Travelogue Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta was our next destination but on the way the safari vehicle died. Charlie and Tips were working on it and
we soon discovered that myself and Fred who was an engineer were the only other two who knew anything about mechanics.
Anyway between the 4 of us we figured out the 3 way valve for the diesel fuel was not passing fuel so we went direct from
just one tank and bled the system and we were off. After a few miles it died again only to find when we drained the
sediment bowl and Charlie put it back on it must of not been seated right, anyway it was cracked so the fuel pump was
sucking air and we were losing diesel fuel like crazy. We are 100 miles from anything and it is 3 pm in the afternoon.
The four of us found some duct tape and tried to hold the broken sediment bowl together as there was no way to by pass it
as it was a part of the fuel pump. We partially succeeded but it sucked to much air. We finally found some foam like you
get cookies or rolls or meat on covered with shrink plastic. We put the foam on top of the sediment bowl and covered that
with the shrink plastic and tightened it up, bled the system and other than a tiny drip it ran great and we were off.
It was the most amazing road side fix I have ever been a part of. We were doing high fives and had lots of diesel on us.
I told them lets not get carried away until we covered the 100 miles to the next town. Unfortunately about 30 miles down
the road the foam compressed and we started leaking and sucking air. We then tried some intertube but it did not seal,
then the pump either got plugged or died as we had hand pumped it a lot. Anyway we were stranded! A truck with a big open
box on the back stopped and we almost had him talked into hauling us but he said he could get in trouble. Finally Charlie
hitched a ride in the box of a pickup to go the 70 miles to finda phone to get the Which Way Adventure company working on
getting another vehicle to us. They try to send one from somewhere in the area say within 300 miles or otherwise they send
one from either Capetown or Victoria Falls with two drivers only stopping for fuel. In this case they found one about 120
miles away and in fact is one we had met and stayed next to several nights so we knew them. The company also has contacts
with mechanics so they got two mechanics to pick up Charlie and had a new fuel pump kit. We were stranded along the road
and it got dark and a lot of the people were scared we would get robbed. I really was not concerned as I noticed during
the day people would stop but when it started getting dark nobody stopped. They would be more scared of us as we were
a group of 21. We build a camp fire. You are not supposed to camp in the bush but at about 11 pm we decided to set up the
tents as it easily could be morning before someone came to rescue us. About that time the other truck showed up and we
moved our stuff to it and were off. We were rolling along and all the sudden we violently swerved and almost hit an
oncoming car on the wrong side of the road. What happen was there was a big bull in the road and they swerved one way and
we the other and we each were on the wrong side of the road. It turned out to be Charlie with the mechanics who went on
to the truck where Tips our driver stayed and after about 1 hour they had the repairs made and were on the way in to our
next camp. We got to the CG at 3 am and set up our tents. We have set up in the dark so many times it is second nature.
My LED headlamp is worth its weight in GOLD! We heard our safari vehicle come in about 6 am. I got up about 7 am
to take a shower. I turned the faucet that had red on it and all I got was cold water. Man I wanted a hot shower bad!
The driver who was showering next to me said he had hot water but I though he was kidding the way he was talking but I
found out the blue faucet was hot so in Africa and Mexico you just never know!
We got breakfast and our rides for the Okavango Delta showed up. It is a huge flood plain coming from the north into
Botswana! After a rough ride we had a two hour trip in boats made out of a tree log and each boat had a native poler who
skillfully guided the boat through the narrow streams with water grass on both sides. We had about 1 inch of free board
and once in awhile took on some water. We got to our camping location and there was a bull elephant there but the natives
finally, carefully got him to move. We camped under a tree and there was nothing there for facilities or seats. We dug a
hole for the toilet and got ready to spend two days without a shower, no place to sit other than on the ground, etc. We
did have our tents. The next day we went on a hike and got within about 200 feet of a bull elephant. Our guide was really
watching and making sure the wind was in our face. Let me tell you that is close!!! Next we got to withing about 100 feet
of hippo's in a pond. They make a loud noise like HA HA and blow a water spout kind of like a whale. They are a noisy bunch
and at night come out and graze, traveling long distances. They can move fast and kill more people in Africa than any
other animal. The guide kept a watchful eye but did not seem nearly as concerned as he was about the bull elephant even
when the one Hippo started acting up, protecting his turf. We have been getting lots and lots of closeup pictures other
than we have only seen 5 lions and only at great distances, ie barely see with the naked eye. That evening the
natives sang and danced for us and then wanted us to do some songs. The dutch people got pretty crazy so I think we
entertained the natives more than they did us but we had a good time. We sang a song from each country there, Botswana,
Holland, Belgium and Edith sang God Bless America. She definitely was the best singer there, the natives and dutch were
impressed! That evening we had a sunset boat ride and Suszanne and Daniel had their poler go a little farther as he had
to stop and fix a leak in the boat. All of a sudden there was a Hippo that let out a loud snort about 4 meters from them
on the bank. They said the poler just shot them out of there. Definitly to close. They turned around at Buffalo camp
which is abandoned, as a German was killed there by a cape buffalo so they had quite a story to tell.
We were poled out the next morning and then had the long rough ride back to town. We seen lots of other big game.
When we got back to the CG one of our group hit the ground running for the bathroom and shower.We were definitely dirty!
From there we went to Baobab CG where the huge Baobab trees are. They look like the size of sequoia tree trunks but
are not near as tall. They are supposed to be 3000 years old. We camped right under one. This in my opinion was one of our
nicer CG. They had a nice open eating place like a PALAPA. We ate there as the Botswana foot and mouth checkpoint took all
our meat. It is much more corrupt than anything I have every seen! Charles was really mad about the whole deal.
He chopped the meat up with an axe an threw dirt on it. They made him put it on a fire which was not going and did not
give him any wood so he had to get our wood to start a fire. He made real sure they would not be able to eat it.
He made the inspector mad and we almost ended up having to spend some time but Charlie realized it so he shut up.
The truck is running good and our next stop is the Chobe River and Chobe Park. Here we met our friends again with the
two from the USA, this is at least our sixth meeting. We have a wonderful sunset cruise on the Chobe and see some new
animals and lots we have seen before. New were Sable, Red Letche, Crocodiles and cape Buffalo. We get some great sunset
pictures with African big game. In the morning 5 of us go on a game drive, leaving a little after 5 am. In the park we
get within 15 feet of a male and two female lions walking by. We are up about 5 feet on seats on a bed on the back of
a pickup type vehicle. Let me tell you we were eyeball to eyeball! Supposedly lions just see the vehicle and not the
people in it but I could not help but think how they could be in the seat with me in an instant. We also seen large
crocodiles, lots of animals we had seen but also Puku which is a antelope type animal which are rare and only found in
Chobe. We continue to see many unusual birds. The rest of the group are just besides themselves that they did not go as
they have only seen lions af very long distances barely seen by the naked eye. Edith and I decided before the trip that
every chance we got to see wildlife we would do it no matter how tired we were or how early we had to get up or how hot
or cold it is. BTW it is hot during the day but still at night it gets real chilly but some nights are colder than others.
I would guess about 40 degrees to 45 at night.
From Chobe we took the ferry across the Chobe River to Zambia. We waited 4 hours and our dutch tour leader even
paid the ferry guys. We had another good visit with the other group with the two USA people. Africa is a huge place but
we always seem to find each other. It took us another hour to clear the border! As usual we ran late so went right to
Victoria Falls. It is like Niagara, two parts but not as much water going over but wider, much wider. There was a market
and some of our group really went wild shopping so we will be back. At the waterfont CG we have good showers and food.
We stay in tents on platforms with real beds so it is like a Hilton! There is great whitewater rafting on the mighty
Zambezi River but we decide not to chance getting banged up as we have another safari ahead of us. Instead Edith explored
Livingston with Richard who we now know well from the other group. He is an American who has lived in Venzuela for 30
years. I decide to go to Zambabwe with Charlie. Zambabwe has recovered a lot from 2002 but it still is a depressed
ountry. I seen the falls there which is much better, lots more water, twice as wide and from there you can see the
Zambia side as well and I seen where we were the day before and you can see the gorge where the water flows out.
From Zambia you can not see the gorge well and can not see the Zambabwe side. I went to two large markets and for awhile
I WAS THAT ONLY TOURIST! I was just hounded to buy. Man did I get some nice stuff dirt cheap.I have a wood carved
bushman for $10 that should be $500. It was something else, I think I walked 10 miles and I could not find Charlie so
I was on my own. I walked back to the bridge and got there just at 3 pm when Daniel and Charlie were going to bungy jump.
I watched and took pictures as they dived off the bridge the 3rd highest bungy jump in the world. They came with in about
20 meters of the rocks and water. I was right there only about 15 feet from where they jumped and watched the whole
thing. Once the bungy stops them they come way back up and then go down again. This happens about 4 times but less of
and up down each time. I give it to them they had some guts. I climb towers as most of you know and the idea is to not
fall off so it really seems foreign to jump off. It is best to go head first as the bungy is tied to your legs. You can
go off backwards with a harness but that jerks you more at the end. I got my stuff across the borders and we shared a taxi
back. Edith though I had been killed in Zambabwe as she expected me much earlier! We watched the video of the whitewater
rafting that some of our group went on! WOW! I wish we would of had another day and I would of went. The rubber raft
turned over 4 times in 12 rapids and they all went in the water and floated through the rest of the rapids. It was some
The last morning was shopping and then the airport! The day before Edith and Richard tried to exchange some money on the
street as it is a real paper hassle at the exchange and of course it was a great rate. The police try and stop that.
Anyway when they got the money it was not the right amount so Richard said no deal and was getting his money back and
giving the guy his money back and he yelled police and quickly handed the money to Richard and ran. Richard put it in
his front pocket and looked around for the police but did not see any so they walked on and Richard went to put the money
into a different pocket and discovered he had a one rather that a twenty. He kept saying that guy ripped me off, I have
been all over the world in over 50 counties and I have not been ripped of in a long time but this guy got me. To top it
off Richard can do magic tricks with coins so he really had the natives going in the market place. Edith did not have a
dull day either and her and Richard split there $19 dollar lose. Richard went with us on the final morning to try and spot
the guy! We have a standing inviation to visit Venzuela!!!
We flew from Livingstone to Johannesburg and fortunately our ride from Word of Mouth Backpackers(WOM) was there. There is
lots of crime in J-burg as there is terrible proverty of 90 percent and the other 10 percent have lots of money. South
Africa is a first world nation and has lots of money but lots of poor. Our driver was a good tour guide. WOM and most
places has the razor barbwire, electric fence and iron fence with a locked gate. It is not nearly as bad in Pretoria where
we are at. As long as you don't carry valuables and it is daylight you should be OK. We walked to the grocery store and
| made a contact via the local repeater to N0ABE at Sioux Falls via an internet relay called IRLP and then to an amateur
station there so that was impressive standing in the yard of the hostel talking on my handheld HT to Sioux Falls, SD from
Pretoria South Africa. The other people at the hostel sure could not figure out how I could do this. Johan who has the
IRLP repeater and who I talked to before we left was on frequency and we had a nice visit and tomorrow he is going to
show us around Pretoria.
I had a bad eye infection that was swelled up and hurting for about 10 days but I am finally over it. It was a lot more
emotional than you would imagine saying good bye to our dutch friends in the airport but 24 days together in close contact
under pretty tough conditions does form bonds. Edith and I especially felt bonds with 4 people who went out of there way
to interpret for us and visit with us in English. It is a challenge to listen to nothing but dutch 99% OF THE TIME FOR 24
days so you really appreciate those who speak English with you. Most everyone could speak English but it is only human
nature that when they visit they automatically do it in Dutch. So to Susan, Suzanne, Daniel, and the two Martin's we really felt
appreciation toward them. Also Mike always tried to come over and visit with us in English and one night he made his
table speak in English all during our dinner so we could understand everything. Everyone was nice but these people were
especially special; along with Wendy whose English was not as good but she certainloy made up by being helpful to us!
Edith and I did a lot of work with the food and clean up beyond our turns.
I hope to make some more radio contacts from here, enjoy some rest and on Friday morning early we are off to Nariobi,
Kenya and Safari number 2. I apologize for typo's and spelling but given the cost and shakey internet it is the best
I can do. Remember the pictures that will be on the web site when I get back awhile as we have some great pictures.
I don't know if we can find any internet in Kenya or not so probably the final travelogue will be when we get home.
We do have things lined up for a short tour of Amsterdam, Netherlands thanks to info from our dutch friends.
Africa is a huge place but we certainly have a real feel for it being off the beaten path and among the locals a lot!
It obviously is physically demanding, so far in 25 days we have met exactly TWO AMERICANS who live in the USA
Ed and Edith