Elephants, Elephants, Elephants!

Trip Start Jul 25, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Botswana  ,
Monday, August 27, 2007

After a false start from Livingstone (I forgot my passport in the vault at Jollyboys and remembered halfway to Botswana), I reached the Botswana border. A quick stamp out, a short ferry ride across the Zambezi, and we (I was travelling with an Israeli Canadian name Aric) were through customs and into Botswana.

While we were waiting on the Zambian side for the ferry, I thought we might be able to get a ride into town. It was about 8 kilometres to Kasane town, and it was a really hot day. A convoy of land cruisers pulled up full of Afrikaners. I told Aric I would try to make friends and see if we could get a lift. I approached one of older ladies and began to make small talk. She was thrilled and amazed at the trip I was on, blah, blah, blah. After about 10 minutes of small talk, she asked where I was going. I mentioned my friend and I were heading to Kasane, but we were told it was quite far, so we thought we would have to walk or maybe somebody could give us a ride (hint, hint). She maybe we would be lucky and there would be elephants on the other side, and that they would chase us all the way to town so it would go very quickly.

Ahh, Afrikaners. Bless 'em.

They raced off the ferry heading towards the border post, while we walked the 700 metres to the office. Once through they pulled out, not looking back. And there we stayed for a good hour, waiting for a lift from the border post to the tiny town of Kasane.

Kasane was a strange place. We were dropped off at a campsite called Thebe River Safari Camping. It is, funnily enough, located along the Chobe River. There are pleasant grassy sites to pitch a tent and admire the view. These, however, were reserved for the overland trucks, or the "real" clients. We were told pitch our tents in the dirt just outside the bar.

Bless 'em.

After seeing the dust bowl we were told to camp in, Aric went back to the reception and asked if we could pitch out tents down on the grass. We were told that it would be ok for the night, but would have to move them first thing in the morning. We lugged our already pitched tents down to the grass next to the river, next to an elaborate electrical fence. We assumed it was to keep hippos and the like from the campers. While we were setting the tents up, two security guards came by.

"Oh, if you are staying here, you must be very careful. Very careful. It is dangerous"


"The Namibians. They come across the river at night in canoes. They are very bad people. The fence, there is no electricity, so they can come through. They come in and steal. They cut your tent. You must not leave anything of any value in your tent. We cannot be everywhere. Two years ago, a man was woken up in his tent. They had their hands around his neck, and they had a knife. They are bad people."

So back to the dirt it was.

Dirty Namibians. (I wonder if the Namibians on the other side warn people about the "bad Botswanans"?)

We arranged to do a game drive and river cruise the next day and decided to walk into town. We walked past small, poor houses housing black Botswanans, and all of a sudden came to a mini-mall that would look at home in a suburb of Toronto. It was strange. It was like a strip mall in America went on safari in Africa, got lost, and decided to set up camp on the Zambezi.

So after a restless night (the Namibians! The Namibians!), we took a game drive in the morning. It was nice, no predators, but lots of elephants and kudos. In the afternoon, we took a boat cruise with an overland group along the river. There were dozens of elephants hanging around the water or swimming over to the Namibian side to take advantage of the greenery. I shot far too many photos of elephants (including one I think is one of my best shots ever) and eventually we headed back to town.

While the Chobe River has much to recommend it, Kasane itself was an indifferent little place, and I vowed to try to catch a bus or hitch out there the next day.

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