Our final morning the Okavango was spent getting right to work at taking down our tents, organizing our personal belongings and repacking the mokoros accordingly. Shaun and I shared the mokoro yet again and made ourselves comfortable sitting atop our sleeping mattresses.
By now we had grown used to the movement of the mokoro on the water and were a lot more relaxed- not wondering if the slightest wobble would send us (and all our possessions) overboard. With Brako, our wonderful mokoro poler, at the helm we swiftly yet gently floated through the waters of the Okavango Delta back to where the 4×4 truck would be waiting to pick us up to return us to our campsite in Maun. Once back in Maun we would reunite with our Nomad Adventure Tours driver, Sandile, and fellow passenger, Jasmijn, who had not joined us on the bush camping excursion in the Okavango Delta.
Upon arrival back to dry land, just like a Tetris game, we had the 4X4 truck packed in no time. As a group we thanked the polers and gave them an envelope of tip money to show our appreciation for them having given us such a wonderful and unforgettable experience in the Delta. We hopped on board the 4X4 and were off – down the same bumpy, unpaved path that would take us back to the main road that led back to Maun. From the truck we watched the locals mill about in their front yards doing their everyday housework. It was really exciting and heartwarming to see the kids run up to the road and wave at us as we drove by. Some would even run behind the back of the truck trying to keep up all while waving at us with massive grins on their faces. It was really cute.
We eventually pulled back into the campsite at Maun only to be greeted with the same massive grins and waves from Sandile and Jasmijn. We said our hellos and unloaded our belongings from the 4X4 truck and put everything back onto Harrison, who was all sparkly and clean, just waiting for thirteen overland travelers to mess it back up again! Soon thereafter, it was a race to see who would get a shower first.
Once everyone was showered, we managed to scarf down some sandwiches and salad for lunch. We wouldn’t have too far to drive that afternoon- perhaps 3 or 4 hours. Our final destination for the evening was a campsite called Planet Baobab in Gweta, which happens to be smack dab in the middle of Botswana’s Makgadikgadi salt pans. With Harrison all packed up and ready to go, it was a matter of everyone jumping on board, taking their seats and getting comfortable for the short drive.
SIDENOTE: You know you’ve been overlanding a long time when a 3-4hour drive is considered ‘short.’
After a fairly uneventful 3hour truck ride our Nomad Adventure Tours guide, Shingie, came over the loudspeaker. “If everybody could look to their left there is an anteater on the side of the road.”
People who had been sound asleep in their seats jumped up with cameras in hand ready and raring to get a photo op of some rare animals. I had been zoning out, listening to some music on my ipod when I heard this announcement and noticed the commotion. Being that I was still seated at the front I leaned forward so that I could see through the front windscreen and saw that it was no ordinary anteater on the side of the road.
No. This anteater stood 4m tall!
Sandile pulled over to the side of the road and we all piled off Harrison – excited to have out photographs taken with this strange giant anteater statue. I marched right up to this oversized anteater and rather than doing my typical “mellyboo” jumping pose, I decided to switch it up making myself comfortable as I perched myself up on the anteater’s nose.
Once back on board, it was a mere 5 minute drive down the road to Planet Baobab – perhaps one of the funkiest camps in the Kalahari amidst a forest of massive baobab trees – a strange looking variety of tree, some of which are up to 2,400 years old! After pulling into camp and setting up the tents we were free to do whatever we’d like to until dinnertime. Some adventurous ones went for a little wander around the property, eyeing up all the unique trees – Klaas-Jan even attempted climbing one!
Meanwhile- Anja, Ivan, Ken, Sandile and myself all decided that we were going to take advantage of the swimming pool on the property and spent some time splashing around in the cold waters. While I was content with just lounging with my feet dipped in the pool, I was soon strong-armed into taking some fun jumping-into-the-pool pictures with the others. It was great fun – albeit the water was absolutely FREEZING!
As the sun set and I had gotten changed back into my warm, dry clothes, I wandered off to a little area of Planet Baobab where they had charmingly painted permanent living room furniture set amongst a beautiful backdrop of Baobab trees! It was nice to take a few minutes there alone to decompress and mentally process a lot of my latest and greatest experiences in Africa.
However, as soon as I had gotten lost in my thoughts, I was interrupted by some of the others who said that they were going to have a few drinks at the bar and wanted to know if I was interested in joining. We rocked up to the nearly empty bar and started the evening off with a couple Jaegerbombs (Jaegermeister and Red Bull) – and it slowly went downhill from their. Followed up by gin and tonics and Amarula on ice… we were pretty plastered by the time we were called back to the campsite for dinner.
Once everyone had eaten up, we had our usual post-dinner chat. This was the time that our Nomad Adventure Tours leaders would tell us everything we needed to know for the next day, where we could ask any questions or raise any issues, and where we would decide upon our departure time. Since our next stop would be in the city of Kasane – one of the gateways to Botswana’s famous Chobe National Park– and our optional activity for the afternoon was to go on a game drive in the park, it was imperative that we got to the next campsite at a reasonable time. We agreed upon a departure time of 5:30am. This would give Sandile enough time to drive to Kasane before those of us choosing to go on the game drive had to leave. That meant it would have to be an early night as alarm clocks would inevitably start going off around 4:30am – a time still well blanketed in the African darkness of night.
While a few others decided to party the night away – I refrained from drinking any more that evening, hung around the small campfire that had been lit on our campsite, and eventually made my way to the tent Sue and I shared. It had been a long day since the start that morning in the Okavango Delta, and it was nice to just slip into my sleeping bag and get some rest. I was really excited to be going on game drives the next day – with high hopes of seeing buffalo and leopards to round out my Big 5 animal sightings!
**DISCLAIMER: While Nomad Adventure Tours did provide me with a discounted tour, all expressed thoughts, opinions and experiences remain my own.**
*A special thanks also goes out to my fellow Nomads, Christina and Jasmijn, for being kind enough to share their photographs from that day*
**If you would like more information about Nomad Adventure Tours and their products – contact me!**