Currently: Bouncing around in the bus on our way to Hwange National Park after a morning of napping
Botswana, you really know how to welcome people.
To cross the border into Botswana, we had to step onto this squishy pad in this nearly empty black bin to clean our shoes. The squishy pad allegedly contained some sort of heavy duty cleaner. We all sort of scratched our heads as to what that they thought we were tracking in from Zimbabwe.
Maybe hidden in the bottoms of our shoes was some bad political voodoo that they didn’t want us to bring across the border. Botswana, unlike Zimbabwe, is Africa’s shiny example of development done right.
Sure, the country has some tribal war history, but for the most part, the country has beautifully and peacefully transitioned into a democracy, diversifying their economy from diamonds and tourism to include manufacturing as well.
Their flag represents racial harmony and peace. The tranquil blue represents the peaceful, calm nature of the people and the influence of water and rain, which brings prosperity.
They also have been on top of the sustainable tourism game for over 30 years, long before most countries around the world. They achieve this with their low-volume, high-cost mentality.
A short drive brought us to Chobe (cho-bee) National Park. This park is known for its elephants. They have over 50,000 of them. It’s actually a problem. Not for us tourists…especially Kelly, who chose this trip because the last time she came to Africa she saw one elephant.
Well on our sunset boat cruise (bouge-y I know), we saw over 100 at one time. Real talk. Elephants aren’t the most riveting animals. The most exciting thing they normally do is wave their trunks around a bit.
Lucky for us, however, a couple feisty young ones gave us a little show. When the boats got close to a family, a dominant male showed his dominance by stomping his feet, trumpeting, and showing the full width of his ears. Another young male a little further down was attempting to rile up this water buffalo by splashing and circling him. No dice though, as the water buffalo just ignored those antics.
This was a pretty intense boat cruise, well as intense as a leisurely boat cruise can be. We went from one animal sighting to the next! The one animal I didn’t know about was the kudu. They have these huge twisty horns that protect them from lions. I also enjoyed seeing the various pools of hippos.
At the end of the sunset, with our camera batteries depleted, we let the animals be and turned our attention to the sunset.
Did you know that on the east side of the earth just after the sunset, that blue-ish haze is actually the earth’s shadow shooting off into space? Thanks to Jim, the astronomer and meteorologist, for that fun fact.
Back at the camp, Eugenia whipped out a classic Finnish drink, Salmiakki. It’s 19% alcohol and tastes like salted licorice. Back in Helsinki last year, I had those salted licorice as a candy and I couldn’t stand the taste. I guess the alcohol made the taste bearable. Over that drink, we had an interesting conversation debating whether or not people are genetically designed to be attracted to certain races.
More to come on Botswana, but for now we head back into Zimbabwe for another national park. This time, we’re stalking wildlife by moonlight.