On Day 14 we crossed the border into Botswana and set up camp in Ghanzi where we visited some local San people. While they’re no longer able to live a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle, some of their knowledge and cultural traditions have been taught to the younger generations. We went on a bush walk with them and learned about the medicinal uses of the native plants. In the evening the group of San people put on a song and dance performance with surprisingly complex syncopation.
The next day we drove into Maun and set up camp while a portion of our group entered the Okavango Delta for a two-night add-on excursion. We had our chance to view the delta for a day trip on Day 16. We were transported into the delta by mokoro, navigating between the tall reeds and hippos. The locals also took us on a walk on one of the delta’s larger islands, only walk-able right now due to a recent period of drought.
Our group reunited on the morning of Day 17 and we drove to Nata to visit the Makgadikgadi (pronounced Mahadihadi) Salt Pans. The major sight here is the thousands of flamingos chilling in the shallow water. It turns out thousands of flamingos and their droppings smell really really bad, but it was an amazing view.
On Day 18 we visited Chobe National Park and saw more elephants than we’ve ever seen before. Botswana is home to the largest population of elephants in the world and many seem to enjoy hanging out and staying cool by the Chobe River. While visiting we happened to see in the news that Botswana lifted an elephant hunting ban that had been in place since 2014. The idea is to allow farmers and local citizens to hunt nuisance elephants that can destroy crops, but the change in legislation is also opening the door to poachers looking to harvest ivory.
In the late afternoon we took a cruise on the Chobe River and spotted a few more hippos and crocodiles.