Last Thursday, I said goodbye to my host family and departed for our group’s final trip to the Okavango Delta. The night before I left, I had a heart to heart with my host mom, perhaps the longest conversation we’ve ever had. She asked me all about my experience, the good and the bad, and asked me to teach my friends and family that African people are just like everyone else. In her words, “we aren’t monsters.” Though my home stay experience hasn’t been perfect, our conversation was a reminder that I am thankful I chose to do a home stay because of all the things I have learned.
We left Gabs around 4am for the 12-hour bus ride. We had a large coach bus, so the ride was surprisingly quick and comfortable. We stayed the first in Maun at a lodge and then departed Friday morning for the bush. We stayed in Moremi, an area right outside the delta. The landscape was surprisingly green! When we arrived, the staff had already set up our tents and the rest of the campsite. The toilets were essentially holes in the ground with a toilet seat above. Because of the rain and the natural passage of time, they became extremely messy and most of us ended up preferring just finding a spot in the woods. Never thought you’d hear me say that, did you? We had bucket showers, but barely any water, so most of us decided to just go without. I’ve never felt so dirty in my life, but I guess that’s part of the true camping experience. The camp staff prepared our meals on the fire and we all gathered together to eat. The meals were diverse and pretty delicious! Though I still can’t say camping is my favorite activity, the staff took great care of us and it wasn’t nearly as awful as I’d imagined.
Each day, we took two game drives- one at 6am and one at 4pm. Our group split into three safari trucks. My group’s guide, Clinton, was an awesome guy and he definitely made the experience extremely enjoyable. Over the three days, we saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, leopards, lions, and wild dogs. Plus the smaller animals like impala, kudu, warthogs, mongooses, and tortoises. It was insane seeing these animals so close up! I’m talking a few feet away in some instances. Clinton taught us all about the animals and was very patient with our questions. My favorite part was seeing the hunting. It was adrenaline rushing! We saw the wild dogs hunt impala and we saw lions hunt a baby warthog. It was actually pretty sad and I couldn’t control tears from coming to my eyes. If you’re not too grossed out, you’ll have to check out my pictures! Though I eventually got a little tired of the game drives, I enjoyed cruising around the area, following tracks, and trying to spot the animals. Plus I just enjoyed being with my friends, laughing and witnessing some of the coolest things.
One day, we did a mokoro boat activity in little canoe-like boats. We were in super shallow water, so it was mostly just relaxing. However, a few minutes into the activity, it started raining so we had to cut it short. That was a bummer! On the way back to camp, we got soaked. The whole time we were in the delta, it was rainy and chilly. There was so much mud our safari truck got stuck. I’d rather it be that way than unbearably hot like we expected though. In the rest of our free time, we played cards and did a lot of napping. Waking up at 5 am was incredibly exhausting! The last day, we took a low scenic flight back to Maun. I was a little nervous because the plane was so tiny, but the flight was smooth and enjoyable. That night, our group dressed up for a fancy dinner at a nearby lodge. It was a great ending to a wonderful trip. I’m incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to go to the delta. While I wasn’t too upset to leave because of the whole camping aspect, I really enjoyed my time there and I was able to see things in wildlife most people will never encounter. I got to spend my last week in Botswana with my friends and that’s all I could have asked for.