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Self Drive through Botswana

Part 1 Time to camp

In January 2021, my wife Kirsten and I were lucky enough to go on a Self Drive Botswana safari with Chobe4X4. It was supposed to be in October 2020 but Covid. Then it was supposed to be in November but Covid. Then December but…you get the idea. As time passed, so did the dry season. The rains came and turned Botswana from a dust bowl into a water-soaked, green wonderland.

Self Drive Botswana

At the outset, I must state that neither Kirsten nor I could be considered camping geniuses. We are much more camping idiots. The first time we decided to go camping in the Kgalagadi, the reactions from our families ranged from roll-on-the-floor mirth to incredulity. It wasn’t that they feared for our safety – I had decades of bush experience. It was the practical side of things – making fires, fixing engines, tinkering with catches, organising bush showers, etc. You see, I am the sort of person who, when my car breaks down, climbs out to open the bonnet in the full knowledge that my ability to fathom the workings of the internal combustion engine is about as good as my ability to perform cranial surgery (I am not a surgeon by the way). Next to Kirsten, however, I’m a Formula 1 mechanic. I have never been to an outdoor camping shop or trawled the online forums by the plethora of camping/self-drive aficionados that contribute to them.

The upshot of all this is that when the two of us go camping, as we have done a few times in the last year, it is always with a slight sense of trepidation about whether or not we will return. Like I say, it is not being in the wild that worries us, it is the fact that our mechanical ignorance and ‘fix it inability is so complete.

Flying in for our Self Drive Botswana

On the 15th of January, we landed in Maun. Some people speak with great affection for the little town. I am not one. I have been there many times and each time searched for the charm and each time found it lacking in the dust and donkeys. This time, however, there wasn’t a dust mote to be found. It was the middle of a particularly wet, wet season and Maun looked like the Cotswolds – well not quite but it was lovely. Mopane trees in full leaf, grass taller than the people and skies a constantly changing arrangement of grey, pregnant clouds interspersed with blue African sky.

… To be continued.