The map shows the planned route (pink) and the actual route (cyan) through Botswana. The deviations are based on our short trip to Gaborone before visiting Khutse GR, driving to Joburg to buy the adapter and using another border post to cross into South Africa.
Intense experiences in Botswana
Botswana fulfilled our wishes and was very kind to us – in terms of wildlife. The country offers so many opportunities to spend time in nature that even two and a half months can be tight. We traveled almost the entire country – except for Linyanti and Moremi GR. This time we visited the upper part of the Okavango Delta, driving to Shakawe. In 2013, we visited Abu Camp and Little Vumbura. The country still deserves the title top class and is certainly one of the top 3 destinations in Southern Africa.
Besides the (justified) high prices – as self-drivers our expenses were about 150% higher in real terms than in Namibia – there was nevertheless a notable shadow point: The behavior of the Botswana police is unfortunately totally unacceptable. They reminded us strongly of the Guardia Civil in Spain. During normal traffic controls, they are always rude in their dealings, unfortunately cannot smile and maintain a military style. They have the legitimation from the current president to do so. Thus, unfortunately, there is no improvement in sight. Ian Khama, the former President had reformed the police and wanted a transformation into a service-oriented police force. The current president has reversed this, as various people explained to us. People are mostly extremely friendly and very pleasant!
Very positive are the regulations in the game reserves. There are comparatively few prohibitions and instructions and (still) a very high degree of individual freedom. There are no fences around the camps. We regularly enjoyed it when lions roared close to our camp while we were sitting around the campfire. Or in Mashatu, when we were lying in the tent and elephants were grazing at night right in front of the tent (1.5 – 2 m) and we woke up from the grinding sounds of their teeth.
Or the lion walking 20 – 30 meters past the camp, looking at you and moving on. All this has nothing to do with any kind of test of courage, but rather with the feeling of total integration. To be one with nature, to be a real part of the events. That feeling rises when you are allowed to enjoy these freedoms. We are very grateful to Botswana for these experiences.
Emotional safety through knowledge
The booking of the EcoTraining course was also a good decision. We felt safe at all times after the training in the bush and knew how to behave to have a relaxed stay. Once you have had these experiences, “less” is not possible. You are “ruined” for all time because that is the new standard. We had to experience this painfully in South Africa – more about this in the next article. What we learned during the course had not only an effect to be able to behave “correctly” for our safety, but also to stress the animals less during sightings – e.g. by knowing the different zones, the associated distances and signals.
Our biggest mistake was to book everything in advance (on urgent recommendation) in Botswana. There was no need to do so. The only thing we could not have booked spontaneously in the entire time was the two nights in Savuti over New Year’s Eve. All the other destinations would have been no problem at all. In the end, this would have caused us less stress on some days and saved us money in the Central Kalahari by booking government campsites versus the private sites we pre-booked. Conclusion after 72 days in the nature of Botswana: Botswana has fully lived up to our high expectations and provided us with the nature experiences we had dared to dream of.