Botswana was interesting…It’s a relatively poor country with a huge AIDS problem. One of our guides mentioned that 2/3 of the population is HIV+ and pointed out that probably about 90% of deaths in the country were AIDS related. Seeing the huge sprawling cemeteries with their fresh graves was sobering.
It took us two days of driving thru the Kalahari desert to get to our destination. The main reason that tourists go to Botswana is the Okavango Delta. The Okavango river starts near Angola and never actually reaches an ocean. Instead it turns into a huge inland swamp where the river disappears into the desert creating a lush oasis. The usual way to see the area is to hire locals to take you camping in the local dugout canoes called “Mokoros”. The local guides propel you thru the swamp, leaving you to nap, read, or just watch the scenery go by. It took about three hours of traveling to reach our campsite. Temperatures during the day reached up into the 90s, so we spent the time hanging around the campsite, swimming in the river and basically just relaxing. When the weather got cooler we’d go for walks around the area. During one of the walks, we saw tons of elephant, and even got charged by one. I thought that bungi jumping was a rush, but I’ve never felt so much adrenaline as when that huge bull elephant charged. Luckily it was just warning us, but even the knowledge that it was going to be ok didn’t diminish the experience. Later on we stumbled over a nearly complete skeleton of an old bull elephant. This place has such good poacher control that both tusks were still on the ground, despite the fact that selling one illegally could probably earn more for our guides in one day than they make in a year.