A hassle free border crossing into Botswana introduced us to our new home for the next three days; our Toyota Hilux. The huge 4x4 came as a shock to us, as we didn't know about the stove, fridge, table and chairs in the boot or the two fold out tents on the roof of the car. It was an absolute beast.
We drove to Nata and soon got used to Botswana's simple road system, with our gps telling us to turn left in 307km. The drive down took us through some lovely scenery, although the journey was prolonged by the frequent stops to let elephants cross the road.
Once in Nata we set up in an empty camp (folded the tents down from the roof) and had a chilled night cooking on an open fire and playing cards. Sammie was startled during the night when she went to the toilet block to find an owl whizzing around inside. The next morning was spent on the fringes of the biggest salt pan in the world, checking out the birds, foxes and wildebeest in one of the lakes on the pan.
This was followed by another long drive down a single road to Nxai Pan national park, where a couple of hours drifting through the sand tracks took us past some impressive baobabs and into a new empty campsite. The rest of he day was spent around the lone surviving waterhole in the park, where elephants, giraffes, zebras and lots of other animals came to drink. A young ostrich got overexcited and got stuck in the middle of the hole, only to be rescued by the park staff. Cheetahs in the distance were stalking springbok, but never made a move before our nighttime curfew. The night in the unfenced campsite was made a little less comfortable when we saw a male lion lurking in the trees about 1km away from where we were. We didn't stay up late.
A morning game drive was followed by another long distance journey to Maun. Here we had to depart with our beloved Toyota before settling into a new hostel, with a crocodile on the edge of the overlooked waterfront. An early night was followed by an early morning, where we were picked up and driven to the Okavango Delta ready for our mokoro (local canoe) upstream. A 3 hour paddle in the midday heat took us through the winding Boro river, a stunning location. We then set up camp alongside the river and got used to our new bush toilets, which was a seat in the open above a hole and our bush shower, which was a bucket hung off a tree, also in the open. An evening walk taught us about the local uses of the plant life in the delta and a beautiful sunset finished off the day.
We were up and out our tents before sunrise so we could complete our 4 hour walking safari before it got too hot. Here we saw some zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, ostrich and warthog from pretty close range, a totally different experience from being safely hidden in a truck. The afternoon was spent with me and dad learning how to pole the mokoros, both desperately hoping the other would fall in. After this we travelled back downstream for a couple of hours before being driven back to the hostel.
Moremi game reserve was next on the list, with our open sided land cruiser taking us the couple of hours to the park entrance before an all day game drive. We stood and watched some hippos whilst escaping from the deep sand the 4x4 had got stuck in, before driving round the park seeing a lot of wildlife in the 37 degree heat Another unfenced camp with bush facilities was the scene for an amazing night, listening to the ridiculously loud and close sounds of hippos mating and leopards attacking baboons. Our guide warned us as we were getting into bed not to leave our shoes outside, as the hyenas would eat them.
Our alarm clock was the roaring of a lion, who had been close by all night which led our guide to take us out early to find him. We didn't have to go far, with the lion walking a few hundred metres away from camp. We briefly followed him under the moonlight before rediscovering him a couple of hours later in the light. After taking some long distance pictures he got up, walked towards us and literally brushed past the truck. It was incredible.
The rest of the day was spent driving around the park, watching more of the animals and once again getting stuck in the sand. After a drive back to Maun we relaxed in the hostel and dad got shit on by a bat. A 4.45am alarm saw us on he long journey back to the Zambia border, where a ferry across the Zambezi took us out of Botswana.
A couple of chilling days in Livingstone were followed by the departure of mum and dad, who seemed to have enjoyed the whole experience. After that we were alone again and back to the reality of having no money, sleeping in dorms with no running water and eating a diet of crisps and bread.