MESSAGE Botswana *Videos*

While camping out in the Okavango Delta, we were serenaded by our polers: the locals who propelled us through the waterways in traditional mokoro canoes.

After dinner, this small group of about 15 performed some traditional songs for us. One of the songs had a haunting refrain: Be–UUUUUUU–ti-ful Bots-wanaaaa, Bots-wanaaaa…

Whenever I think of this lovely country, and the Okavango Delta in particular, I hear this heart-felt choir. Which is cool, as long as it stays in my head, and I don’t start singing it aloud. It’s a rather boisterous rendition!

Here’re the 7 reasons why Botswana is so beautiful:

MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Chobe River Cruise. Hands down, the best place for a sundowner is while chilling on Chobe River. We all kicked back during our sunset safari, where we got to see elephants and hippos (and crocs and monkeys) from an up-close waterfront vantage.

And it was a good thing we got so close, given our eyesight was slightly blurred by Jay’s Green Grog (aka the Green Death). This self-concocted cocktail comprised 2 bottles of white rum, 2 bottles of light cane vodka, ½ pouch of white wine, 1 bag of Mojito mix, 2 bottles of soda water, 1 bottle of 7-Up, and 2 bags of ice. Yikes!

EAT (Tasty Eats) – Nshima. Nshima is a maize porridge that is eaten throughout Southern Africa (although known by different local names). Basically locally grown grain is pounded to create a flour, that is then turned into a thick paste. It tastes a lot like grits (and its probably where our America southern specialty is derived from). You eat it with everything – beans, vegetables, and sometimes chicken.

SEE (Must-see Sights) –Chobe National Park. On our early morning expedition, we got to see rhinos and hippos – and a cheetah (but far off in the distance) – for the first time on this safari!

The impressive Chobe River added an inviting element to wildness watching. It was a cool backdrop in which to see the animals, not just on land, but more in their natural water environment. While Namibia’s Etosha may still be my favorite, I think Chobe offered a fabulous compliment to game viewing and a must-see while in Botswana.

SHOP (Gotta Have) – Reed Bracelets. While hanging out at the Okavango campsite, we girls did a little shopping. One of our polers was selling hand-woven reed bracelets and baskets, so we picked up a few at about $3 each.

What I dig about the bracelets was that we were supporting the local women directly. I know because I saw an older woman, sitting in the shade of a tree, weaving as we passed by on our safari truck. I gave her a shout, a thumbs-up sign, and dangled my new bracelets for her to see – bracelets she was patiently plaiting. Love it!

ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) –Mokoro Ride. No, truly – one of my all-time favorite activities! The gliding of the hand-carved canoe, through the delta reeds was mesmerizing — I could’ve floated around all day!

Just check out this video of our Okavango Delta drift:

Can’t see this video? Click on this link: Erin in Mokoro

GIVE (Greatest Need) – Rhinos! Rhinos – baby ones in particular – are so cute! There are two types of rhinos: black and white. But actually they’re both grey in color. The Dutch were saying “wide” rhinos in reference to their lips, which got misinterpreted as “white.”

Here’re some of the differences between the two:

White (Broad-mouthed) Rhinos:

  • have a square lip
  • are larger than black rhinos
  • head faces down, so it can easily feed on grass
  • gather in groups
  • babies run in front of the mother, who uses her horn to direct her calf by tapping it in the rear

Black (Hooked-lip) Rhinos:

  • have a small hooked-shaped mouth
  • are smaller than white rhinos (a male bull weights about 1,000 kg)
  • head faces up, so it can easily feed on shrubs
  • are solitary and more aggressive
  • babies run in back of the mother, who cuts a path for her calf

There are less than 25,000 rhinos remaining in the wild. Want to help save the rhinos? Check out our current Donate my Dollars poll and vote for them!

ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Okavango Delta by Helicopter. While traveling you have to pick and choose your splurges, but I decided that a helicopter ride above the Okavango Delta would be worth it. And I was right!

Our helicopter flew from about 500 feet to as low as 50 feet above the swamp, swopping down for us to see the animals from a bird’s eye view, including bull elephants grazing and herds of zebra and giraffe.

It was a particularly cool way to experience the delta from the sky, after having been in the weeds (literally!) the previous 2 days. The heli ride rounded out my Okavango experience and gave me an appreciation for the vastness and diversity of the delta waters. Just see for yourself!

Can’t see this video? Click on this link: Okavango Delta by Helicopter

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 and is filed under Africa, Messages by Country.

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