Palapye, Botswana – Polokwane, South Africa, Africa 2017 – Day 10-11

12/09-10/17

12/09/17

We had a 6AM wake up call before hitting the road once again for a long haul drive. We switched up the seating in the truck. We traded and took over the smaller 4 person table and played cards. First time playing gin rummy for me. We literally played for 7-8 hours with only 2 stops. Frans needed to open the cabin and fix the the pipe as it became exposed. Our last pitstop was at a gas station with a newly opened Nando’s.

Arriving in Palapye, we stayed at Camp Itumela which probably had the best wifi spanning the entire campsite. The main reception area had a courtyard that held the main pool, tree top like patio and further in, the bar and more lounging areas as well as a playground.

This campsite also features a pig and 2 goats as well as roaming dogs, cats, chickens and peacocks. There are 2 outdoor toilets and showers but also an indoor toilet and shower facility. There is also a volleyball court mind you the size was more of a badminton court and had metal poles as the court and middle line. The net was also really floppy and low. After dinner we played a few rounds. Word of advice, don’t chase after it outside the court as immediately or if the perimeters, the ground is less cared for and rocks and other jagged things await. Clive was telling us that in his 2 years with ATC, he has never seen anyone actually use the volleyball courts that are available.

Majority of the other people on the campsite work in the nearby energy plant as engineers building turbines. These engineers come from around the world – Netherlands, South Africa, Thailand etc.

Sarah had heard from Will that there was a local club nearby which she wanted to check out so we decided to go. Clive was originally going to accompany us but it was getting late so we made arrangements with two of the bar staff – G and Benny who were willing to take us. Benny’s fiance Charity also joined us.

We ended up walking to Wamzito night club which is the only club in town. All ages it seemed for only 20 Pula entry fee. The bars in Palapye close at 11PM everyday are aren’t allowed to serve alcohol past that time so they all come from the bar to the club. The club opens at 11PM which is the time we arrived. Pretty dead for the first hour but then the crowd slowly but surely filled out. The music playing was house music (not really my cup of tea) and we stayed on the couch for a little while. We were definitely the minority in the club and had many people come up to us just to shake our hands. We danced for a bit and we wanted to walk back but G kept telling us we shouldn’t. Luckily enough Benny and Charity hadn’t left yet and drove us back. I can definitely say Sarah was the life of the party that night with her dance moves and got her photo and video taken by/with the locals. There was a row of food being sold on the side of the road but the rules of the road were out the door with 3-4 lanes trying to find parking at the club leaving us stuck just outside the club for a long period of time. We got back to the camp and showered around 130-2AM and went to bed.

12/10/17

Another 5 hours in the truck to get to our next destination in South Africa.  We crossed the Botswana border to enter South Africa. Pretty quick and easy. The river divides the Botswana and South Africa but also two other countries.

South Africa info

-Population of 56 Billion

-South Africa is still under dictatorship.

-There are 11 official languages – 9 that are African

-SA in the Iron age was gold trading with China

  • -In the 1400’s Europeans & Portuguese wanted to use Africa as a route to trade with China

-The Dutch came in the 1600’s in persecution.

-The French came down and brought wine and formed the African culture of wine

-The British came and colonized and pushed the Dutch inland in 1820s

-Union of South Africa Cape created the Orange free state and Transvaal where the Dutch inherited the apartheid with white segregation 50-70s

-Cape Town was the first to be explored.

-Johannesburg was a gold mining town and is the largest city in the world not sitting near water

-The Blacks, Indians and Chinese were categorized and segregated by race

-These ethnicities lives in the township of Soweto which meant South West township

-They were issued a dog pass that they had to use to get into the city with curfews and segregated in all walks of life (bathrooms, buses etc)

-Mixed race people would be put into prison as black and white weren’t allowed to procreate

-1976 massacre saw 176 students killed as students from the Soweto township protested against the Apartheid.

-In schools, students must learn Afrikaans languages.

-With the Soweto uprising – The English, Canadians and Australians shut down trading with South Africa

-Only by 1980’s the trading started again.

-In 1994, South Africa became a democracy and Nelson Mandela became the first president of South Africa.

-South Africa holds the Guinness World Records for having 2 Nobel peace prize awarded

-The population is comprised of 80% black and 20% white

-Gay marriage was put into law early on

-South Africa is slowly balancing it out with the government giving more incentive for Black owned companies

-The 1995 movie Invictus shows us how two South African men – Nelson Mandela & Francois Pienaar united a country using Soccer / Rugby.

-The South African flag features a sideways Y which represents people coming together – The rainbow nation.

-South Africa is the largest producers of platinum in the world. They also mine Chromium and Angston

-80% of the country is run on coal

-East coast cities like Durban have warm tropical beaches

-West coast cities have cold climate linked by deserts

-Cape Town rainy climate

-South Africa has so many different ecosystems within it’s country

-It has the 2nd largest population of Indian outside of india

-Unemployment is high

-The language of Afrikaans is a mix of Dutch, Belgian, German, French & Flemish

 

After 5 hours of travelling, we arrived in Polokwane, South Africa. We stopped by the mall for an hour lunch so the staff could go grocery shopping for the next few days. The girls and myself shared 4 pies from King Pie. NOTE – The bureau and alcohol stores are closed on Sundays. Unlike many places I’ve visited, it is very strange to be in a place where black and white people and some Indian are the norm however being an Asian person is a rarity. The staring is not subtle at all. We hopped back into the truck and stayed the night at Boma in the Bush. The camping property is quite large but no wifi and the bar is situated in the house of the owner. The water pressure for the showers was the best thus far of the trip.

It was my day to do cooking prep in the rotation. The sky started turning darker as we prepped and the temperature dropped significantly. Rain was coming. After prepping, we did a little bit of a yoga session lead by Lisa pre-dinner before it started to rain. We had free time and I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. The girls ended up by the pool reading and catching up on their journaling and the rest were napping or at the bar.

For dinner, we had beef stroganoff and vegetables. The kitchen had covered grounds with a fridge and outlets so we just hung out there into the night as one by one we all went to shower. We ended up staying up until 11PM chatting away after dinner with Alberto about life and the tour itself and how expensive it was to fly out of Costa Rica.

There was a crazy amount of lightning and thunder overnight. The clothes I was regretting to have brought (long sleeves and pants) came in handy in that moment.

Elephant Sands – Nata, Botswana, Africa 2017 – Day 6

12/05/17

Botswana info

-2 million population

  • -It is one of the least corrupt countries

-Tourism is the 2nd biggest industry

-Botswana people are more reserved but friendly

-Kasane and Okavango Delta are the last areas where elephants can migrate and run freely

-The Zebra is the national animal – unifying with it’s black and white

  • -The death penalty still exists

-One of the only countries in Africa not colonized by England because 75% is desert and very dry

-In 1966, Botswana gained independence and just celebrated their 50th anniversary

-The 1st President Sir Seretse Khama married a white woman named Ruth Williams. It was illegal for black and white to marry and they were exiled to England. They returned after the Apartheid as the 1st president.

-The blue in the flag is water which means wealth.

-Beef production is one of the main commodity in Botswana

-Mining production was the fastest growing production in the whole world back in 70’s & 80’s along with diamond, iron and copper

Setswana is their main language. Here are some phrases:

Du mella ma (female) ra (male) – hello

LA guy – how are you

GA taing – I’m fine

Kea la bogaa ma – thank you

Kea rata – I love you

Muntle – beautiful

Muna – single man

Buna – 2 or more men

 

Our wake up time was for 8AM and it was actually quite mild outside. We had cereal, baked beans and sandwiches for breakfast. All packed up and from Chobe to Nata we went. On the road side, we were able to spot elephants and giraffes. Very unusual for us to see these animals alongside the road and having to stop as they cross the road. We played Bananagrams, spot it and Yuker (still can’t fully get the grasp of it).

Our accommodation for the night in Nata was Elephant sands. At Elephant Sands, you can upgrade your lodging for an extra 40USD to a cabin with a balcony facing the watering hole in the centre. We set up our tents right by the barrier near the bathroom facility and were ready to hit the pool until we saw elephants start appearing and walked through the camp to the watering hole. Elephants sands pumps water into this man-made watering hole to attract the elephants. There are triangle cement rock/shards barriers around the campsite as there are elephants only zone where we aren’t allowed to walk.

At the time we arrived, the sun was strong and our kitchen was outdoors with no shade cover. I was on cooking duty and we made leftover rice with pologna (similar to spam), green peas, cheese in the hot hot heat. We ate under the one big tree nearby.

After lunch, Lulu and myself decided it was prime opportunity to do laundry and what boggled our minds was the fact that we were doing laundry while the elephants were walking past. We did eventually dip our feet in the pool but it didn’t seem the cleanest. Lulu and myself peppered with the volleyball for a bit before we had to leave for our game drive.

We booked the evening Elephant Sands game drive for $25USD. Unlike the game drive we did the day before, this game drive wasn’t done in a game park but just in the wilderness. There are camps with anti-poaching units in the area we went through. The girls, Will, Frans, Lisa, Katie and Stephanie joined us. 2 drinks are also included – Hunters Cider & Iron Bru were my drinks. The drive was nice and we were able to spot many elephants and giraffes, impala, thigpin steinbach and also a jackel. The giraffes run so gracefully and silently. Elephants walk and run like their feet are marshmallows – so so soft and quiet. Unfortunately, the sky was cloudy so we didn’t have quite an intense sunset but the sky was still a nice with its subdued hazy pink and purple colours.

Since we were going from wild to designated non wildlife areas, we needed to go through the border patrol to do the shoe dip to prevent foot and mouth disease.

We arrived back to an elephant sands but had a delay as there was a large journey of giraffes crossing the road. The road to enter Elephant Sands is bumpy yet on our way back, we got caught up with an elephant trying to cross us to get to the watering hole. Once parked, there was a huge swarm of elephants around the watering hole. Before we left at 3PM, there were only 4 or so but in the evening there were so many! Average 40-50.

Clive had dinner ready for us right at 7PM. He made a more authentic African meal – maize that resembled a mix of mashed potatoes and mochi which you pull apart with your hands and it becomes the wrapper that you use to pick up the beef stew he made and spinach. Delicious but super hot. The trick Clive showed us was to quickly pull the maize into small balls to let them cool down before molding as a wrapper to eat with.

During dinner, we looked behind us and there was a giant elephant that stood silently meters away. It stood still and stayed for a few minutes before making its way to the watering hole. By the time dinner was done, the sun was completely down and we were able to just sit by the pool side in chairs to watch these elephants so closely. They were about a volleyball court length away but sometimes they got closer as some elephants would become alpha and nudge other elephants out. We went to shower around 830PM as they shut off the water at 9PM so the elephants don’t go after the water pipes. After Lulu and myself left the showers, we noticed 2 elephants heading there.

The elephants would push out the medium sized ones but the babies would just sneak through or go with their mothers to the other watering hole. The main watering hole where the larger ones went to had a pipe to refill the watering hole so majority of the elephants kept going to the main source. We sat for hours just watching the interactions between the elephants and seeing different families coming in and out taking turns becoming alpha and overtaking the drinking spots.

This went on all night long and you could see large shadows from your tent at the hole a day walking to and from all night long. Sarah mentioned she would have loved to stay up and watch them all night until the last one left.