Vomit rocket over the Delta

Gweta, Botswana

We saw another family of giraffes as well as an elephant on this morning’s wildlife walk. The timidity of the former and dangerousness of the latter prevented us from getting closer than a couple of hundred feet though.

Back at camp, everything was packed up and we loaded the mokoros with our gear. It was a relaxing ride to our 4×4 transfer; we snoozed most of the way. The hot water showers at Sitatunga were much welcomed; just as quickly as we arrived, we were leaving again though, this time for Maun’s airport.

Twelve of us had signed up for a scenic flight over the Delta with Mack Air. On the tarmac, we hopped into a Gippsland GA8 Airvan. It was a tiny seven seater. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

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The first half hour of the flight was fantastic. From just 500 feet high, we spotted herds of elephants bathing at water holes and hippos lazing around.

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From above, we were also able to get a real sense of just how large this flood plain is — literally, for as far as the eye could see.

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But then suddenly, a wave of nausea. A large lunch, bumpy ride, confined space, baking sun and eye glued to my camera hit me like a ton of bricks. Sweat started pouring down my back and my fingers tingled. “Are you okay?” my seat mate asked. Barf bag in hand, I whispered, “No.”

Ten minutes later, music to my ears. “I can see the airport,” she said. I’d be able to keep it together for that much longer — but barely.

Back in the truck it was a 200 kilometer drive east to Gweta. We passed through the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, the remains of what was once one of the largest lakes in Southern Africa. Today, it’s the largest salt dry flat in the world.

When we saw the giant anteater, we knew we had arrived at Planet Baobab, a quirky campsite and hotel midway between Maun and Kasane.

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Planet Baobab is named for the gigantic baobab trees that line the property. The average age of these beasts is 4,000 years old. Given the two-night bush camping experience and my unhappy scenic flight experience, it seemed only fair to upgrade myself to a room. The hut had an en suite bathroom and comfortable bed. It would be nice to sleep without a sleeping bag.

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We had a chicken stew back at the camp before heading to Baobab’s funky “Afro-centric” bar. It was nicely decorated and served up ice cold beers at a pretty reasonable price. After a slight disagreement with our tour leader over the wake-up time, we returned to our hut for bed.

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It’s safe to say the sheets felt like 600 thread count.

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