The border crossing to Botswana near Kasane goes smoothly. Because of the foot and mouth disease we have to undergo a disinfection procedure for us and the tires of our car. The soles of our shoes are bathed in a puddle, then the nice lady wants to have a look into our refrigerator, but she can't get up the stairs because of its considerable volume. Without further ado she looks at the whole thing from below and Karin shows her some ice cubes from the freezer. She is satisfied and we are allowed to pass.
After a few kilometers there is already a supermarket that finally has an offer without asking horrendous prices. Then we get a new SIM card with 15GB data and we are ready for everything that may come.
When Botswana became independent in 1966, it was one of the 25 poorest countries in the world. But then diamonds were discovered in the Kalahari in 1967 and that boosted the economy. Just 20 years later, the country boasted the world's second-highest economic growth rate. However, diamond reserves will be depleted in less than half a century and already the global economic crisis shows how devastatingly dependent Botswana is on its diamond exports. Already today, one in four people of working age is unemployed, and among young people as many as one in three. Due to the natural beauty of the country, such as the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari and the huge salt pans, it is obvious that tourism is of great importance as a foreign exchange-generating economic factor. However, the focus is on luxury tourism with prices of 500 euros/person/day and more. The country has little interest in individual travelers and makes traveling difficult with extremely high park entrance fees, which were increased again by 100% in April of this year. So it is no wonder that the average tourist spends just 5 days in the country. We are now faced with the challenge of finding the best way to visit this country.
In Kasane, we settle in at the campground of Thebe Lodge and take a very nice 3-hour boat trip on the Chobe River.
We have ordered a new Carnet de Passage from ADAC and it will take about a week until it is here. Therefore we drive a few kilometers outside to Senyati Lodge. There are no fences and a waterhole that is regularly visited by large herds of elephants that practically run right past our car. Through a tunnel we reach an observation post from where we are only a few meters away from the animals. And finally we see two giraffes drinking. A great experience.
After a few days we go back to Kasane where we visit a crocodile farm. We learn a lot about the animals there and now know that they can catapult themselves out of the water with their entire body length to make prey. And once they have something between their teeth they don't give it back. One more reason not to go swimming in the river.
Our carnet has arrived and we drive briefly to the border to have it restamped. Afterwards we continue to Pandamatenga. Nearby an Austrian runs a farm with lodges and campground and we meet Verena & Wolfi again with whom we have spent a few nice days in South Africa. In the evening we search for scorpions with a blue light lamp and indeed we find six of them in the immediate vicinity of our cars. A sting of the only 10cm big beasts hurts like hell and subsides only after 10 hours. After the cook was stung in the morning we don't walk around so carefree anymore. Otherwise we have a lot to tell each other and hope to meet again in Namibia.
We skip the salt pans for now because of our problem with the rear axle and drive only a few meters in for some pictures. Elephant Sands is a campground with lodges on the route to Maun of which almost everyone raves. Around a waterhole safari tents and a few sites for campers are grouped in the sand, without fencing and without shade in sweltering heat. 50-100 elephants and more are present there practically day and night and share the little water that is pumped in there. Currently the thermometer climbs to 35 degrees and the water hole has become a mud hole where the animals can hardly drink fresh water. Alternatively, the waste water from the toilet is taken, or they try to take water from the supply line, which causes the staff to chase the animals away with stones or with the jeep through the area. It is almost a miracle that nothing has happened here yet. We would not like to experience it, if a few elephant bulls become aggressive. Well, but maybe we were just there at the wrong time.....
We like the Planet Baobab campground better. Shelters provide sufficient shade and there is a fairly large swimming pool to cool off. The facility is very attractively designed and the huge Baobab trees are the eye-catcher. Meanwhile, the temperatures rise to over 40 degrees with 13% humidity. Every activity is practically nipped in the bud. We meet Camilla & Franco from Italy who are on the road with an Iveco and Camilla is happy about her first cappuccino for a long time from the MOMO kitchen.
Our next stop is Audi Camp in Maun. The city is the hub for tourist activities in the Okavango Delta. We treat ourselves to a helicopter flight over the delta and it really is awesome. The 4-seater helicopter has the doors removed and the flight is practically like an action movie. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to try my hand as a stuntman and hang on the skid in flight like Tom Cruise. In 100m height it goes over the delta and for a few minutes we go down to 5m. This is really a feeling like in a video game. Unfortunately, the 60min are gone too fast and I have recorded it in a short video clip, see here Heli Flight Okavango Delta
Karin has quite a problem with a pinched sciatic nerve and bad trails, which are plentiful here, are a torture for her. We visit a doctor for a shot and medication and now don't know how it will develop. We stay on a nice campground south of Maun until it gets a little better and then cross the border into Namibia. What we will experience there you will learn in the next blog.