Botswana - Bushmen and Mokoro trip
Trip Start Feb 26, 2006
48Trip End Nov 28, 2006
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We started our Botswana experience with a visit to a small traditional village of the nomadic San people who are known as the 'Bushmen' of the Kalahari Desert. There aren't many of them left as most have been displaced from their traditional lands, and the younger generation has given up the nomadic way of life. We went on a nature walk with the tribe and they demonstrated how they collected different foods from the land. This included collected Mopane worms/caterpillars (and then squeezing out their guts), but the strangest thing was when they dug up an army ant hole in the ground and started eating the ants right then and there! After the bushwalk, we went to their village to watch them prepare their food. It was really funny to see a bushman smoke modern day cigarettes.
The following day we went into the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana for a two-night bush-camping excursion using traditional dugout canoes called a 'mokoro'. Each mokoro had a poler who pushed the canoe through the reeds so all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride (and watch out that we didn't dangle our arms or legs in the water because of the crocodiles!).
There are no campsites in the Okavango Delta so you have to make your own! It was amazing to see the group of polers use machetes to create a campsite out of the forest, complete with a latrine!
In the delta we camped right by a hippo pool and it was very amusing to watch the hippos waste away the day bobbing up and down.
The next morning we went for a walking safari at first light.
On our walking safaris we had a very exciting time tracking a herd of cape buffalo (one of the 'big five'). Buffalo are one of the most dangerous animals (more so than lions) as they are very unpredictable and will charge and gore humans if seen. We were told that if buffalos charge at us, all we can do is climb a tree. The experience actually turned out to be too exciting - when we stalked within 50 meters of the buffalo herd, a bull buffalo popped out of the bush 20 meters away. When the bull appeared, our guide instructed us all to get down and we had to sneak back to safety. Here is the pic I snapped of the bull before I ran away!
After awhile, we sat down by a tree to rest, and about 10 minutes later we heard the buffalos moving and leaves rustling near us, so again our guide told us we had to leave immediately. It was a very scary moment, because when you see fear in the eyes of your guide, you know you're in danger! Amy was so scared she was looking for the nearest tree she could climb.
On our way back to camp we also came across two bull elephants grazing.
On our last day in the delta, we woke up early for another sunrise bushwalk.
Though we didn't see any more 'big five' animals, we did come across a spitting cobra. Thankfully it had already dispatched by the polers when it appeared at the camp the previous day.
On our mokoro ride out of the delta, we were passing by one of the hippos near our camp. All of a sudden, we heard a very loud noise and the hippo started jumping up and down abruptly in the water. All of us were fascinated that the hippos were actually doing something, until we realized that the polers were frantically moving everyone closer towards the shore. We then knew that the hippo was making these uncharacteristic movements because it was angry that we were getting too close to it, and it was making a mock charge to scare us...it worked!