Okavango Delta – Nata – Maun – Okavango Delta, Africa 2017 – Day 7-9

12/06-08/17

12/06/17

Our morning wake up call was for 6AM with it raining a little through the night. When we came out of the tent, the watering hole had finally been emptied with 1 elephant approaching from the distance as we ate breakfast. We had to pre-pack our lunch as this day was our first long-haul drive where we would not stop for a lunch pitstop. We drove from Nata to Maun.

On our drive, we spotted ostriches and zebras.

Okavango Delta info

-The delta is a UNESCO sight because the tectonic plates shifted and use to be dry but now it’s wet. It is one of the very few major interior delta systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean, with a wetland system that is almost intact.

-May-July is when water levels are high. The rainy season brings nutrients down for the animals. The water is low season is about a meter deep.

-Mokoro are traditional boats that are made of jackelberry, sausage or sycamore trees dug out to make it hollow and push it with a pole. Polers use large staffs to push through the river.

-Fishermans turned to tourism to create more income.

  • – The Okavango Delta is 15000KM depending on water levels.

-Antelope/Impala that live in the delta have their hooves jut out so they can adapt and not sink into the mud.

  • -The Delta is made up of different channels.

Our day was made up of driving to Maun. We arrived at Sitatunga Camp – Delta Rain – our campsite for the night. We set up our tents right outside the wooden columns so we were closest to the bar to get better wifi reception. There is a pool (murky waters) and a volleyball court (not up to par but decent enough with soft sand). Good thing I brought a volleyball. The girls and myself played but it was sure hot. Will, Clive and the other guide from another tour joined us before we had to stop for dinner.

After dinner, the sun had set and back to Volleyball we went. The rallies got more intense as Shaw also joined and Will had gotten some tips for Lulu and his form improved. Alberto also joined. The lights seem to be on timer going off every 5 minutes or so and back on after 3 or something like that. We played into the night but finished so we could go shower.

The showers were quite glamourous from what we’ve had. Overhead shower head but the stalls are much larger and have a shelf and towel rack with a level you could sit if you’d like.

After the relaxing shower, we met Shaw at the bar where to offered us homemade rosmalai (Indian dessert) and pistachio coconut ice cream. Absolutely delicious and a real treat after playing volleyball. The pistachio ice cream is made with condensed milk, cream, nestle milk powder, cooked down then add Coconut cream, coconut flakes, pistachio, almond.

Shaw is originally from Pakistan. His father was a banker who opened banks around the world and moved around and settled down in Botswana. Shaw studied in Cape Town – culinary. He recently took ownership of the food and drink of Sitatunga camp about 2 months and has big ideas such as an open concept outdoor kitchen. His side business is security systems for the big resorts. He lives in Kasane and Francistown (4-5 hours away).

NOTE – This overnight portion of the trip is when you should pack neutral colours (no bright colours, blue and whites) not to scare animals and pack sneakers and pants to avoid getting scratched up on your bushwalks.

12/07/17

I woke up and repacked 1 bag for the overnight stay with swim suit, a change of clothes, camera and whatever else you need for overnight.

We had french toast for breakfast. It was my turn to purchase a block of ice for 20 Pula and packed it into the smaller cooler that we would be taking with us.

We all got on the safari truck and off we drove to the delta. It got a little bumpy entering into the village surrounding our entry point to the delta channel for the mokoros (old fashioned boats you pole to get you around). Sarah and myself had Simon as our poler.  In your mokoro before you step in, the poler places your sleeping mats (2) opened and creates seating with a back rest using your backpack, 5L waters and sleeping bags. The ride was 1.5-2 hours and was very smooth and relaxing.  As we were entering into our campsite, there were 6-8 elephants walking past just meters away.

When we all finally arrived to the campsite, we met Xtra – the head of the polers and Phil & Litos the bushmen. They gave us the rundown about the general campsite and gave us strict rules about asking permission and requiring a person to escort us if we wanted to venture as we were in the wild. Since Clive and Frans stayed back and ran errands, Will became one of the polers and the cook for this portion of the trip. For lunch, we had tuna pasta and oranges.

It was way too hot to do anything in the sun until 3PM but at least we had a nice view of the elephants from our site. At 3PM, Will took us out and we tried our hand at poling and swimming in the same river. The water is orange in colour due to vegetation but clean and refreshing nonetheless.

Poling is more difficult than it looks especially with wind and going against the current. Similar to stand-up paddleboard and kayaking but you only pole on your dominant side then use the stick as a rutter to help steer. We made it down a bit and parked the mokoro to dunk into the river. Summer months are when the river water levels are lower so standing was not an issue and you would still be above the water standing in your knees. The water is very refreshing with little fishes swimming around. As you are standing up, you can peak over the grass and see on-land where elephants are just roaming free.

We had to pole our mokoros back and got ready for our afternoon/evening bushwalk. We split off into 2 group and had to walk single-file. The evening walk was nice but we only were able to spot zebras, herons, wilderbeasts and buffaloes.

We came back famished to a candlelit (a little too windy) dinner of roasted chicken, coleslaw, rice and squash courtesy of chef Will.

After dinner since all of us were still sitting around the table, we played werewolves (similar to mafia). Will chose his werewolves (he chose the 4 of us) and after 2 rounds, Katie accused us 4 being the “canasian werewolves” as Stephanie was the doctor and Lisa the seeer but both unfortunately had been killed off early in the game. Thus the name Canasian Werewolves came to be.

Our game was short lived as we all migrated over towards the campfire. The polers did a special performance for us with traditional songs and dance which finished off with group mental thinking riddles. We ended the night watching the stars (cloudy) and fireflies with the girls until the fireflies glimmer started to disappear and the clouds rolled over.

12/08/17

We woke up at 5AM for our morning bushwalk. To be honest, nothing special but the sunrise was lovely. Unfortunately we weren’t able to spot any other animals minus zebras and elephants in the distance during this walk. We returned to breakfast of baked beans, hardboiled eggs, toast and bacon. Packed up and back we went in the mokoro leaving the delta behind.

Simon our poler poles part time but is also a overland/safari tour guide in Maun. He and his girlfriend are expecting their 1st child in 4 months and he plays soccer. His sister met us on the river to collect the bag of jewelry and carvings that they make and try to sell to us tourists. Majority of the times, the women make the jewellery or the sculptures but the men are the faces that try to sell it.

On the mokoro ride back, I pumped the soccer balls I brought with me and gave them away to the kids in the village. I also brought a bag with 2 t-shirts, a pair of pants and another ball. The children are so lovely. I walked towards the soccer field where a large group of children were all of a sudden, all the children ran over to me, swarmed and took the whole bag out of my hands. Madness. I’m happy I was able to give the soccer balls to these nice kids before the mob.

Back at Sitatunga for lunch of chicken burgers with a relaxing do whatever afternoon. A few opted to do the additional flight over the delta excursion while a few went back to town to do some shopping. I stayed behind and just relaxed with the 2 dogs on site.

We had spaghetti with beef bolognese for dinner. Shaw ended up taking us down the road to see the crocodile farm with Shaw. Once again, we finished off our night playing some volleyball with Shaw and Will but we the intensity wasn’t the same as the last volleyball night and we all seemed drained. We showered and met back up with Shaw at the bar where he had prepped homemade pistachio ice cream for us and made a huge portion that we demolished.

Itinerary – Africa – 2017

11/30-12/15/17

 

I usually jump onto trips because of amazing flight deals but this time around, my friend Sarah alerted myself and 2 other friends about this other special deal on a tour. We had spoken for a few years about going to Africa and twice a year, On the Go Tours runs a promotion of 2 for 1 on tours. Grab a friend and go for the price of 1 person. Regular price for our 12 days Victoria Falls to Johannesburg was $1495CAD. Meaning $747.50CAD per person for the tour.

Our flight we got for a reasonable price at $1283.90CAD. Toronto to France (CDG) (10-12 hour stopover), France (CDG) to Addis Ababa – Ethiopia (ADD), Ethiopia to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (VGA). Return is from Johannesburg (JNB) to Addis Ababa – Ethiopia (ADD), Ethiopia to Dublin, Dublin to Toronto. Originally we wanted to stay for another week to optimize our time but for $500CAD cheaper to return home on a Thursday just made more sense for us.

Would’ve loved to go into a township like the Apartheid Museum and Soweto in Johannesburg but our timing of arrival and departure just didn’t work out. I would recommend the Sightseeing hop on and off tour bus as that would have been the method we would have seen the city if we had time. Otherwise, if not renting a car, UBER is the next best way to get around – cheap and safe.

Uber discounted ride code: rosannau34ue

https://www.uber.com/invite/t0pz2w

I travelled with my friends Sarah, Jin and Louisa. #CUTYAdventures #canasianwerewolves

 

Things to do before you leave:

 

Vaccinations:

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B

Typhoid

Cholera

Yellow Fever (Required if you are going to an area with high risk or transiting from a country with high risk (more than 12 hours) – please check websites to find out) As of 2017, there is a shortage in Yellow fever shots – certain clinics will only have partial vaccine (1 year validity) some locations have lifetime shots. Technically, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa don’t require it.

 

Prescriptions (Recommended but not all required)

Malaria Pills (take pill 2 days before and 7 days after trip)

Cinpro/Anthim in case of diarrhea

Ducarel – must be started a week or 2 before you leave

 

Visa

 

-Check to see if you need a visa for the countries you are visiting (Canadians are required a visa for Zimbabwe but can obtain on arrival – $75USD – still cheaper than obtaining prior to arrival)

*If you plan on going to Zambia as well, there is a cheaper dual visa for $50USD (For Canadians)

 

Alcohol

-Beer is roughly $2

 

Outlets

-Outlets the big round 3 prong and sometimes larger 2 round prong with flat prongs.

 

Credit Card / Debit

-Credit Card can be used in majority of all the areas minus markets.

-ATM – Better exchange rates than currency exchange with Debit Machine

 

Zimbabwe

-Zimbabwe adopted USD as their currency (bills only).

-$1USD = 362ZWD (Zimbabwean Dollars) – otherwise, currency is 1:1

-You can drink the tap water and can also ask for tap water and ice at many places.

-No Tipping as Vat is included so tax is included in prices shown. Tip is usually 10%.

-Entry Visa required

 

Botswana

-$1CAD = 7BWP (Pula)

-$1USD = 10BWP (Pula)

-You cannot drink the tap water

-Carry 2 pulas & toilet paper around for public washrooms

-Language is Setswana

-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

-Botswana people are more reserved but friendly

 

South Africa

-$1CAD = 10ZAR (Rand)

-$1USD = 13ZAR (Rand)

-You can drink the tap water

-UBER is the best and cheapest way to get around. Door to Door is key for safety

-11 Official languages; 9 of which are African

-Afrikaans – A mix of Dutch, Belgian, French & Flemish.

-Population – 20% is White & 80% is Black & Other (Indian, Korean & Chinese)

 

Below is my initial itinerary for the trip (not updated to what we did)

 

11/30 Toronto / France

FLY – 840PM YYZ-> 950AM CDG

 

12/01 France / Ethiopia

950AM

LAYOVER – 10-12 hour stopover in France
1030-1130AM

TRAIN – CDG term 2 – RER Train to Châtelet-Les Halles. Walk to Centre Georges Pompidou (45 mins – €10.30 – purchased 2 pack ticket – €20.60)

-Châtelet-Les Halles

-Le Centre Pompidou (Opens at 11AM – Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France)

-5 euro – panoramic ticket – rooftop view

18 min walk

1250PM

-Le Louvre – Pyramid & Carrousel Arc de Triomphe (75001 Paris, France) – Take photos outside

12 min walk

150PM

–L’ardoise (28 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris, France) (Open 12-3PM & 630-1130PM) (Pre-fixe – 38€)

2 min walk

3PM

-Louis Vuitton Maison Vendôme – 2 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France

14 min walk

330PM

-Galerie Vivienne – 5 Rue de la Banque, 75002 Paris, France – mosaic – rustic elegance

4 min walk

345PM

-Jardin du palais royale – 6 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France

-Les Deux Plateaux (2 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France) – Take photos outside

5 min walk

430PM

-Galerie Vero Dodat – 8 Galerie Véro-Dodat, 75001 Paris, France

-Walk La Seine River

530 – TRAIN – CDG Term 2

Châtelet – Les Halles, 75001 Paris, France -> RER BEPOLAéroport CDG Terminal 2 TGV

FLY – 945PM CDG -> 645AM ADD

 

12/02 – Ethiopia / Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls

FLY – 835AM ADD -> 1215PM VGA

Airport shuttle transfer

STAY – Shearwater Explorer Village (Wifi)

 

12/03 – Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls

-Victoria Falls

-Biking

 

12/04 – Victoria falls – Chobe River, Botswana

STAY – Thebe River Safaris Campsite (Wifi available in reception area)

– Kasane – Chobe River – Watch Elephants & Hippos

– Sunset Boat cruise

 

12/05 – Kasane – Nata Region

STAY – Elephant Sands (Wifi – very weak signal)

-Afternoon/Evening Game drive

 

12/06 – Nata Region – Maun

STAY – Sitatunga Campsites (Wifi available in bar and weaker signal around site)

 

12/07 – MaunOkavango Delta

-Overnight excursion into the Delta

-Early morning to Mokoro Poler’s Station

STAY – Mobile Tented Camp in Okavango (NO WIFI)

-Guided evening bushwalk

 

12/08 – Okavango Delta – Maun

-Morning bushwalk

-Visit local village via Pole Canoes

-Return to Maun w/ optional scenic flight over the Delta

 

12/09-10 – Maun – Palapye – Polokwane (South Africa)

-Drive to the small town of Palapye (between Francistown & Gaborone (Bostwana’s capital)

STAY – Itumela Campsite (WIFI – good signal all over site)

-Drive to town of Polokwane

STAY – Boma in the Bush (NO WIFI)

 

12/11-12 – Kruger National Park

-Morning viewpoints drive – Blyde River Canyon Region – The Three Rondavels, The Pinnacle, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, & God’s Window

STAY Nkambeni Safari Camp near Kruger National Park (20 min free WIFI at reception)

-Visit Kruger National Park

-Night game drive

-Morning Game Drive

-Buffet Dinner (optional – group decision)

 

12/13 – Johannesburg

-Hazyview – Johannesburg

-7AM-2/3PM

-Joburg Arrival – Mufasa Backpackers (21 4th Rd, Van Ryn SH, Benoni, 1513, South Africa)

3/4PM

-Check into hotel – Hyde Park Villas – 28B 3rd Rd, Hyde Park, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa (WIFI – Complimentary 500MB each day)

-Rosebank Mall – Rosebank Art & Craft Market – Cradock Ave, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa

– Open 9AM-6PM

 

12/14 – Johannesburg -> Dublin

10AM – Airport Shuttle / UBER to O R Tambo (JNB) Airport

 

FLY – 210PM JNB -> 825PM ADD

FLY 1130PM ADD -> DUB

 

12/15 – Dublin – Toronto

FLY – 530AM -> 745AM YYZ