Heading North

After helping out with the Caracal research in the Winterberg, I spent a good three days traveling by bus to get to my next destination, northern Botswana. I had been in contact with a safari company in the Okavango Delta that has an environmental division which conducts a number of research projects in the Delta, and I finally had the opportunity to come up and volunteer with them. The bus ride was grueling, but the thought of working in the Delta was too good to pass up. After about three bus transfers and 30 hours of cruising, things were going pretty smooth, but it was really that last 10 hour stretch from Gabarone to Maun (southern to northern Botswana) that were killer. The temperature rose immensely from a cool 28 degrees C to a blazing 42 degrees C as we crossed through the Kalahari desert on a bus packed with twice as many people as it was certified to carry. Not only that, but farmers in this region regularly graze their cattle, sheep, and donkeys on the side of highways thus making the journey take twice as long as it should because we constantly stopped for the lazy animals that would take their mid-day siesta in the middle of the road. Despite the heat and slow going, it was a very interesting experience for me. First of all, it was the first time I felt that I was in 'real' Africa. Despite being a third world country, South Africa is very modern and industrialized while Botswana is still very much what I would consider a true third world country. People still live in mud-huts, water is very scarce so the populations are very low, and overall there is little in the way of industrialization in the country. I was amazed and pleased, however, to discover that everyone is extremely friendly around here and that Botswana is actually one of the safest African countries. It was also fascinating to see the landscape in Botswana, which is much drier and hotter than in South Africa. In fact, we passed through one region where tornado-like cyclones are absolutely everywhere and stretch up to 500 feet in the air. It was fascinating to see five or ten of these giant dust cyclones off in the distance, and a few times our bus even drove through them! It was amazing when we hit them, the entire bus shook violently and it was almost like smashing into a wall of water for a brief second as we rattled and jangled around. Admittedly my heart was racing pretty fast as we passed through these, but others around me were pretty nonchalant about the whole situation, obviously having travelled this road before...

So far I have had a great experience here and am really looking forward to spending more time in this amazing country. I just arrived so unfortunately I don't have any terribly exciting news as of now, but I will make sure to provide updates as often as I can.