My trip from Windhoek to Victoria Falls

This is a hut in a San Camp in Namibia.

NAMBOTSZIMZAM – No, this is not a foreign language, nor is this the name of a traditional African dish. It is, however, the travel itinerary of my second safari in Africa. I have been in Cape Town for quite some time already and my plan was to see as much as possible of Africa. I always wanted to visit Namibia again. I’ve been there already but still haven’t seen all there is to see. Besides Namibia, I wanted to also cross Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia off my bucket list. I was so keen on visiting Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and the mighty Victoria Falls.

I had previously joined a ´Wild Dog Safaris´ tour in October 2016. This time I choose a 9-day camping tour in January. The beginning of the year is probably the worst time to travel those countries. Why? Well, first of all, I started my trip from Cape Town.  January is high season and vacation time for South Africans. All the flights within Africa were super expensive. Secondly, in January it is rain and mosquito season. Even so, I decided to go for it and indeed I had a wonderful journey.

30 hours in a bus versus 2 hours of flying

Windhoek

Before this, I traveled from Cape Town to Windhoek/Namibia by bus. That was the longest bus ride ever! It took me 30 hours to get there. Even though it’s a long ride, it was actually ok because Intercape, the bus I was traveling with, is a Sleepliner and extremely comfortable. This time I choose the faster version, a 2-hour flight. My safari with Wild Dogs started in Windhoek and ended at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. After that, I wanted to visit friends that run a backpacker in Livingston in Zambia.


 

First Bushman/San I have met

Ghanzi/ Namibia


With 11 guests, cook Matthew as well as tour guide Ian we headed northeast via Gobabis to Ghanzi. I saw Bushman on TV but hadn’t met one yet. “Dquare Quare Lodge” was the first camp we stayed at. This Camp (San is the official classification for Bushman) is a celebration of San Culture. It was supposed to rain the entire night but instead of staying on the campsite, the camp owner Caua offered for us to stay in the rooms for free. Fortunately, the rain stopped the following day so we could go on a bush walk. Caua showed us plants and trees they eat and which they also use as treatments to kill the poison of snakes and scorpions. At the time, I was on that safari I stayed in a house in Cape Town. Our neighbors told me that especially on hot summer days we had to be aware of snakes as they can come into the house to escape the heat. I hate snakes!! Listening to Caua´s explanation of how to kill the poison of a snake almost made me offer him the couch of our house for a summertime stay! (…Just in case one of my housemates or myself would have got attacked by a snake in our house there would have been someone that would have been able to save us from dying of a snake bite! Fortunately, we never had one in our house.) Besides the snake bite first-aid Caua showed us how to read the tracks of animals and taught us how to start a fire in the bush without using a lighter and charcoal.

This is in a San Camp in Namibia. I went on a bushwalk with Caua and his wife.

The Everglades of Botswana

Okavang Delta/ Botswana


The Okavango Delta is situated north of Botswana and is a very large and swampy inland delta and one of the most incredible wilderness sanctuaries in Africa. In fact, you can compare the Okavango Delta with the Everglades in Florida as you can also find more dangerous animals like hippos and crocodiles in the Delta. However, it is insanely beautiful and a nature lovers heaven.

This captures our way to Guma Lagoon Campside at Okavanga Delta in Botswana.

Our Camp we stayed for the night, Guma Lagoon Campsite, is situated on the banks of the Guma Lagoon on the north-western side of the Okavango Delta. The day we got there it rained cats and dogs. I am not joking. The rain started at 4 p.m. and would only stop at 6 a.m. the following day. Seriously, I haven’t experienced floods like this before. Keep in mind: we camped. I am still surprised that we did not wake up in another camp the following day or next to a hippo or crocodile on the water of Okavango Delta. 

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A must do activity is to explore the swampy inland delta by boat. By motor boat, we traveled deep into the Okavango Delta. We then switched to the traditional Mokoro. This is a wooden boat that can carry 3 people, 2 guests and one guy that pushes the boat forward with a long pole. It was so peaceful, tranquil and relaxing out there. The water was covered with waterlilies. The only things we listened to were the sounds of nature. We spend the entire morning on the water and also watched crocodiles and hippos. Thanks to our boat driver, he did an amazing job and propelled us safely through the water.

This is a Mokoro, a traditional boat you can go on a ride on a ride on the water of Okavanga Delta in Botswana.

A night in Prison

Caprivi Stripe/ Namibia


From Okavanga Delta we headed back to Namibia. In order to reach our next camp, we drove along the Caprivi Stripe. Caprivi Stripe is a small stripe that connects Namibia with Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Back in the days, this part didn’t belong to Namibia. The British gave it back to the Germans in exchange for Zanzibar.

After a game drive and tasty lunch, the police stopped us. None of the safari group members noticed the police and the entire group assumed we were having a break so we took off our seatbelts. A few seconds later a police officer entered the bus blaming us for not wearing our seatbelts. We started arguing with him that we just took them off but that annoyed him even more.  The deal he then offered us was hilarious. We had to either pay N$ 1000 each right now or we would spend the night in prison. Fortunately, we convinced him to let us pass. We continued our trip and stopped at Kwando Camp in Kwando for the night. The upcoming day we visited a traditional village. 

This is a traditional village in Namibia. The medicine man did a traditional dance for us. While he danced he fell into trance. In order to wake him up the woman of the village emptied a basket full of cold water over his head.

The most interesting thing I learned that day was the way they protect themselves from wild animals, like Elephants. Whenever you are planning to spend a night in nature and you are afraid of getting attacked by wild animals this is all you have to do: just mix elephant dung with chili powder, put it in a circle around you and light it. Done! You are safe for at least 6 hours. 

Tourradar

A tumble dryer, please!

Chobe National Park

I explained to you already that the beginning of the year isn’t the best time to join this safari but I found at the end of the day,  this time of the year might just be perfect. In fact, you can only benefit by traveling at the beginning of the year. Why? Well, you barely have tourists so it’s the perfect time to relax. As it is still hot and humid, I loved being refreshed by rain. Besides that we got offers to stay in rooms instead of camping without paying more. What is a bit of a problem though is drying your towels and washing as not every camp has a laundry service but even for that we had a solution. We came up with this amazing idea of creating a tumble dryer out of our overland truck. By opening all windows and hanging wet laundry out of the windows you actually received better and faster results than with a tumble dryer. I have to admit the people we passed were a bit confused due to the underwear, towels and bikinis hanging out of the windows but we didn’t care.

This is our overland truck on our safari in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. We created a tumble dryer out of our bus by hanging the wet laundry out of the window.

With dry clothing, we headed back to Botswana stopping at Kansani. The camp we stayed at, Chobe Safari Camp, is located on the Chobe River and about 5 minutes away from the Chobe National Park, the most well known National Park in Botswana. On our way from the border of Namibia to the camp, I felt like I was on a safari already. Sometimes herds of elephants blocked the roads. It was impressive seeing those heavy creatures walking in front of our bus.

The Ugly 5

Chobe National Park

On our 6th day, we were scheduled for a morning game drive in Chobe National Park as well as an afternoon game cruise. What was different to my previous game drives in Kruger was the landscape. I haven’t seen Africa that green. Everything was beautiful green due to the rain season.

This is in Chobe National Park in Botswana.

The downside is that it’s really difficult to spot animals as the conditions are perfect for them to hide. At least the Ugly Five didn´t hide that day. I am pretty sure you have heard of the Big Five- Rhino, Elephant, Lion, Buffalo and Leopard. The less beautiful animals are called the Ugly Five. These are Warthog, Baboons, Hyena, Vulture and Marabou Stork. Sorry guys but seriously you are no beauties at all!
In the afternoon we went on a boat safari. With a boat that carried about 50 people, we floated along the coastline watching elephants bathing and crocodiles relaxing. We saw a variety of birds, something Botswana is actually well known for. For me, boat safaris are the best as there is no way of getting super close to crocodiles, buffalos and hippos without being afraid of getting attacked by them. If you have the chance of going on a boat safari – do it!

 This is a hippo I saw on a boats safari in Chobe National Park.

Suddenly engaged

Mosi- Oa-Tunya: The Smoke that Thunders – Victoria Falls/ Zimbabwe

Finally, it was time to see the mighty Victoria Falls. From Kansani it took us only one more hour to reach our camp in Victoria Falls City: Victoria Falls Rest Camp and Lodges in Zimbabwe. The entrance of Victoria Falls National Park and the bridge that leads to Zambia is within 10 minutes of walking. To be honest, the entire city is really touristic. For those who have never heard of Victoria Falls before, it is a mighty waterfall on the Zambesi River. It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world and UNESCO World HERITAGE. More tips about Victoria Falls you are going to read here. We spent about 4 hours in the national park to check out the waterfall from all of the 15 lookouts. Fortunately, it was not raining and the waterfall was full of water – another advantage of doing this trip in January.

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These are the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

After that, we visited the local craft center. This market consists of about 30 shops selling craft made of wood, stone and everything else you can think of. They make impressive art. I would have loved to buy everything but it is so difficult to carry that home with you. One of the shop owners was into me! The conversation he started ended in proposing to me in front of my group. I refused and tried to get out of there as fast as possible – believe me I have never been that quick. 

First border cross by foot

Exploring Livingston

That evening we had a farewell dinner. Half of the people in my group spent another day at Victoria Falls City as there is so much to do at the Falls (White Water Rafting, Bungee Jumping, Devils Pools…). I planned to walk to Zambia. In fact, that was my first border crossed by foot. I was super excited. Victoria Falls City/ Zimbabwe and Livingston/ Zambia are connected by a bridge. You can easily cross it. On my way, a few more guys tried to propose to me again but all of them were super friendly and polite. On the Zambian side, my friends from “Livingston Backpackers” were already waiting for me and I spent another 4 nights in their great backpackers.

This is at the hostel Livingston Backpackers in Livingston, Zambia.

Would you like to visit Victoria Falls? Here you are going to find all the information and tips you need to know in advance.

Have you been on a safari in Africa before? Let me know in the comments!

Here you can find my video with more impressions of my trip:

It stands since January 2017.

Would you like to read and see more about my Africa trips? Here we go!

 

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