Botswana is a landlocked country that is famous for being home to the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta , the famous movie “gods must be crazy” and being a major producer of diamond. If you are hoping to meet semi-dressed bushmen walking around, you will be disappointed as modernization got to most of them. Livestock is very important to the Botswana economy such that at the border points and when entering several towns like Ghanzi, you are required to dip your shoes and any other shoes in ones possession in a mini-dip that is aimed at preventing the spread of foot and mouth. We mainly stayed in Maun town as we really wanted to explore the Okavanga Delta. We enjoyed the below while in Botswana.
a) Riding a Mokoro on the Okavango Delta:
The Okavanga Delta is a sort of large oasis in a country that is dominantly desert. It is fed by the Okavanga river but due to no outlet to the sea or ocean, is a swamp in most places. It is the third largest delta in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is navigated by small canoes locally known as mokoros and we mainly visited this area so that we could ride a mokoro whilst enjoying the beauty that is the Okavanga Delta.
A Mokoro fits about three people inclusive of the driver known as a polar, who is stationed at the back. The passengers seat on the mokoro floor with their legs stretched out before them, while the polar steers from behind them with the use of as long stick called “ngashi”.
It is the best and most ideal way to navigate the delta as one blends in quietly with the environment. The ride is very smooth, calm and tranquil as the mokoro glides lazily over the waters. We got to enjoy watching several birds gliding on the waters and seeming to also have a relaxing day as well as beautiful flora like reeds and flowers. I highly recommend that one starts off early so at to increase the chances of seeing elephants and hippopotamus among other animals that come to drink water here. This is indeed a unique safari and I highly recommend it. You also get to have a walking safari within the park which is also really cool.
The waters also provide water for the locals for domestic use.
I insist one should do this as a bare necessity when travelling and more so when backpacking. This is because the trip is not all planned out but developed along the way. We met a lady in the bus from Francistown as we headed to Maun, who then put us in contact with one guy who eventually became our friend and guide in Maun.
Our polar officially gets the gentleman’s award for making for me the cutest hat made from a leaf to protect my head from the sun as well as the cutest necklace from a flower.
I sat with some gentlemen on the bus who shared with me about their culture and had the funniest stories, that had me laughing all the way. Locals will always enrich your experience with “local awesomeness”, as you learn their culture in its true authenticity as well as stuff no book or documentary will ever tell you.
c) Sample the delicacies:
The common meal that seems to be present in most African countries I have travelled in is what in Kenya we call Ugali. Here, it is called pap and we enjoyed it with charcoal barbecued beef that is spiced up with chakalakala sauce. Go on, sample as many delicacies as you can.
The party scene is very different from most places I have been. The trend here is people heading to a parking lot, placing safari seats in the compound, pumping up their music and “partying”. Once the closing time for the compound happens, they then move to a club, park in parking lot and continue to party-very few actually go in.
There are various accommodation options available. In Francis town we stayed at Upper room Guest house, a really great place. The rooms were spacious, great facilities and the people friendly. In Maun, we stayed at Motsebe backpackers and it was really nice.The tented camps were really nice, the fraternity really friendly , and the view of the nearby lake super awesome.
We arrived in Plumtree , which is the border town between Zimbabwe and Botswana via mini van. We were blessed to then make friends with a gentleman on the immigration line who was driving through Francistown and thus he offered us a ride-I am becoming a hitch hiking pro. We spent the night there and then took an early bus from Freetown to Maun where we wanted to explore the Okavanga Delta aboard a mokoro.
Thank you Botswana for having us. I will indeed be back to delve more into your other cities and learn more about your culture. You still owe me an interaction with Bush Men in the Kalahari Desert as this did not happen on this trip. For more on Botswana check out: