smaller antelope easy and of course the large herds of buffalo and elephant grazing really stood out. Even a pride of lion sun baking.

17/10/00 It's not often in Africa, or anywhere, where there are reasonable facilities for campers plus the use of the adjoining hotel pool and bar for a dollar a night each. We broke the heat by a two hour coffee at air conditioned Steers and sitting by the pool an Sedia Hotel in Maun.

18/10/00 5.30 am departure and 420 km to Popa Falls, just over the border into Namibia's Caprivi Strip. By 9.00 am it was 32 degrees and on arrival at 12.00 noon 37 degrees and rising. The last 25 km dirt, well sandy dirt, what seems to be the whole of Botswana and most of Namibia. The bright white shadelessness hiding the deeper patches of the sandy dust givingHippo grazing during the daytime no warning to a floating front or rear wheel. A slow section to finish.

19/10/00 Popa Falls, a green haven in a dry woodlands. A normally busy place, now empty because the Angolan rebel forces regularly make incursions into the area to steal cattle and people. The armed convoy leaves Divundu at 9.00 am and after an early morning oil change for the motorcycle, us, four trucks and twenty other cars escorted by three army jeeps left for Kongola 200 km east. The area was also well patrolled by foot soldiers, with them and their camps at regular intervals. Three French tourists were murdered in the area earlier this year bringing tourism to a halt. The hundreds of overland trucks ferrying the "adventurous tourists" from Cape Town to Harare via Victoria Falls now go through Botswana. The Caprivi is now so well guarded it is probably one of the safest places in Africa. We crossed back into Botswana and rode the transit route across the top of Chobe National Park, seeing sable antelope, elephant and zebra along the way.Okavengo Delta from the air

20/10/00 Some animals adapt well to living in mans environment. Our camp has wart hog wandering through grazing any green grass, vervet monkeys raid any food left lying about and sift through the garbage cans for vegetable scraps. Troupes of banded mongoose regularly patrol the area in a final sieve and water monitors sunbake. Some animals hang around simply to be away from predators.
 

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