Botswana: Not Only Desert
Once deserted Botswana was one of the most backward countries in the world and lived only through livestock. But in the 70s of the last century, deposits of diamonds were discovered here – and Botswana has changed forever. This country with the highest standard of living of all African countries promised us new amazing discoveries – and did not deceive.
Day one or two. Maun. City of Grooms
In Maui, get all those who are interested in Botswana safari, that is, all tourists. Many stay here for the night, some immediately fly by private jets to those isolated places, thanks to which Botswana is known as the last wild corner of southern Africa. The country’s government welcomes only upscale and high-budget tourism. According to the official version, this is how the country’s authorities protect their unique nature from a tourist invasion.
All nature reserves, national parks and other natural wonders are in the immediate vicinity of Maun. About 15 years ago there was a dusty village on this place, the last asphalt section of the road also ended here, but then white people came here and began to develop tourism. Now 99% of all safaris in the country will start from Maun. And with the advent of tourists, supermarkets, Internet cafes and bars came to the city.
In order not to waste time in vain, we set off in search of a safari operator. It was worth asking a few passers-by – and we were already sent to a certain Matt in Okavango River Lodge. They all said as one that it is better to find a guide than him in all of Africa. Okavango River Lodge turned out to be literally the center of all life in Maun. Here, every evening, the whole white population gathers, including elders and babies, and during the day you can splash around in the pool – on a hot day it helps a lot. But showing up in a bikini is simply dangerous: as soon as we took off our shorts and T-shirts, as fans began to appear at the edge of the pool. Someone immediately offered a drink, someone started from afar: where are you from? who will you be how do you like Botswana? you have beautiful eyes … The day passed smoothly into the evening, lanterns were lit in the bar, a whole pork carcass was spinning, people came noticeably, and everything, absolutely all the men were eager to meet us. What is going on? What is the secret of such wild popularity? The secret was revealed the next day – we read statistics about Maun: about one and a half thousand whites live here, who keep themselves separate from black Africans. Among these one and a half thousand per woman, eight men. According to statistics, Maun is the first city in the world to consume alcohol per capita of the adult population. And this is understandable – most of the population here are safari guides, pilots and representatives of such exotic professions as snake catchers, crocodile tamers and cowboys. And this contingent is not averse to missing a glass – stress!
Stopover The true master of Africa
Matt, a funny red fat man and a safari guide with experience, turned out to be from a breed of white Africans – descendants of pioneers who had European roots, but by mentality they were no different from the native African population. True, Matt had quite European ideas about the service – we just skated like cheese in butter. While preparations were underway for a safari, we went to watch wicker jugs and plates of local craftswomen, received compliments from men, listened to incredible stories about Africa and did not feel the passage of time at all.
Day Three-Fifth. Delta Okovango. Three in a boat, not counting crocodiles
First of all, we went to the Okavango River Delta. This is the largest inland continental delta, which is simply teeming with all living creatures: thousands and thousands of birds, elephants, zebras, buffalos, antelopes, giraffes, hippos … Who is not there!
In the Okavango Delta
Life boils along the shores of Okavango
It’s best to look at the delta from the air – here you can hire a small airplane and fly a few hundred meters above the river. But there is an option and more extreme wet. On a swampy shore we climb into a flimsy little boat that threatens to roll over from the slightest movement. But the boatman smiles broadly and assures us that we only need to relax, and he will do all the work himself.
Boaters awaiting customers What an outlandish fruit! Crocodiles are somewhere nearby …
We can not relax right away: the depth of the boat is ten centimeters, there is enough space for the two of us. The boatman stands at the stern and, pushing with a long stick from the bottom, tries to keep the boat straight. Soon we are distracted by the views: around a thousand water lilies and other flowers – beauty … Mokoro goes to the very thick of the grass, and only at the last moment a narrow brook opens in it, which after a hundred meters is again connected to the “big water”.
You won’t surprise us with giraffes! Hunting lioness
– Oh hell, hippo! cries the boatman.
Scary stories go about the mercilessness and stupidity of hippos, it is better to look at these giants from afar. And this one lies five meters from us! And wooden wet – for one tooth. But the boatman pushes our vessel away in one motion.