Our trip to Botswana

May 5th, 2004, 06:42 PM
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Our trip to Botswana

Our trip started with an overnight flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta, then a short wait and
a 14 hour flight to Joburg. I was shocked to see how many people showed up for the
flight in Atlanta. I was under the impression the flight was about half full. There must
have been 50 babies and kids, and all of the seats were taken in the waiting area. Oh
my, I asked if the two seats between Max and me were still open and they were, but I
was in the front of the line. We waited and sweated. Time to board, we grab our seats
and pray. We had gotten two aisle seats toward the back on a 4 seat row. People kept
coming on and we kept glancing at each other. Soon the doors closed and I couldn?t
believe, we had the row to ourselves. We would survive. We luxuriated in the two
extra seats. Plenty of leg room, we took turns lying full out across the seats with one
watching movies, playing poker (me), and had a wonderful time. I say wonderful when
comparing it to the nightmare of our return. Ugh!
So we arrived feeling great and wended our way to Air Botswana and boarded that
plane. Arrived in Maun, finally! We were met and immediately put on a smaller plane
for Kanana Camp. This was a new camp to K&D, and was across the lagoon or river
from Pom Pom, one of our favorites from our trip 5 years ago. We were given the
honeymoon suite since I had requested a double bed wherever possible. We were the
last tent and had only one other couple in camp. How beautiful. Overlooking a lagoon
with lots of water. I was under the impression the first of the floods had arrived at this camp. They had held lunch for us so we ate and went to our tent to shower before the afternoon game drive. I kept falling asleep during the drive. We were charged by our first male elephant. We didn?t see herds, but rather single males spread out every so often and they all seemed to be nasty as we approached. Don?t ever remember so much flapping of ears and charging. From then on I always told our guide to drive on past and not to stop until we were out of range. I was so tired that we cut the drive short and came back to camp to get ready for dinner. The food was the absolute best at this camp. It was good at all camps, but it was definitely gourmet here. Vanessa, was born in South Africa, and was raised in France. Learned to cook there and her touches were very apparent. Sauces flavored to perfection. We really felt pampered.
We only had two nights at this camp. I was so sorry I hadn?t asked for 3 nights here,
and 2 nights at Shinde which we had visited before. But anyway, I would have loved
another day here since we arrived so late on the first day. Unfortunately I didn?t write
down each meal to relay and remember as they were all so good. The routine this trip
was different than when we visited in the Aug/Sept time frame before. The morning
activity started after a full breakfast. No 6am wake ups and cereal and be off. Oh no.
We woke up to coffee in the tent around 6:30 and a 7am breakfast. We left around
7:30 or 8 for our first activity. Only one other couple was in camp. A young couple
from Gabarone. They were both Americans working there for now. He was in the
military, and she worked on a project for the State Dept. We had so much fun with
them. All in all this was our most perfect camp. We did a mokoro ride the first thing the next day. Kate and Josh did the game walk and we rode the same boat to our
destination to begin our ride and their walk. Since the water in the lagoon wasn?t as deep and due to the hippos, they did not mekoro there. They took us by motor boat to
an island with deeper water where the hippos wouldn?t bother us. It was so beautiful.
When we were ready to return to camp for lunch we went back to pick up the motor
boat and we all took off for camp. We made a stop enroute to look at a giant Boabab
Tree. I thought I?d seen so many of these that this was a waste of time. As we
approached the tree, I saw Vanessa coming out to greet us. Lo and behold, they had
set up a full bush lunch for us. Wine, beer, bread baked in the shape of an elephant, salads and a casserole as I recall. Wow, my first meal in the bush and it was just such a surprise. We all loved it and I took pictures of the table and snuck back as we all left to give tips to all the men who had set it up. The afternoon game drive was shared with
Kate and Josh. We saw: Lion, serval cat, hippo, bush baby, kudu, reedbuck, red
lechwe, impala and giraffe. We couldn?t get a picture of the serval cat due to it being
dark and the tall grass. You?ll see from the pictures that the lion is hard to see in the tall grass too. Our guide had tracked him by his tracks to find him. What a wonderful drive and experience we had. We had a wonderful dinner and sat around with Amarula and coffee looking at the stars and talking about Mma Ramotswe. Wherever we went
everyone knew Mma and Rra and we had such great fun with it. I understand BBC is
developing a series based on the books, and a movie is being talked about too. We
talked on into the night until we all were tired and went to bed in our respective tents.
The next day we chose the game walk. So we boated out to the island, the guide
loaded his gun and we set off. It was all so fabulous. We saw giraffe, red lechwe and
impala. There was a lot of water around so we ended up walking in tall grass. Got lots
of grass stuff stuck to our shoes, socks and shoe laces. These would all have to be
hand picked off. We stopped as the guide tried to point out a wart hog in a small
clearing, but by the time that Max and I looked, the wart hog was gone. I started to step off and that is where I came foot to body next to a 6? Cobra snake. He could hardly be seen through the grass. The grass just barely moved almost like a gentle breeze had hit it. The guide knew immediately what it was. We watched as he wiggled off. All six feet of it, down to the tail. Shortly after that I became very tired and said I?d better return to camp as it was so hot and shortly thereafter we left very hurriedly on our return. We had to walk the same route back and I don?t think I looked up once. I only watched the ground. Unlike earlier when we were enjoying the surroundings of the beautiful island we were on. We saw Marula trees and they were dropping their fruit, so we sampled it and I got pictures of it.
Another delicious dinner, this time I remember it was roast lamb with a wonderful dark sauce that was too good to call gravy. Just wonderful. Dessert was Malvo pudding
which Vanessa wouldn?t touch because she knew how rich it was. It was soo good. It
was a beautiful night and I awoke around midnight with a splashing in the lagoon. It
sounded like someone was out for a swim. I imagined that someone would be walking
up the steps to our tent and I waited in fear. No one came and I sat and looked out at the thousands of stars in the beautiful Botswana sky and listened to the sounds of the African night.
The next morning we took another game drive after breakfast and left for our next camp
after an early lunch. Next comes our return to Shinde Island and Mark and Ethel, the
managers who were at Machaba Camp on our last trip there.

Since I fell and injured myself at Shinde Island Camp, this will be the extent of my trip report. I may later add a segment about Selinda and the beauty of the Selinda
Spillway, but for now this is the best of the best and what I want most to remember.

One other incident occured during this trip. I had inquired about our favorite guide from our 1999 trip. It was at Pom Pom Camp and the guide was Amos. I heard he was sick and hadn?t worked for a few years. Then I heard at the next camp that he was very ill. I got a gut feeling that I knew what was wrong and I became so emotional that I had Max count all of our money to see how much we could leave for him. I requested that a message be sent to see if he could possibly meet us as we were departing so I could tell him how much he was loved. I felt everyone should know before they die if they make positive impressions and I try to tell people when they have impacted me that way. When we arrived in Maun to leave, there was our sweet Amos. What a lovely man. We got to hug him and tell him how we met someone when we were in Antarctica that had him as a guide too. He seemed so pleased and I pressed all of our extra cash into his hand as I said goodbye, knowing we would never meet again. Farewell Amos, be safe.
May 5th, 2004, 06:47 PM
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Folks, I wrote this into word processing the first week when we got back. I decided to post it rather than hold it for the other two camps. Somehow in going from word processing to this form, the spacing is bad. But this is our story. This will be our last trip to Africa and our last trip report. Africa was wonderful and now it is over.
You all go on your way and enjoy this beautiful land. We did. Thanks for your friendship this last few years, but as we end this chapter of our lives, I will also end our association through this website. Liz
May 5th, 2004, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 252
Dear Liz, reading your trip report was like sitting across a table with a friend and listening, intent on every word. Thank you, thank you for all that you've contributed to 'our group' on this site. I really didn't want to stop reading about this latest trip and was sad reaching the final paragraph. Was it Dylan Thomas who said, "The end is the beginning, the end is where we start from...". Please think about visiting us here often. I do want to share my upcoming trip with you, as well. Receive all good wishes and positive energy coming your way...
girlpolo33 is offline  
May 5th, 2004, 07:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 407
Dear Liz

I am so sorry to read about your misfortune in Botswana,we will all miss you.

Salani kahle.
safarinut is offline  
May 5th, 2004, 10:58 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 596
Liz, it was beautiful.
Clematis is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 06:27 AM
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... oh, no you don't, Liz ... no leaving this website, oh, no, not just yet ... lol, don't say my name!! Send me an email!!! You do know how to whistle, don't you, Steve ... and you know how to email, don't you, Liz? When I'm in Botswana later this year, you will be the first person I drink to!!! Promise.

Now, down to business ... I know you took SAA 210 out of Atlanta ... I've done it so many times ... dreaful! Was that one of SAA's old 747s, or a new Airbus (which they are using on the JFK-J'Burg non-stops this year).

Coming back, where did you refuel, assuming you left JNB to CT, and then on to Atlanta, refueling someplace in the middle of the night. I assume that was the bad flight - crowded. Was it an old 747? You job isn't finished, Liz, so get busy and post. And mind your back. I'll give you my chiropractor's name ... perhaps he knows somebody good in your neighborhood. So, post, please, and do take care!
May 6th, 2004, 09:24 AM
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I've gotten the photo album finished and you can view it at:


I stopped the trip report where I did because of the condition of my health. I wrote the first installment, then got worse, then had surgery. I told a lot in the photo album as I did on our earlier trip. We knew Mark and Ethel the managers at Shinde from before and I told them that I would be filing a claim against our travel insurance policy for my health care, but I was not reflecting anything on their camp. This was an accident. It was not deliberate. We love Mark and Ethel and will be sorry we cannot see them again down the line. We met some wonderful people at Shinde on this trip, but I am on so much pain medication now that I don't want to write anymore. Love to you all. Liz
May 6th, 2004, 09:46 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 250

Wonderful photos. I'm so sorry that things turned out badly for you. I pray that in a little while you'll remember only the wonderful time you had and that perhaps you'll come back and join us one day.
RuthieC is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing.
thit_cho is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 11:52 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 56
We were very sorry to hear about your fall. We just returned from 5 nights in Chobe and 1 night at Vic Falls and relied heavily on the updated info you posted right before we left. By the way, your pictures are beautiful.

To Blacktie:
Our SAA Flight left J'burg at 5pm, flew 2 hours to Capetown, sat on the ground for 1 hour before spending 8 hours in the air again before refueling for 1 hour on Sol Island. Then took on a new flight crew and flew 9 more hours to Atlanta when we de-planed at about 9:15 am. We were slightly delayed on Sol Island and then by Atlanta flight control but even if we were right on time, you are talking about 21 hours straight on the plane without being allowed to get off.

The plane was an Airbus 340-600. I think they only started using them about 2 or 3 months ago. The seats are probably the most narrow we have ever sat on and the reports that you almost need to walk slightly sideways in the aisles is partially true. The leg room in economy is pretty tight as well. I was lucky and did not have anyone in front of me to recline the seat. Otherwise it gets really cramped. I have no idea how some of our fellow passengers could have sat through that flight given the size limitations.

As far as how full it was from Cape Town to Atlanta I counted about 5-10 empty seats out of about 100 in the back third of the plane. Some people just lucked out with an empty seat next to them.

The one nice thing about these modern planes is you have your own personal LCD monitor in front of you. You can pick from about 15 relatively current movies and start and stop anytime you want. There are also some simple games to play. There was even a live camera shot called "taxi cam" which you could view anytime from take off to landing.
jeorgiagirl is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 12:11 PM
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Thanks, jeorgiagirl, I know that flight, have taken it several times, but always on their 747s, and even then it was tight. My goodness, I had hoped the new Airbus would provide more room. We're on the NS JFK to JNB.

I believe the configuration is 2-4-2, so we've taken a 2. It is going to be a looooong flight. I simply don't understand why SAA can cramped us in like that. I suppose my own delight is I'm using FF miles, they are getting no money!!!
May 6th, 2004, 01:03 PM
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Liz - The photos were great; thanks so much for sharing. When I think of your excitement prior departure, I'm so sorry that things beyond your control have left you with a bad back and bad taste for Africa. Give yourself the time to heal, and maybe you'll feel differently a while down the road. We'd surely miss your input. But first things first - get well.
May 6th, 2004, 01:28 PM
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... I stared at that damned snake until my eyes fell out, and I still can't see the bugger! But oh yes, I believe he was there, I do believe it, creepy crawly demon of a snake, and no way am I setting foot on ground in Botswana. Walking trip, hah, they will have to carry me! At those prices, bring me four linebackers and a litter. I will be carried, while I watch for snakes.
May 6th, 2004, 02:30 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 592

Thank you so much for sharing all those wonderful pictures with us. I too loved the pictures of the lilys. They are beautiful.

Thanks for thinking of me with the elephants. I can't wait to get back and see them myself in August.

So very sorry to hear about your accident. Hope that now you are back home with good medical care that you will quickly be on the mend.

Please, please don't give up on us Fodorites though. We understand your health comes first, but when you start feeling better drop in and give us the benefit of your wisdom. You have been so helpful to so many of us that we don't want to lose you.

Mama Tembo
JanGoss is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 02:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 596
Your photos are beautiful, especially the lily and all from the mekoro. I can't believe you managed to get all this done, under the circumstances. The album captures the trip well.

No pic of the bush baby? You are lucky to see one - I have always wanted to see one.
Clematis is offline  

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