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Summary of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa

Reaching Number 45 country count - yay!

all seasons in one day 20 °C
View Europe and Africa on julesfsmit's travel map.

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And from Zim, we went over into Botswana, to Chobe first and then headed over to Okavango delta. We did a two day trip out into the Delta and we got taken in little canoe/boats with a poler who pushed us for about 3 hours to get to our bush camp. Some people got seriously soaked cos the boats were so low and close to the surface of the water - shame!!
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And we stayed in a really remote part of the Delta, right on the river bank and in the bush. We used the river water for food prep and some used it for drinking water, cooked our food on the fire, and of course used the bush for our pees and poops. The following morning, right at our pee area which was about 10 metres from our tents, the local guides pointed out fresh lion prints in the soil. Scary stuff!!! We did a few walks right into the bush with our local guides and although we didn’t see that many animals cos of high water levels, it was great to be out there. A scary moment was when we saw this huge African Elephant bull that was literally 100 meters away from us - and we were on foot! (They often "mock charge" but still means they run at you at full speed!) And another highlight was a ride in the canoes at sunset where we saw four hippos in the water and we were really about 12 metres away from them in our little boats - the boats so low your elbows almost touched the level of the water. Scary again!!

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We didn’t spend that much time in Botswana cos we spent stacks of time in Namibia. I loved Namibia! Not that culturally rich and different in comparison to some places I’ve seen and been to (e.g. I loved Rio and Beunos Aires and Rome and Banyos for their culture). But in terms of landscape and topography…amazing, brilliant and beautiful - highly recommended! And it changes constantly from lilac mountains and yellow grass to grey mountains to red orange dunes to white coast. really stunning.

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Etosha National Park was cool in terms of seeing loads of African animals again, especially the waterhole that was lit up at night right near our campsite and we saw three black rhino, one hyena and about seven elephants coming to the waterhole, and the waterhole is about 15metres away - it was so close I could hear the hyena lapping the water and the rhino’s feet crunching the soil. Awesome. Others saw a leopard also coming to the waterhole - rare.
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DSCN7129.jpg DSCN7171.jpg We also had fun in beautiful Spitzkoppe. Camping was cool there cos we could pitch our tents on the rocks. Namib-Naukluft Park and Sossusvlei was absolutely beautiful - the huge orange dunes, Dune 45, and the dry river valley with the dead trees that are hundreds of years old. We did a tour through the dunes and the river valley and it was so interesting to find out about the desert life - flora and fauna and how it survives with limited water, as well as the history of the bushmen.

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DSCN6963.jpg We also checked out cool Cheetah Park where we got up close and personal to cheetahs. Some are tame enough for patting and stuff and others are pretty wild and we saw them feeding in the bush. Great experience.
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And then swakopmund - yay!!!!!
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We partied for three days solid. Seriously sleep deprived but so much fun. I love that place - it’s small but pretty, right on the coast, lots of people did adrenaline stuff again like sky diving and I did sand boarding.
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Loads of fun except for walking up the bloody steep dunes - such hard work climbing in the steep soft sand with a really strong wind blowing and blowing your massive board as you gasping and trying to reach the top of the dune - hard! And its actually quite scary when you look down this flippin massive dune and knowing you gotta get down there on this flimsy board and on the biggest dune we boarded down there was someone measuring our speed and I reached 69km/hour but the fastest ever recorded was 82km/hour!! The funniest were the wipe-outs - sand everywhere!

Shona and I decided, cos we wanted to save money, to have a few drinks before going out to a local club, so we came up with a drinking game involving vodka, cream-soda and that game “ching-chong-chung” - do you know it??? (Some people call it "Rock-Paper-Scissors".) Anyway, here are some photos of our pre-club drinks!

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The last photo is staged by the way! I absolutely loved swakopmund and highly recommend it. Stunning. Go check it out ok.

We did a lot of bush campinging in Botswana and Namibia and I counted, within one of the weeks, we bush camped five out of seven nights (although we actually bush camped a lot more than just five nights). Hardcore. I really struggled with that cos of course there usually isn’t any running water or loos and no electricity and we cooked on fire usually (didn’t really use our gas burners) so food took long to make and then the baby wipes…no showers of course so baby wipes were absolute lifesavers for our underarms, feet, and other essentials! I realised im definitely not as hardcore as I thought I was and in the bush camp days I really started to struggle and lose my sanity after a while. I think that’s also why I enjoyed swakopmund so much cos it was luxury. We got put in dorms instead of camping :) However, it wasn't total luxury - there were 10 of us absolutely crammed into a dorm room so small that you could touch each of the five bunk beds when you stretched out your arms and twirled around the room in a circle - seriously cramped.

Anyway, a quick story. At one of the bush camps in the desert area of south Namibia, I got up in the middle of the night for a pee, and looked up whilst peeing and got the fright of my life! The sky was soooo bright and filled with luminous stars, it was freaky. Now usually, the stars have been fantastic in the bush camps, the best star-gazing I have ever done in my life. But this was extraordinary - absolutely extraordinary. Imagine the brightest star you have ever seen, now times that by literally thousands and thousands of stars! It was the brightest and most stars I have ever seen and the sky was almost an electric blue and it felt as though it was an arc shape (not flat like usual). I couldn’t even look up at the sky cos had the feeling that either the sky was going fall on my head or an even stronger feeling was that I was going to get sucked up into the sky. So strange. I managed another quick look but then scrambled back into my tent. The next morning my tour leader said that out in the desert and particularly in that area, there is some optical thing were the stars are like, seven times brighter than normal. She wasn’t sure about the technicalities of it but does anyone else know what the phenomenon is??? Tell me ok cos it was totally freaky!!

We then stayed on the Namibian side of Fish River Canyon.
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DSCN7491.jpg We also had the infamous “cheese and wine” night in fish river canyon. It got seriously messy for some of us, i.e. Hugh and Allie! Classic having nice wine out of stainless steel mugs. But a totally fun night and was so nice to have some luxurious cheese, crackers, biscuits and lots of lovely wine!

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Finally, we crossed over the South African border and it was a really weird feeling. Check out the pic below of us 3 Saffa's - yip, we were quite excited actually!

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It was lovely to drive through Namaqualand and some of the flowers had come out already.

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We then had our final night in our tents at Cedarberg. Ems and I had to have a really cheesy pic of us in our tent. It was called Primus - all the tents were named after African beers. Aah, I actually miss my tent at times...is that strange or what??!!

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We then headed into Stellenbosch and had a fantastic few days, visiting the wine farms, going out locally, etc. I managed to see my sister two days before she was scheduled for her Caesarian section so it was great to see her huge and pretty and glowing and pregnant! I really feel like I missed out on her pregnancy stage so it was nice to be able to see and feel that big bump.

After that we made our way into fantastic Cape Town! Our hostel was great, very comfortable and it was strange to be staying in a hostel in Cape Town, my home city I suppose. I've never done that before! And we had a good few days of restaurants, Waterfront, sightseeing, others went shark cage diving, and of course, we hit the clubs and had a good few very very late nights out - all loads of fun! It was especially fun to go dancing with my two "homegirls", Rachael and Emma. I call them "homegirls" cos I have never seen white girls shake their asses like that! (except in "Step Up 2"...yes I watched it...and enjoyed it). It was sooo sad saying goodbye to the others that were continuing on to Jo'burg. It was such a weird feeling to see the truck leave and I wasn't on it! So sad. I've had such a fantastic time, despite all the niggles and difficulties and irritations that comes with camping and being with 25 other people all the time. And it was especially difficult to say goodbye to the best tent buddy ever, Ems (she went on to Jo'burg). I know we will keep in touch though.

These are pics taken in Cape Town on our last night on tour.
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I just can't help myself...I always have to take these stupid "dork" shots where I hold the camera out and take a picture! I really can't help myself! So excuse my nostalgia as I post these next photos!
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As a bit of an afterthought, I have to say that there were some seriously well-travelled people on the truck. People that had travelled to 50+ countries and Beate, a German girl, who had travelled to about 90 countries!! it was great to get to know people sooo well on the truck, they end up feeling like family after a while cos you spend 24/7 with them. Sometimes this isn't a good thing though, some clashes and arguments at times, but the good thing is that when you have a big group of people travelling together, the personalities can kinda get diluted and you have other people you can spend time with if others are annoying you. ag, it's all part of overlanding I suppose, and for me, overall, it has been an amazing way to travel and see Africa and I totally recommend overlanding!

Ok, well that's most of my news in a massive nutshell. Let's call it Macadamia-On-Steroids issue. I'm just gonna add a couple more entries after this, one about truck life to help you understand a little more what it was like living off a truck for 54 days and then one more current, about lovely beautiful Kayley, my tiny niece.

Thanks so much for hanging in and reading so much - hope it wasn't too boring!!

Posted by julesfsmit 12:22 Archived in Botswana Tagged events

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