Day 243 - 249


BOT 31st July - 6th August 2007, Botswana

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Day 243 31/7. Marang campsite, Francistown, Botswana
21°11.84'S 27°32.09'E. Miles today 122, Total Miles 23340
Aah, that would be our queue then. The one that says foreigners. Yup, the one that's 200 people deep, all Zimbabweans dayrtripping to Botswana for supplies. It was a VERY long wait but if Africa has taught me one thing, its the art of patience and so, we eventually entered Botswana. We were supposed to have three stamps on a scrappy piece of paper to allow us to exit. Alas, we only seemed to have acquired two but after a little ignorance pleading, Mr Security let us go. After a short while on more excellent roads, we reached Francistown. A huge commercial centre buzzing with life. Any shopping craving could be fulfilled here, so after a quick refill of supplies from the glorious Pick n Pay, we headed to the recommended Marang campsite. (€5pp) attached to a popular hotel. Nice place. Off to the bar to sample the local St Louis Lager and Botswana's famous, delicious Rump steaks.
Day 244 1/8. Marang campsite, Francistown, Botswana
21°11.84'S 27°32.09'E. Miles today 11, Total Miles 23351
Spent the day in Francistown, changing money, looking for turbo hose (only so much gaffe tape and jubilee clips can do, you know) and oh yes, planning a wedding. Are we still in Africa? Lured back to the Marang campsite for more cold St. Louis Lager.
Day 245 2/8. Nata Sanctuary, 15km E of Nata, Botswana
20°17.35'S 26°18.13'E. Miles today 141, Total 23492
flamingo red birdHeaded north to the Nata Sanctuary. Not sure why, it just seemed like the logical thing to do. The campsite there is quite nice, although a bit pricey if you want to visit the salt pans too. We drove around, marvelling at the flatness of it all, spotting the odd hippo, wildebeest and bird of prey. Just before sunset, we reached a T-junction. "Left or right?" asks Rob. "Um, geesh, right, I guess," I say. Well, I'm glad we chose right, as the track led us straight to the vast main saltpan, which was packed with a sea of pink flamingoes. Incredibly smelly but wonderful. So this is why people come to Nata then. A perfect place to watch the sun tuck in for the night.
Day 246 3/8. Kubu Island, Sowa Pan, Botswana
20°53.66'S 25°49.40'E. Miles today 89, Total 23581
sunset baobabRob had read an article in a travel mag about a magical place called Kubu island, deep in the heart of Magalagadi Salt Pans. It took us a while to travel the 100 or so km to reach it, as the sandy track was slow going. It's a fab spot, just an island dotted with monstrous baobab trees, which are known for taking on a pink glow at dusk and dawn. The community run campsite itself is very basic and horribly expensive since they've received the publicity but still well worth it. Be very careful about driving out on the salt pans, as they can suddenly turn very soft and sticky. Many a 4x4 has found itself in trouble. (Er hem!) Witnessed a superb sunset with a great braai.
Day 247 4/8. Planet Baobab, Gweta, Botswana
20°11.27'S 25°18.45'E. Miles today 77, Total 23658
sunriseMake sure you get up at dawn and walk over the hill (or round) to the east side of the island to watch the island light up in all it's pink glory. Take some breakfast, just chill and absorb the incredible silence. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Drove back north on the pans, which were awesome. Miles and miles of nothing. Eventually (yes, we got lost!) joined the main road again and stopped at infamous Planet Baobab, near Gweta. A funky little hangout for €5pp with a very cool bar and great pool. Look out for the giant Ardvark.
Day 248 5/8. The Old Bridge Backpackers, Maun, Botswana
19°56.68'S 23°29.31'E. Miles today 132, Total 23790
Back on the main road, we found ourselves in Maun, the heart of the Okavango. The choice of places to stay is huge and the place is heaving with safari companies and 4x4 enthusiasts. The very "unsuper" supermarkets are a disappointment but you can still get whatever you need, including the best Nandos Burgers ever. We opted for the Bridge Backpackers and Camping right on the river, which is a small but nice place for €4pp and packed with very drunk but exceptionally entertaining safari guides playing cards on a Sunday afternoon.
Day 249 6/8. Audi camp Maun, Botswana
19°56.04'S 23°30.52'E. Miles today 32, Total 23822
okavangoHaving come to the conclusion that we need to get a different perspective on Africa and experience it from the air, we booked a one hour flights over the Okavango Delta. They are quite pricey at €150 but hey, we're on honeymoon! (That price is for the plane so it would be less if there were five of you.) It was worth every penny and certainly is up there as one of the highlights of this trip. Watching families of elephants crossing the lush green waterways from above was just amazing. However, I also saw the biggest crocodiles I have ever seen! We decided to try a different hangout for tonight and opted for the Audi Camp. A huge place (€4pp) buzzing with overland trucks and excitable 4x4 owners. I spent most of my time in the huge pool, while Rob bonded with landy groupies. okavango

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