Journey to Botswana

As Botswana is the least densely populated country on the planet, it is immediately apparent after crossing the border to leave South Africa that we are in a different place. Where all wildlife in South Africa is enclosed in national parks, in Botswana the wildlife roams free. We pass signs warning of elephants crossing, and warthogs graze on the side of the road as we navigate the numerous potholes on the way to Francistown. We drive through open fields, rarely passing a person, house, gas station, or restaurant. In Botswana, the cattle outnumber the inhabitants three to one, and we occasionally have to stop for cows, goats, donkeys, or even baboons to cross the road. The people we do pass are camped out in the grassy fields, cutting the tall native grasses to use for thatched roofs or fencing.

During our travels through Botswana, we often had to stop to allow animals such as elephants, warthogs, or baboons to cross the street.

During our travels through Botswana, we often had to stop to allow animals such as elephants, warthogs, or baboons to cross the street.

Warthogs walk on their elbows when feeding.

A common sight when traveling in Southern Africa, warthogs feed on the roadside, resting on their elbows to reach the grass.

The climate in Botswana is very dry, as most of the country is made up of the Kalahari Desert. There local currency is called the Pula, which means rain in the native language of Setswana. Water is valuable here, and hard to come by in some communities. Many of the houses we pass have large tanks of water on their roofs, which must be refilled frequently at public water pumps provided by the government.

In rural Botswana, individuals must fill large water tanks at local government pumps in order to have water in their homes.  Electricity is generated using kerosene generators or solar panels, and luxuries such as hot water, flushing toilets, or central heating are non-existent.

In rural Botswana, individuals must fill large water tanks at local government pumps in order to have water in their homes. Electricity is generated using kerosene generators or solar panels, and luxuries such as hot water, flushing toilets, or central heating are non-existent.

We drive most of the day before reaching our destination – the Elephant Sands Safari Lodge. The sun is getting ready to set as we pull up, and before getting settled in we head to the center of the lodge, a natural watering hole, to see if any wildlife have come to drink. Four wild elephants stand in the center of a collection of small wooden huts where we will be spending the next two nights. Guests at the lodge are standing in silence as we listen to the elephants slurp up the water with their trunks. We all grab a drink and sit and watch the elephants until they slowly walk just past our cabins back into the bush.

Wild elephants were gathered at the watering hole when we arrived at our lodge, just in time to watch the sun set.

Wild elephants were gathered at the watering hole when we arrived at our lodge, just in time to watch the sun set.

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This entry was published on July 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm and is filed under Fund for Teachers Fellowship - Southern Africa. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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