It was at the Botswana border post itself, whilst waiting for about an hour for the State Vet to finish his lunch in 40 C plus, that it came home to us that even though life was going to be good, there would be some trying times.
Immediately we felt far safer than we did in South Africa mainly owing to the excellent police force that has a zero tolerance on crime.
We quickly needed to learn and live the Botswana way and we were amazed how friendly, caring and welcoming the local community was, making our adaptation far easier and enjoyable over the year.
We were pleasantly pleased that we could get everything we needed and most of what we would like up here. A shipment of fresh asparagus, pickled herring and Sue’s cigarettes would be great.
February – April: It didn’t take to get stuck into the garden, which was non-existent. Of course we put in a pond and built a deck with a braai. We developed a vegetable garden that was attacked by chickens and insects alike and living in a desert we needed compost, which was kindly donated by cows.
Orapa Game Reserve, just 30km away, has been amazing throughout the year and we have spent many a day there enjoying the animals, birds and its environment. Our last two visits just sitting for hours at a waterhole with a bottle of wine was just great. We have also taken local kids there to help educate them in conservation.
Looking back over the year there have been numerous highlights which I am going to briefly describe in rough chronological order.
- December: Our first visit to Kubu Island was mind blowing. We didn’t know what to expect and this mystical place standing out in the middle of nothingness was amazingly beautiful. Then later in the year spending a night there at full moon was an experience.
- February: Sue surprising me for my birthday, by organizing my daughter to get up here from Johannesburg.
- February: Being privileged enough to be invited by the President’s office to the release of the rhino into Orapa Game Reserve.
- April: During a visit by Sue’s sister she treated us to a flight over the Okavango Delta. The beauty and the quantity of game was incredible, herds of elephants and buffalo, giraffe, hippo, crocs – just a stunning experience that is a must do. On a second flight, during our holiday, we managed to see a rhino as well.
- July: Our whole Botswana/Caprivi holiday with our children (Tristan and Cailin) and good friends Brian and Anne, but especially:
- Seeing wildlife on the side of the main roads
- Kasane, where animals just walk into town (and Tristan catching his first HUGE Tiger Fish)
- The evening boat trip on the Chobe River, in Chobe National Park
- Shakawe on the Okavango River, where the bird life was just amazing (Pel’s Fishing Owl) and Anne catching her first tiger fish
- The Boteti River, well this has been an experience right through the year, with 3 dedicated trips to different parts of it. We physically went in search of it, driving through the most arid land you can imagine and suddenly seeing water and in the case of Lake Xua a massive expanse.
- October: Elephant Sands Lodge, where there was just this continuous flow of elephants of all sizes, their interactions and having elephants walking less than 4 m from our tent. Not forgetting the pack of wild dogs.
Life just doesn’t allow one to have such a wonderful time without throwing some curved balls at you. But chatting with Sue about this, there are really only 3 that we can think of:
- The stress and problems of getting our permits for Botswana, thank goodness this is over for a while, Sue for 3 years and 5 years for me.
- The inconsistent water and electricity supply. Not having water for 3 days is not fun.
- Now that we do have a ADSL internet connection (well 90% of the time) I don’t know how I managed on 3G for 7 months.
So its just point 2 that is still ongoing, but a small price to pay for everything else Botswana has offered us.