A Travellerspoint blog

Into Zambia

Into Zambia

Crossed the border into Zambia this morning by the Kazalunga ferry across the Zambezi - the junction of 4 countries (Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe). The difference between Botswana and Zambia was telling, with the poverty and desparation of the local Zambians evident as soon as we crossed.

Trillionnaires

Picked up an assortment of Zimbabwean notes at the border, ranging from $1 billion, to $100 trillion (yes, thats $100 000 000 000 000).

Squalor

Stopped at a Zambian village to deliver some gifts that we had accumulated. The grateful hosts showed us around their village and the children (and some adults) gleefully accepted the toys, colouring books and pencils, and sweets/treats.

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The sheer power of it all

The heat, and Zambian (lack of) efficiency with currency exchange, had frustration boiling over and a need for an outlet. It was all put into perspective however when visited the famous Victoria Falls - and with the Zambezi flooded, we witnessed its sheer power in all its glory. The spray from the falls themselves are visible from miles around. The trail we took makes its way through the spray and only a short distance from the falls themselves, and the sight was absolutely spectacular. We left energised, but well and truly drenched!

Ngoma Zanga

Our last evening with the whole group had us hitting up the local African specialty restaurant, called Ngom Zanga. 'Hunters' all round, we celebrated with a buffet feast, but only after a starter of flying ants, fried worms and local small fish. Amarula shots rained, and Nicola read out a lovely poem summing up our trip, and our hosts including Dumile and 'Johnny boy' were toasted for a great trip.

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Posted by deepaksuma 12:47 Archived in Zambia Comments (0)

Chobe National Park

Elephant banks

Our first sleep in - and grateful for it! We hit the road in an open vehicle on our way to Chobe National Park (home to 85,000 elephants) - our first view of which would come by river, on a speedboat down the Chobe River. A fantastic 2 hours ensued, with the boat getting up close to hundreds of elephants, in at least 4 different herds. Young ones being bathed in mud, juveniles testing their strength on one another, others playing for us in the water by rolling around, or diving in using their trunks as snorkels. It was the best elephant viewing to date (as well as hippos and crocs - though we felt more safe than we were in the makoro at the Delta!), and a very memorable experience.

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Chobe Driving

We set off in our safari vehicles in search of the elusive lion or leopard. With 8 or so lions in a 36sq km area, chances were slim. Tracks were found, entertaining stories shared but no lions were found. We did have many more close encounters with elephants, impala, kudu, african buffalo, and babboons - our route impeded by the rising water flooding some of the safari trails. Nonetheless, we were proud to bear witness to a unique event for this region.

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Lion calls

Spent the night in Chobe with campfire stories from our safari guide, Louis - of hyenas dragging away people from campsites and lions mauling people in their tents. All went to bed nervous, with tightly closed tent zippers! Deepak awoke in the middle of the night to lion calls - and was scared witless. In the morning, we were assured it was simply the guy in the next tent who just snored extra loudly. Deepak still believes otherwise.

Posted by deepaksuma 12:46 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

Road to Kasane

Walk of Shame

Deepan's April Fools prank has come back to bite him in the ass, literally. Enough said.

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Bump and Grind

Today was a long driving day, making our way from Maun to Kasane in northern Botswana. One 150km stretch of road was more like the alps than any tarred highway - in fact, at one stage Dumile resorted to driving on the dirt alongside the road. Along the way, we saw this amazing sight..

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Horror

Nothing can prepare you for the horrific sight of an elephant that has fallen victim to poaching. We saw one such elephant, with the mammoth beast beheaded and lying by the side of the road, trunk astray, vultures circling above. The bus was silent for about an hour afterward, contemplating how anyone could do that to such a magnificent creature.

Breaking its banks

We arrived in Kasane with news that the Zambezi had flooded and broken its banks, and half our campsite was under water. Not like this could close business - we were hastily arranged a makeshift campsite and we bunkered down.

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Back to Maun

The big man's big day

Today was Innocent's birthday - and after leaving the Delta this morning, we made our way back to Maun. Showered and sorted, we celebrated in gusto. The beverage of choice for most was 'Hunters Dry' (local brand of cider), and in no time we had introduced our drinking games from home - aptly known as 'the seven game', and the 'f&*$ game' (I'll explain the rules next time we meet!). As the night progressed, a few Amarula shots were downed and we broke out several renditions of 'Churra Churra' in honour of our new friends at the Delta.

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Posted by deepaksuma 12:43 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

Okavango Delta - Day Two

Delta Force

Another 5am start (getting used to it on this trip) - in order to begin a 4 hour bush trek, on foot, at first light. Our guide Phillip leading and Charlie bring up the rear, we head off in single file. With yesterday's near miss on our minds, we head off and soon were being entertained by a herd of impala crossing in front of us, and another of elephants.
Soon, a tower of giraffe were joining in, and a troupe of baboons ably assisting by providing lookout from tree tops. It was one of those magical scenes of the African jungle - we were told about how these creatures rely on each other and their abilities/features (e.g. climb trees, hear/see better) to alert the others to danger. Similarly, each of them rely on birds who cry different 'alarm' signals when danger comes near. Ingenious!

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Okavango Delta Classic

Back at camp after an exhausting walk, we had a few hours to kill and so improvised by trying to hit a fallen fruit into a hole into the ground. Soon enough, the game evolved into a full blown putt-putt course, with various obstacles place (including the infamous 'minus one' archway), and rules devised. The evolution culminated in a 'boys vs girls' game, with scores aggregated over the teams. After a tense few hours, the girls prevailed in a tie breaker. We had the locals involved and into it, and they were seen practicing afterward - and thus, 'bushgolf' was introduced to the people of the Okavango Delta.

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Fresh water swim?

We were taken by our guides to the local swimming pool - an area scoped out prior to our arrival for hippos and crocodiles. In sweltering conditions, the swim in the cool, clean delta water was exactly what we needed. Luckily, we were careful not to have a swig of the water - by some reports, it tasted like elephant shit. Most of us managed to get onto a makoro to try paddling it - with varying degrees of success.

Hippo Danger!

Our most terrifying but satisfying experience to date. Our sunset ride on the mokoros to the local 'hippo pool' had us on the brink of death as we came across a family of hippos swimming cautiously in this expanse of water. They soon began to advance to ensure the safety of their young ones, and our poler guides thought it was hilarious to antagonise the hippos by calling out hippo noises and creeping closer. With our group getting more and more nervous - we stopped off at the far bank to view the sunset over a plastic mug of fine red wine. But after getting back into the mokoros to head back to camp, we were accompanied by a hippo escort - i.e they chased us away! The polers were making loud noises and slapping the water - needless to say, we freaking out being the last of the convoy of canoes! We made our escape, and soon were mesmerised by the most calming and mindblowing event.

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Elephant Crossing

Just as light was fading and we had made our escape from the hippos, two male elephants slowly and gracefully crossed the canal in front of us, side by side, in almost total silence. In a magnificent contrast to the frenzy that had just passed, the elephants made their way serenely and blissfully unnaffected by 8 or so canoes making their way down the canal. The event had a calming influence on the whole group, and was the moment of our Okavango Delta experience.

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Happy happy sing song

A great day was capped by an evening of singing and dancing with the locals around the camp fire. With rousing and fun renditions of local songs, dances, we took the opportunity to join in - with the 'churra churra' frog dance proving the most popular (and taking its toll on Suk's knees!).

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Posted by deepaksuma 12:42 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

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