We finally made it to the little town in Botswana where our first safari will start. I planned the timing so we had some wiggle room for airline or travel glitches (luckily none of those and we Do have our suitcases), and enough days to get time acclimated. If we had just shown up “ready to go” from Pacific Daylight Time (GMT -7) to Central Africa Time (GMT +2), we would have been miserable and not enjoyed the first safari trip at all. Last night we slept 12 hours and I’m feeling like after 6 days we’re pretty close to being able to sleep nights and stay awake days. Conventional wisdom says 1 day for every hour of time change, but I think we’re good now. Yesterday was hard because we had flown overnight from Cairo and only had about 3 hours sleep, but in the end that helped us get more sleep last night and so we should hopefully be good tonight.
We’re hanging out in a nice lodge about 2.5 km out of town. The manager Lloyd is from Gaborone (capital of Botswana), happy to have settled here in this sleepy little tourist town. While I call this a tourist town, it surely is like no other tourist destination we’ve been to before. It’s a 30 minute walk into town, and Lloyd said it would be ok to walk, but just be cautious. This town is on the edge of the third largest national park (Chobe National Park @ 4,500 sq miles) in Botswana, and also borders the Chobe River. Literally there are large game animals and baboons wandering around town. Lloyd says typically they won’t bother you, but you have to be aware.
All of the resorts are fenced, including ours. He said he’d open the gate for us and we could make our own path to the river, but the look on his face was “really, just don’t do that”. So the odds of actually running into a troop of baboons (which we saw on the way from the airport), or a herd of elephants is not unexpected. We were told the folks upstairs in the riverfront rooms were watching the hippos across the river last night.
One of my missions this summer was to do some research and figure out how we could afford another trip to Africa. This Go Big stay at resorts and safari trip isn’t really our style, but we wanted to do it once. Good news is we met a woman this morning from Brussels who is here with her family and friends on their second or third trip, doing a one way camp trip from Kasane through Botswana, Namibia and into South Africa. She shared some stories about camping in Africa, and it seems totally doable. Not sure I love the idea of a lion literally wandering through my campsite at night, but she assured us that being in a camper on top of the truck felt very secure.
This afternoon we sat out on a viewing platform watching for animal sightings along the Chobe River. It was a nice quiet afternoon, then we had dinner here at the hotel. Tomorrow at 6am is our first game drive, and we’re ready!