Botswana is not known to be a backpackers destination – it is where rich people go on exclusive safaris in places that can only be reached by helicopter, eating 5-course gourmet meals while watching the orange African sun set over the delta. And I guess this is all nice if you have the money – but I certainly do not travel that way. Still Botswana was on my way to Southafrica so I thought why not give it a try? Ultimately heading to Afrikaburn in the end of April I couldn’t enter Southafrica too early anyways or I’d run into visa troubles.
After months of doing workaway I was excited to be on the road again and to my surprise Botswana didn’t turn out to be much more expensive then Namibia (that is if you have a tent). Often the cheapest campsites belonged to high end lodges and made me feel like I snuck into some rich peoples club with my worn out shoes, dusty hat and stained T-shirt. Eating out or even just having a beer at these places, where a drink costs the equivalent of one night in the tent was out of the question, but fortunately I found other travelers to share two minute noodle and canned bean meals with in many places.
Two weeks went by quickly. In Chobe National Park I decided to go on my last big game drive, saw herds of impala, hippos, elephants and jackals and experienced the most incredible river sunsets. I Gweta I chilled underneath the massive baobab trees at my favourite campsite Planet Baobab and met a bunch of amazing people to share beers with at their funky bar. In Maun the Old Bridge Backpackers kept me for days while I learned how to weave baskets, treated myself with a scenic flight and explored the Okavango Delta on a Mokoro (wooden boat). I even made it to the ancient San paintings hiking through the colourful Tsodilo Hills.
Getting around was easier than expected as the bus system worked like a charm and many tourists, like the group of German couples in 18 (!) massive rental campervans happily gave me a lift. Although I sometimes had to search a bit for people to join me on cheap boat tours and hiking trips I managed to see and do everything I wanted in the end.
Looking back at two weeks in Bots, as many locals call it lovingly, I had a great start of getting on the road again and met some fantastic travelers. But I have to admit that (as with Namibia) I didn’t get overly attached to the country. I felt like I was still moving in a tourist bubble that was difficult to get out of and none of the villages or cities seemed particularly interesting to me. This however should change soon as I headed into Zimbabwe next – but more about that in a future post…