I’m sitting in a rusty camp chair, my feet propped up on the back bumper of our trusty 4×4. To my left, a pair of banded mongooses roll and wrestle across the sand; to my right, a red-billed hornbill is calling out from his perch on the branch of a jackalberry tree. The mid-afternoon sun is baking down hard; this is the sleepy time of day for most wildlife in Chobe National Park. Even the lions, camped out just one kilometre from our camp, have stopped their constant mating to sleep off the hottest hours.
Today is the eleventh day of our 17-day journey, and I’m already wishing we had organised a 30-day trip. Despite the (rare) occasional desire to know what’s going on in the outside world, I have absolutely relished the remoteness, the disconnectedness, the wildness of this journey.
We have decided to call this our Botswana Honeymoon, the African Honeymoon, our 4×4 Honeymoon 1.0 (in August we will set out for 4×4 Honeymoon 2.0 – a two week overland adventure in Iceland – stay tuned for a new blog on that journey). My mother always comments on our many adventures, and how we have had more ‘honeymoons’ than most couples vacation in their lifetime. I agree with that observation! I also believe a life well traveled is a life well lived. Per the mantra of one of my favourite travel quotes, “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled” (Mohamed).
We pour love into every trip we take together; 11 days spent sitting in the cab of our 4×4; 11 nights in a cozy rooftop tent; it has brought us closer together than we were two weeks ago. Friends and family have joked that, if we can survive spending 17 days in such close quarters then our marriage will certainly stand the test of time. If anything, it has us considering the amazing life we would live if we just sold everything, bought a van and started a worldwide overland trip…
When we are back in Johannesburg next week, I’ll write posts reflecting on each day of our journey. But I would like to provide a brief glimpse at some of what we have done so far:
- Successfully tracked and followed a lioness through Savuti, in Chobe National Park
- Drove through herds of hundreds of game animals, including impala, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, wildebeest and more
- Had dinner interrupted by an African civet walking through camp, investigating the bushes two metres from our table
- Took a mokoro (narrow kayak-type boat) trip through the Okavango
- Witnessed herds of dozens of elephants, walking through the forests, pushing down trees, splashing in ponds and rivers
- Drove across over 2,000 kilometres of (mostly) 4×4, muddy, sandy and challenging tracks
- Lay in our tent at night listening to the sounds of leopard, lion and elephant roaring and trumpeting in the (not so far off) distance
- Photographed dozens of species of rare and endangered animals, including many birds we had never seen before
- Successfully navigated river crossings (including one time when Ricky had to wade out into the water to find a ‘safe’ path)
- Awoke each morning before the sun to witness the epic African sunrises, spreading oranges, yellows, purples and blues across clouds over savannahs and grasslands
I close my eyes, lean back in my camp chair and daydream about the adventures we have had so far, and am jolted to life by the sudden roar of a male lion, and the rapid response from his mate. They’ve awoken from their mid-afternoon slumber to continue copulating (they do so around 4-6 times an hour for days at a time). That means it’s time to get ready for our evening game drive. We’ll stop by to wish the lions luck in their endeavour, then we are off to search for wild dog!