Planet Baobab

Trip Start Jul 25, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Botswana  ,
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The next morning, I packed up and headed out. Once reaching town I was told that all the buses to Nata had left around 6 am. I walked over to Spar, cut up a box, borrowed a marker and made a sign that said "Maun". I got a lift to the hitching place outside Kasane and took my place with other Botswana's all waiting for an elusive lift to anywhere but here.

After about 45 minutes (and a lot of bemused looks from Africans on seeing a white man hitching), a small pickup truck pulled up. A number of people piled into the back, and after negotiating a fee with the driver, I did too. As we rolled out of Kasane, a giraffe stood on the side of the road, munching away on a tree. A family of about eight elephants walked along a ridge in the distance. Have I mentioned I love Africa?

For three hundred kilometers I sat in the back of the pickup, trying not to bounce out of the back when we hit the occasional pothole. The sun shone mercilessly on a sky completely devoid of cloud. The landscape was dry, sparse, and flat. It stretched on and never seemed to end. The sky was enormous, and I felt its presence like I never have before. When I finally arrived in Nata my face and arms were a cherry plum red and I nearly fell getting out of the truck, so stiff was my body.

Nata is simply a crossroads. The road continues south to Francistown, or west towards Maun and the huge salt pans that dominate this area. After a quick bite to eat and drink, I headed out to the side of the road and lifted my sign once again. An overland van filled with young backpackers passed me, the driver waving at me while the seat beside him sat empty. Have I mentioned my feelings towards overland trucks before?

Finally I was picked up by a gregarious Botswanan business man in a pickup truck. We cruised across the searing hot pans in glorious air conditioning. Along the way we passed the overland truck from before and I took a small, but substantial, pleasure in this. Call me petty.

Finally I spotted a giant 20 foot tall aardvark along the side of the road. Far from a road induced hallucination, it marked the entrance to a place called Planet Baobab, my destination for the day. After I took a photo of the aardvark, I hoisted my bag onto my shoulder and prepared for the sticky one kilometer walk into the bush to reach the camp. Just as I started to walk, a van full of German tourists on safari pulled up and offered me a lift into the camp. I gratefully accepted.

Planet Baobab is a camp set back in the vast salt pans that make up this part of northern Botswana. During the day, the temperature soars as the heat bakes the ground. The landscape is sparse and has mostly scrub vegetation. What makes Planet Baobab special are the 17 huge baobab trees scattered around the site. Baobab trees have enormous trunks and iconic of this part of Africa. The camp is a mix of traditional grass huts ranging up to luxurious cottages. I camped.

The bar is quirkily decorated and the entire vibe is one of relaxation. Incongruously, a huge swimming pool sits out under the sun filled with some of the coldest water I have felt in Africa. Old photos and posters of cheesy Hollywood movies set in Africa in the '40's and '50's line the walls. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth a stop.

The next morning, the German group very graciously offered me a ride into Maun. They even drove quite far out of their way to drive me to my current home - the Old Bridge Backpackers. Their kindness, and all the kindness of strangers shown to me on the road, is one of the reasons I love this trip. It would also be a hell of lot more difficult without these small favours.
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Comments

jarostrath
jarostrath on

A little jealous
DJ

I write this from North Scotland, despite it being summer it is still pretty cold! I found your Blog totally by accident as it was referenced in the Zimbabwesituation.com website. Really interested in your trip I have done a couple of the legs myself. Especially the Zimbabwe and Botswana ones. You seem to have the knack of getting the best out of the situations you find youself in, that is a pretty rare talent. Continue to enjoy the experience as you clearly are and then become a travel writer, I reckon you have the knack for it.
Always a spare room and a wee dram available for travel weary Canadians at my house in North Scotland (when they are passing!)
Cheers Julian Harrop

andy6892055
andy6892055 on

U coming to Cape Town?
DJ, also stumbled over this blog via zimbabwesituation.com. Are you going to get to Cape Town? If so, send me a message to andy6892055@hotmail.com

Andrew Scott

djchurch
djchurch on

Re: A little jealous
Thanks Julian,

Sorry, this is a quick reply, internet is scarce and a fortune here in Namibia, but wanted to thank you. As coming from strong Scottish stock on my mother's side, and growing in Nova Scotia (New Scotland), I've a warm place in my heart for the highlands. Was there once, loved it, and will come again with any luck. If I'm in the area, I'll take you up on the offer of a wee dram.

Cheers,
DJ

caringmomma
caringmomma on

Nova Scotia Scotland and Africa
now I am jealous of my son..traveling all the way and still conencting with places I want to go.Look out world because DJ maybe got his desire to travel the world from his Mom..Germany next then Scotland and Ireland.. as now know my heritage a bit more better

happy you are loving that area and loving the photos.

Mom

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