Saturday, December 6, 2008

Birthday in Botswana (Nov. 29/08 - Maun, Botswana)

Today, Ken celebrates his birthday in Botswana! It's also Annie's birthday, so they both got happy birthday Namibian postcards signed by everyone in the group, a birthday donut with a candle in it with breakfast, and a happy birthday song. Also around the breakfast table, we heard what has become the daily status updates on the digestive systems of those who have been having issues over the past few days. As we were loading up the truck, we found a bright yellow scorpion at the base of a tree, which Raymond identified as being very poisonous - you can tell by the size of their pinchers (small pinchers = very poisonous). A few people were watching a huge soldier ant running across the sand by the truck, and Robert (the guide from yesterday) walked over, picked it up, and licked it! He said they secrete a sour liquid from their rear end that the San people use to season their food. Lovely.

The road to Maun, in central Botswana, was straight and fast. We passed several control points for foot and mouth disease, where sometimes an inspector would come on the truckk to check our coolers for meat, while at others, the officials were all asleep at their posts, so we drove right through. The grass and trees became more and more green as we neared Maun, which marks the southern-most extent of the Okavango Delta.

A little geography info: the Okavango River originates to the north in Angola and flows south into Botswana. It once flowed into Lake Makgadyakgadi, which is now dry since tectonic faulting cut off the river, which now has nowhere to go. The river literally flows nowhere (not into the ocean!) and actually forms the largest inland delta in the world. The delta is a maze of lush waterways, and about a third of the huge area is protected in the Moremi Game Reserve. It is apparently a haven for all kinds of wildlife, including hippos, elephants, crocodiles, and tons of birds. Anyway, we get to spend the next three days exploring the delta by canoe, as we camp out on the islands and search for wildlife on foot. We stocked up on water in town and then set up camp at a site right on one of the delta's waterways, where we will depart from by boat tomorrow. This was yet another nice campsite with a pool, so we kicked back all afternoon and organized our gear for the journey tomorrow. We also spent the afternoon watching the many little monkeys that live in the trees within the camp. They ran around, swung from the trees, and had no problem with trying to break into our tents looking for trouble. The camp also has a nice lodge and bungalows, and a very nice outdoor restaurant and bar area under big trees overlooking the water, so we had a few birthday drinks there as the sun set on another pretty day in Africa.


  1. happy birthday ken! I'll bet he was happy with his happy birthday doughnut! Considering every time we stop at Timmy's he loads up on two :) Still shocked that there are these posh campsites throughout Africa. I thought you'd be sleeping in dried up river beds. Glad you're not!! Nothing like indoor plumbing when you've been on the road for awhile :)

  2. Happy Bday Ken! What a great way to spend it. Sounds like you're having an amazing time. A great way to start your "golden years".

    Tony H