… counterclockwise …
I’m home again!
On June 5th I got on the plane in Johannesburg and drove via London and Frankfurt in the most direct way possible to Hamburg. Jana!
I could still tell a lot about the things that I saw on the way, that I learned about myself, the way of traveling. About what I would advise others to do if asked. But maybe I’ll just leave that to the others. I mean to ask myself.
It was a really unique and incredible experience that I was allowed to have there. And it was an experience that I can probably tell you about for a long time.
Or to put it in Dirk’s fairly fitting words:
“There’s only one thing left to say – cool action, dude!”
On my own behalf
Finally, I have a request to readers. I wrote the blog for a few people that I thought would like to know where I am and what I’m experiencing. Over time, I’ve heard of more and more people reading all my writing.
Are you doing me a favor? I would be interested to know who actually read along.
If you click on the heading ("End!") You will come to a page where there is the possibility to leave a comment at the bottom (enter it under "Leave a Reply" in the text field and then click on "Post Comment").
I would be delighted if you only left me your (first) name (and if I don’t know you – a key word who you are).
And thank you for your interest!
After I had to leave the leopard woman with a heavy heart in the Moremi Reserve, I went back to South Africa with a few stops. On May 28th we crossed the border. Shortly before, I let myself be flashed again and picked up a Botswana ticket.
However, I could not pay it directly to the officials, but they said that I should go to the guard in the city and pay there. After I had made it credibly clear to the two that I had only found the road out of the city with just three questions and would have my problems finding the police station now, one of them said at the border crossing that I was taking there was a police station and I could pay there. So I went further and looked for the border. I also got lost a few more times. Fortunately, I was traveling in such small villages that at least no one spoke English anymore. But there are still hands and feet. Somehow it was made clear to me that I should have turned right at the last intersection. After I finally found the border, I wanted to at least pay my national debt. Not that there will be an international arrest warrant in my name on my next visit in a few years.
Well – just stupid that of course there wasn’t a single police officer there. The border official just shrugged and grinned when I explained my problem to her. "Expect them to be waiting for you when you come next time" (expect them to be waiting for you when you come next time) … So over the border without paying.
After I was out of Botswana, a bit of no man’s land came again and then the South African border. The no man’s land was about as wide as a river – about 10 meters. Exactly the width of the river I had to go through. Not again! A little tense, I steered the car back into the water. Before they had said that I should go through the river in an arc. NO! – That seemed familiar to me somehow …
Fortunately, this time it worked without any problems and I was back in South Africa – the last country of the whole trip.
First, a visit to Mapungubwe National Park was on the list. It was so unspectacular that I simply leave it out here. Then it went to the Krugerpark on May 30th.
In my view, it was almost a kind of re-socialization training. The largest of the South African national parks is mass tourism. On one or two of the campsites, I really had to look for a free parking space – and it’s still low season. A few times when there was something special to see (e.g. the lion mom with her cub), there were so many cars on the street that there was a traffic jam.
Unfortunately, these opportunities were rather rare. The Kruger Park is overgrown with trees and bushes at least so densely that it is relatively difficult to observe the animals. Even elephants disappear from sight as soon as they are a few meters away from the street.
But if you spend a whole week there, you still get a few opportunities for observations or nice photos.
And that I had already seen pretty much everything from the animal world and, even after thinking about it for a long time, I couldn’t think of anything that I really wanted to see, I was relatively relaxed and was just happy about what was on offer.
For example, unlike the other parks, there were quite a few baboons. At one point I was probably in the car for 10 minutes and a horde of monkeys crossed the road in front of me. Always more and more. And every time I thought it was now, more came out of the bushes. After that I sang the children’s song all the time about the monkeys racing through the forest.
In addition, I had the impression in some animals, especially in the case of elephants, that there were clearly larger specimens than I had seen before. The elephants always presented themselves pretty well in the Kruger Park. Once or twice I almost drove through the middle of a herd and had to wait until they passed behind, in front of and next to me. And you get a little bit nervous when you think that the long-nosed beasts are strong enough to easily knock over a car when they feel threatened.
Otherwise I learned that crocodiles don’t seem to do much other than lounging in the sun, oh hippos start small and birds like to strut or drive a taxi.
Hippos also start small
On the penultimate day I was lucky enough to see cheetahs, which I had only seen in the breeding station in Namibia, in the wild. They were pretty much hidden in the undergrowth, and even when another driver showed me where they were, it took me a minute to really see them. I have no idea who and how they managed to find them at all.
Cheetahs in the wild
Overall, the Krugerpark was okay as a conclusion, but it is not a park where I would say I have to go there again. And for anyone who has not yet been to southern Africa, I would advise Kgalagadi Park or Etosha rather than Kruger Park.
In the evening in the Krugerpark
Yes, I fell in love. A woman I met on a game drive and who was so beautiful that I just had to look at her for almost an hour. And before someone calls my friend to tell her – Jana already knows.
But from the beginning …
After the Mokoro trip there was an excursion further north to the Okavango Delta. In the Moremi Game Reserve, a national park in western Botswana. I stayed at the Mankwe Bush Lodge on a completely secluded, unfenced campsite, which was covered with elephant tracks when I arrived. Fortunately, they didn’t visit me at night …
On Friday, May 24th My guide and his apprentice picked me up at the tent at six in the morning (to be honest, I slept in the car out of caution against the elephants). Once again I was the only participant, which was really an advantage in this case. So I never had to be annoyed that someone else was in front of the camera and Clifford, the guide, always asked me before he went on.
Vultures are scavengers
So far – and also afterwards – I have done all game drives myself. But since I had read that the wilderness in the Moremi Reserve can be partially flooded and that you may have to drive through water, I didn’t want to take the risk. And after I had already had the experience of sinking into the water, my decision to go on a guided tour seemed doubly wise. In the end there was no water worth mentioning that we should have crossed, but it was also very pleasant not to have to drive ourselves, just to be able to look.
Nile crocodile sunbathing
Which was particularly good, since we were actually on the road for 15 hours in total. And in the 15 hours we actually didn’t see that many animals at all. African wild dogs were a relatively rare sight. The dogs, which are among the most endangered animals in Africa, are slim and of four colors. The large, round ears are striking and a little funny looking. They mostly live in groups and always hunt as a pack.
The martial eagle, which has cooled its foot in a water hole, is not really frequent and, above all, is impressively large.
At one point we drove along a water hole in which some hippos bathed. Suddenly a pretty fat specimen breaks out of the bushes to our right and sprints into the water with a big splash. It had obviously been under the bushes and was startled by us. And of course it couldn’t be left alone. When we were watching by the waterhole, it tried to chase the car off a few times. It snorted, suddenly tipped its head towards us and, above all, presented its impressive teeth
After taking this picture, I was already satisfied for the day.
Evening mood in the Moremi Game Reserve
But when evening came and we were already on the way back to the gate, I did she seen. she ran away from a man right in front of our car across the slopes and took refuge in a tree. The guy is still behind, but was too heavy to follow her into the thin branches in the tree top. After a few minutes he pulled out and I got she first seen correctly – and was in love.
In front of us two leopards sprinted across the path and climbed the tree. And after the male was gone, the female made herself comfortable up there. Right above our car. I have never seen leopards before – and if there was one at the zoo, I don’t remember. And I was blown away. I didn’t realize how incredibly elegant these cats are before. The slender cheetahs are anorectic. Lions are just clumsy.
Leopards are fairly rare and are especially active at night. So it was almost fate that we saw her. And they’re damn strong. The predators’ prey includes everything they can kill. To protect their catch from scavengers and other big cats, they carry e.g. Antelopes effortlessly on a tree, where they then eat them.
Cats watch everything
The new lady in my heart was far from hunting or eating. She watched the surroundings, but was otherwise quite relaxed and soon started licking her paws and settling down on the tree.
We stood under the tree for almost an hour and the guide Clifford seemed to be as excited as I was. In the end, we were even three quarters of an hour late at the gate and had to invent a wild story of a boat trip where the engine failed, which is why we are now too late. Otherwise we would have had to pay a fine. But honestly, who can resist these eyes?
The day was definitely worth it.
Big catCats watch everything RelaxedElegance
Red Lychee African Wild DogThese eyes … evening mood in the Moremi Game Reserve
Nile crocodile at the Sun Vulture are scavengers and eagles threatening
Whenever I saw pictures of Africa from the Okavango Delta before, I thought I would go there! There were exactly two destinations throughout the trip that were on my must-do-again list. One was Vietnam – and it was really as beautiful as I always thought. The other was the Okavango Delta. What can I say – this is really as nice as I imagined.
On Sunday, May 19, I arrived at the Audi camp with what I felt was still a wet car. Don’t ask me where the name comes from. In any case, it has nothing to do with the Ingolstadt car manufacturer. After a night in the simple but very nice camp, we started around half past eight in the morning of the 20th. I was traveling with a Swedish / American couple with their grandson. First we had to drive a jeep to the Mokoro jetty for two hours. Because that was the trip I had booked: 2 nights and 3 days with the Mokoro, the traditional dugout of the local population, through the Okavango Delta. After the trailer coupling had broken off on a not very stable wooden bridge and we had to wait an hour for a replacement vehicle, we arrived a little late. The "landing stage" was nothing more than a piece of meadow on which almost a dozen of the long, narrow boats lay.
Traditionally, the mokoros are made from the wood of a particular tree (unfortunately, I forgot from wherein). However, since they are made from one piece, an entire tree must always be felled for a single boat. The government is now encouraging residents of the delta to use Mokoros from Fieberglaas. Not quite as traditional, but more durable and gentle on trees.
The dugout canoe is pushed forward with a long stick, similar to the gondolas in Venice. For me that meant I could make myself comfortable in the front of the boat, lean against the stacked equipment behind me and let Jacky, my personal guide, push me through the water. I actually thought that I would at least spend the first night with the Swedes / Americans (they had only booked one night). But when we arrived at a camping spot after gliding through the countryside for an hour and a half, Jacky told me that the three had their own tent site. So I was three days with a cook, two gondoliers, one of whom had only transported the cook and the other only equipment, and Jacky alone. Four people just for my wellbeing …
The camp, which we then set up, was actually a nature experience as I wanted it to be. Somewhere on an island, the tents were set up under a few trees. Behind the next bush, someone dug a hole in the ground – the toilet. The cook set up a table and a drinking water canister and the two gondoliers lit a fire, which from then on literally burned. Because there was always something to be heated. Constantly cooked e.g. a large pot of water so that there was warm water available for washing.
Except for the drinking water from the canister, which was actually only for me, everything was made with the water directly from the Okavango. We had two bowls in which we washed the dishes, there were two open water sacks on stands that acted as sinks (of course with warm river water), the coffee was boiled with river water, the food as well and Jacky and the two gondoliers who everyone came from the same village near the jetty, just drank straight from the river.
And it was everywhere. The Okavango is one of the few rivers in the world that do not flow from its source into the sea, but continue to fan out and eventually seep into the Kalahari before it can reach an ocean. As a result, the landscape of its delta is shaped by water. There are tons of islands, from small ones that are only a few meters tall to those that you can walk for hours. Depending on the season and the location, the water is between a few centimeters and two meters deep. Now, a few months after the rainy season further north, the Okavango is swelling. The grass and tree landscape we walked over will be completely flooded in a month. In the African summer, in November / December, however, there will be less water than at the moment. And so the picture changes that the river paints, every year from dry to flooded, too dry, flooded, to …
Somewhere in the delta
The river itself is shaped by plants. Everywhere there are aquatic plants, water lilies, trees that are in the water half the year and the other dry, reeds, … And almost all Plants are used by the residents.
We did a tour every morning and evening. On the second evening, Jacky silently clocked me through the sunset, otherwise we hiked across the islands. He explained to me tons of things, of which I have unfortunately forgotten most. For example, what plants are used for what. From which grass they make the roofs for their mud huts, from which trees they make the mokoros, with which plants traditionally diseases can be treated and with which leaves one can rub in as mosquito protection. I also learned a little to recognize the traces of the animals or that I can tell from the dung whether it is a ruminant (mainly buffalo).
Somewhere in the delta
It is a completely different experience when you marvel at nature and especially the wildlife, like in the national parks, from your car, or when you walk through the middle. It was only when I really stood right next to a termite mound that was significantly larger than me that I realized how big these things are. And it was only when I climbed up to the prospect that I knew how stable they were. It was actually Africa as I wanted to experience it.
We didn’t see many animals during the three days, but it was enough to inspire me. The zebras ran in front of me and the giraffes stared at me strangely from high up from 10 meters away.
Giraffes in the delta
By the way, the zebra is the “national animal” of Botswana. I loved the explanation Jacky gave me. The country had a president, a black man who was married to a white woman. And to symbolize this union of black and white, the zebra that has just been colored is ideal.
As I just wrote, on the second evening we drove through the sunset with the dugout canoe. An experience that is difficult to describe. Jacky hardly explained anything this time and just let me look. And I looked – and how. I kept shaking my head because the landscape and the experience were so incredibly beautiful. I sat in the boat, hearing nothing but the soft lapping of the water and the birds. Every now and then a hippo grunted in the distance. It was so incredible … peaceful.
Jacky drives me
That was the point at which I was completely convinced. I was so excited that I found it almost silly myself. But I can only repeat it – the Okavango Delta is incredibly beautiful. And the experience of being right in the middle of it, without other tourists, without luxury like electricity or running water, without fences or the car cabin around you, was awesome.
Sunset in the Okavango Delta
Mokoro in the sunset
When we drove back at noon on the third day, after another morning hike and brunch, we saw a few splashing hippos. The giant animals obviously had fun rolling around in the water, swimming back and forth and blowing the Okavango from their noses. And I had fun watching them – in a dugout canoe, just ten meters away … It’s actually quite another thing to watch from the car or to be there directly.
A few months ago a Greek friend I still know from Stockholm asked me which was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Without hesitation or having to think hard, I answered him: when we talk about cities, when we talk about culture Machu Picchu and when we talk about nature the Andes. Now I would replace the Andes with the Okavango Delta. Now that I have literally traveled around the world, the Okavango Delta is by far the most beautiful place on earth that I have seen!
AfricaFrom the MokoroOkavango DeltaGiraffes in the Delta
Everywhere water Mokoro in the sunset Botswana national animal Also somewhere in the delta
Jacky drives me somewhere in the delta bathing hippo sunset in the Okavango Delta
The Namibian tip of Caprivi forms the northern border of Botswana. And the Victoria Falls are right next to the north-east corner of the country. From there, my path led me south to turn west in Nata and drive via a few intermediate stations from the south into the Okavango Delta.
On the way through Botswana you always have to pass veterinary fences. The limits are called "buffalo fence" and primarily serve to prevent the spread of the foot-and-mouth disease by the buffalo herds. The procedure at the post is always the same: you are asked for your driver’s license, you have to get out and press all your shoes on an old rag with an antibacterial lake and drive your car through a pool of water. And mostly the cool box is also checked. As when entering the country, no fresh meat and milk products may be brought through the controls. You get used to the procedure.
Only two times, she was a little funnier. One time I was stopped, driver’s license, got out, shoes on my rags. Then the officer checks my cool box. The car has a permanently installed cool box, which can be reached from above. So he opens the lid and, looking for fresh meat, pushes the contents back and forth. After rummaging in it for a while, does he take his head out of the box, look at me, and ask "only beer" in disbelief? (Just beer?). I replied "Ne-in – there’s cider in there too!"
The second (funny) time started similarly. Stop, driver’s license. Then the policeman wanted to let me go on. But a colleague of his arrived before I could start the engine and wondered what I had in the back of the car. Camping equipment. Yes – he would like to see that …
So get out and open it. He sees the cool box. Wants to look inside. Still asks "no meat"? I say "no – no more". Then he looks into the box again and then at me and asks with a grin, "And where is my cold drink"? (And where’s my cold drink). Before I could continue, I seriously had to bribe a policeman with a can of beer. The Botswana police force really has no honor! I mean – he was satisfied with a DOSENBIER as a bribe … I just couldn’t help laughing.
After going through some controls, I arrived at an accommodation near Makgadikgadi National Park. On May 18th I wanted to see the rather small national park.
When I arrived at the park’s north-east gate, the security guard there told me that he could unfortunately not sell me a day ticket. He shouldn’t take any money because he doesn’t have a book to write it down. But if I drive about 100 km, there is another entrance at the northwest corner. I could get a ticket there. Well – since I wanted to go to the west side of the park anyway, because that’s where the river, where most of the animals can be found, I drove to the said gate.
When I got to the park’s northwest gate, the security guard there told me that he couldn’t sell me a day ticket. He shouldn’t take any money because he doesn’t have a book to write it down.
Déjà-Vu, that’s what they call …
However, it is not a problem when I drive through the park to the main gate, which is about 70 m further south. I could get a ticket there. Well – since that was the route I wanted to drive anyway … who cares.
The Makgadikgadi Park quickly turned out to be relatively boring. Except for the vultures that I presented in the "You and me …" article, there was nothing special to see. There was a lot of sand for that. I almost got stuck twice and only came out with all-wheel drive, gear reduction and a rather rabid driving style. Most of the time I hiked and stumbled through the deep, fine sand at 60 km / h so as not to get stuck. It’s funny for 20 minutes. But after an hour I was tired of it.
From the main gate you could also take a detour around the outside of the park to go back. Was a bit further, but at least asphalt and no quicksand. After I actually bought my day ticket, I – lucky ticket owner – went straight out of the park and drove about 100 meters.
Then I had to take a ferry across the river, on the bank of which I had previously photographed the vultures. The "ferry", as it was called, was more of a raft with an outboard motor. When the ferryman on the opposite bank saw me, he briefly left his second job as keeper of a herd of cattle and came chugging over.
Since the water was too shallow, he could not get all the way to the shore and gestured for me to drive through the water to him. He also made sure that I should do a bow. Probably stones in the water or something.
So I drive slightly tense in the bow meant for me to the raft. Suddenly the ferryman looks pretty stupid and says "Oh – there is a hole". YES, I noticed that too. Finally my right front tire has just been canceled and the cart hangs diagonally up to the headlight in the water! reverse gear!
No chance. The ground is much too muddy and of the four tires only two have contact with the ground anyway. The ferryman tries for the first time to lift my car up front … The guy was even thinner than me. He probably would have had problems lifting ME, let alone me and the car in which I am sitting. Well – a sentence with X, that was probably nothing.
Then he stood there a bit baffled and didn’t know what to do. Meanwhile, the water was slowly seeping through the door.
Then an idea: he would get help. Someone to help him lift the car up. Only – who ?? There was nobody far and wide! By now the water had reached the pedals.
Two jeeps appeared on the opposite bank, trying to translate. He would ask someone about them. They should help and save. I could hardly believe it … I sit in my rented cart in the middle of a river and have my legs up to my knees in the water. Mind you – in the water IN MY CAR! And the ferryman in charge cruises to the other bank at a pace of 5 meters per minute to get the superman who lifts my car.
Fortunately, the jeep drivers weren’t that naive and came up with the idea of pulling my car backwards instead of lifting my car with lard. It took about a quarter of an hour, then the first jeep was on my side. By the way, he also took the direct route from the ferry to the shore and not the bow that was shown to me before. There was no hole in the floor …
While the jeep man apparently attached the rope to the back of my car, the ferryman chugged over and got the other jeep. At some point the time had come. The rope was knotted and I should go backwards at the same time as I was being pulled.
The jeep pulls away, I move my car a few centimeters. Peng! Ripped rope. Second try.
The jeep pulls away, I move my car a few centimeters. Peng! Ripped rope.
Then the jeep man remembered that he still had a thicker rope. Meanwhile, the entire footwell on the driver’s side was full of water and I got a wet pants floor …
After another 5 minutes the thick rope was attached. And indeed – I was released from my wet situation. I felt like a stupid movie when I opened the door and a huge gush of water shot out of my car.
But I still had to cross the stupid river … This time I went directly to the raft – without holes. Only the raft was stuck now. I still think "You can’t be serious now …" Pull up a bit on the raft, then it will be easier at the back. Does not help. One step ahead. Indeed – we chug across the river. Back a bit – to put on. Fortunately, the bank on this side is steeper so that the raft can reach the very edge.
Pooh – I did it. I’m on the other side and the engine is still running. At least I didn’t have to pay anything for the crossing. I came across the river for nothing. madness!
By the way, with his many years of experience, the ferryman quickly realized what was causing my car to almost drown: it was a Nissan!
And lots of water. 1.1 million liters. Per second!
But first I had to get there, all the water. And again a border crossing was necessary. This time from Botswana to Zimbabwe. Without a stinky woman, but not without a little story.
On May 14th I drove from Kasane, the place of the smelly woman, to Zimbabwe. A fairly short distance of only 100 km was on the program. After about a fifth of this distance I came to the border. I looked forward to the exit formalities from Botswana in a relaxed manner. I had enough pula, the local currency, so I was well prepared. Of course, nobody wanted money from me this time. Logical – I had thought about it this time. At least not when leaving Botswana …
Then came the entry to Zimbabwe. Someone had already warned me (I think it was the Nazi grandpa I met at the Chobe Safari Lodge campsite) that I should tell the border guards that I was there for a week and not just the planned two days. Because if I stay longer than the visa is issued, there will be trouble. Well – trouble, e.g. due to engine damage to the car or something, of course, I wanted to avoid. So far, the visas had always been issued for at least four weeks anyway, but who knows how things are going in Zimbabwe. Well – lucky. The visa was then actually issued exactly for the specified week. And I had to pay for it.
In Pula? No! Better this time in US dollars! Well I had that too. So Visa paid. Then to the next counter – to customs. Suddenly such a guy talks to me from the side and holds a bow under my nose. I also have to fill it out. The guy just didn’t look like a customs officer. But I was used to people wearing strange clothes hanging around in official places and imposing themselves. He probably wanted to help me and then tip or something. And? Didn’t I say it? Yes – he wanted to help me and yes – he wanted money. No tip though. He was an insurance freak and if I got it right, every rental car in Zimbabwe has to be insured. No – no liability or anything.
But it is now relatively likely that you will scrap the cart in the country. Caused a total loss. Bring the car beyond any repairs. Then the car is considered "consumed in Zimbabwe". And since after such a total loss one usually tries to disappear from the country without paying the import tax that has become due to car consumption, this case must of course be insured. For $ 50 a week. The insurance then pays the dollars that the tax refugee should actually pay.
Together with the visa and a few other fees, I was rid of something over $ 100 before I left the border house and was allowed to drive 15 meters to the barrier in my – now fully insured – car. There I had to retrieve all receipts for the payments just made and give them to the turnpike official. He then checked whether I really paid everything properly.
I didn’t understand the man at all because his English wasn’t exactly clear. After he had kept half of the receipts and given the other back to me, he asked me another question that I also did not understand at first. However, since he didn’t give up, it seemed important. After a few tries I got it. He asked "and what did you bring for me?" – And what did you bring me??
He kindly told me immediately afterwards that he didn’t care about the currency. "Namibia dollar, pula, US dollar, euro, rand" – he takes everything …
So I bribed the turnpike man with $ 5 and then I was finally allowed to go to Zimbabwe.
My goal was of course the Victoria Falls just across the border. Here the Zambezi River plunges to a depth of over 1,700 meters. In the African summer – around November – there are many narrow bands of water that fall into the gorge, from the opposite side of which you can admire the Unesco World Natural Heritage. But now – in the African winter – the full 1.1 million liters of water per second thunder over the edge. The water masses fall 107 meters deep before they produce so much spray that you can barely see the top edge when there is no wind. A constant thundering and rustling in the ears. When wind comes up, you can suddenly find yourself in the rain. The raincoat I borrowed at the entrance was definitely necessary.
In the morning when I arrived it was still relatively windless and I actually could see very little. But since I had plenty of time, I ended up staying in the park for seven hours, for which you would otherwise have to pay $ 30 each time you enter. And at late noon the sun was behind me and I no longer had to look into the back light. There was also a little wind that kept blowing the spray clouds aside. And then the Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world, are truly impressive. The water falls over a huge width. Occasionally interrupted by a few islands.
When you watch the river, you get the feeling that it is hurtling towards the abyss at an incredibly high speed, only to then fall down in slow motion. It’s … soothing just to stand there and watch the water on its way down. And it’s great when you look up and see that it looks the same on hundreds of meters to the right and left.
At the end of the Namibian peak, we went over to Botswana on May 12th. After I had it explained to me in the last lodge that I don’t have to do the border formalities in the last town before the border (as my travel agent aunt incorrectly claimed), but that this is only the case when entering I drove straight to the border post. When I stopped to complete the exit formalities, I was approached by a woman whom I only left about 3 minutes after she had spoken to me
The stink woman
called. The stink woman, in her mid-thirties, was looking for a ride to Kasane, the place I also had to go to. Since she was alone (there are often five other people coming from somewhere who also want to join me, I thought, of course, that she could go with them.
The said three minutes later she was sitting in my car and I seriously considered throwing her out for a while. God, the woman stank. Übelst! Of course, I couldn’t bring myself to reach for the passenger door, open it and push the stinky woman out of the moving car without comment. Instead, I opened my window and asked myself the whole trip whether she wasn’t surprised that as a driver I was looking out the side window all the time. When she told me that she was in the tourism industry, I just thought, hopefully at least she will take a shower when she has customer contact. Otherwise the lodge where she works will probably go bankrupt soon …
Together with the stinky woman, I came to the barrier after the exit formalities, behind which a piece of no man’s land began before Botswana soil was to get under my wheels. There the security guard asked me for my permission to cross the border. I just looked at him quite blankly and then he tried to explain to me that I needed a permit to get the car over the border. Not the one my car rental company had given me – no. But the ones that I should have bought for 70 Namibian dollars (about 6 EUR) at the total gas station in the last place before the border. About 70 kilometers ago! I just pretended to be silly for so long and acted as if I didn’t understand him until he just let me through, slightly annoyed.
After the streak of no man’s land came the veterinary inspection. No fresh animal and milk products may be imported into Botswana. A plump mom looked into my cooler and said that UHT milk was fine. But I had to dispose of the salami. Then all the shoes had to be pressed onto an ancient rag, which apparently was soaked in an antibacterial brine or something. The way it looked, I rubbed bacteria under my shoes instead of removing them.
Before I had to drive the car through a water bath, the mom-wife wished me a nice day and reminded me "and call her mother" … Today was Mother’s Day and when the plump mom-veterinary inspector liked me I would not have forgotten the lonely border crossing.
Then the entry formalities to Botswana. So far without problems, only the visa had to be paid. But since everyone and every travel guide told me that in Botswana you can even pay better with US dollars than with the local currency, I had enough with me.
Well – I suppose the arc of tension was not so cleverly constructed and you already guessed it – nothing US dollars. Namibian dollars would be OK. However, everyone and every travel guide said that you couldn’t pay at all. So I had used them all up. Now I was standing there at the border and I was told that I would then have to go back through no man’s land and at the Namibian border I could then change the US dollars to Botswana Pula … Great!
But I still had the smelly woman with me. Then she loaned me the necessary 200 pula (about 19 EUR) and I finally came
Only with extreme effort (not stopping and to gasp for breath) did the stinky woman and I arrive in Kasane after about an hour. After dropping her off, I aired the car for hours …
After a night in the Chobe Safari Lodge I went to the Chobe National Park on Monday, May 13th. And I was thrilled!
In contrast to the parks in Namibia, you suddenly had the feeling that you were really driving through nature. This was expressed on the one hand by fairly deep sand, in which I would definitely have gotten stuck several times without a 4 × 4 drive, and on the other hand by the possibility of driving directly along the banks of the Chobe River; without a road or even a dirt road. But really just a meter away from the water over the river bank. From time to time there were passages in which you had to go through the water a little.
It was here that I saw the great Cape buffalo for the first time. The cloven-hoofed animals with the mighty horns and the thick forehead grazed and bathed in a huge herd of definitely 100 animals. A few minutes later I had to leave the bank for a short while and drove straight through the herd.
Right, left, in front of and behind me – everywhere the animals grazed, dozed, slept or basked in the sun. Some jumped to the side in alarm when they noticed the car, others had no problem at all and I had to wait for them to get out of the way.
After I was really excited, I drove back to the bank a little later – and hit the brakes. A fairly large Nile crocodile lay on a small reed island a few meters away and patiently let the water run through its open mouth, hoping that a fish would also find its way between its dangerous-looking jaws. It was out of luck when I watched it.
Then I met one of his relatives a little further – the Nilwaran. The lizards, which are up to two meters long, often move very slowly, but can also become really nimble if necessary. Their gait looks a bit like a snake’s legs have grown. The whole body and the long tail move back and forth when running, like the body of a snake.
I’ve seen quite a few elephants by now. But the gray giants always manage to fascinate me. So for a quarter of an hour I was watching this one bull standing in the chobe and stuffing the grass into it. Well – the up to 500 kg of green fodder a day that such an adult pachyderm eats must somehow come about.
Bull elephant in the Chobe River
Of course there were also a lot of other animals. Large herds of antelopes, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, etc. grazed the bushes and the ground of the landscape. Again and again elephants appeared behind bushes. Hippos bathed their sensitive skin in the cool river and dung beetles rolled aimlessly back and forth like crazy elephant dung.
Hippos in the Chobe River
I also found it worth mentioning my encounter with the African osprey – also known as the African eagle. Four of the animals were gathered at one point on the river and every now and then they made it clear how they got their name. A scream like no other!
I had just pointed the camera at two of the birds of prey when one of them suddenly spread its wings and shot close above the water. And I was lucky enough to hit the trigger at just the right moment.
African osprey in action
Shortly afterwards I had the camera in my hand again at the right moment (as is well known, often) …
Two ospreys in action
I was more than happy for the day! But then something impressed me. In this case it was not the fauna, but the flora. The baobab – the baobab tree – is a real giant. The huge trees reach heights of over 20 m. At an old age of 2,000 – 3,000 years, the trunk can reach a circumference of up to 30 m. I am always fascinated no matter how many of the trees I have seen.
In the shadow of the baobab
To make it clear how big the tree in the picture is, you should make it clear that the elephants are there in its shadow. Animals that are over three meters tall and can weigh up to six tons. There are seven animals in the photo. But more than a dozen can easily fit under the branches of the tree.
You can tell – I’m still impressed.
Cape buffaloBuffalo herdBathing buffalo
Two ospreys in action in the shadow of the Baobab NilkrokodilHippos in the Chobe River
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