Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bush Camping

we camped our way through Botswana, for most of the two week adventure, but the three nights we spent in the bush were unlike any other! 

we were so remote that we had to drive for a few hours in safari jeeps, plus ride for 2 hours in shallow wooden dugouts just to make it to our camp site! And by campsite I mean a wild area just off the Okavango Delta waters. There were no "amenities" , so we carried in all of our gear. Which meant that space was at a premium, so I fit everything I needed for 3 nights into my tiny camelback and then carried a 5L jug of clean water (priorities!) and our tent. 


we peed in holes, waded through mud, adventured through tall grasses, and climbed trees to watch the approaching savannah thunderstorms. It was all so glorious, I nearly cried. 

I kept on looking out over the horizon in disbelief that a) it was so flat! I could see for hundreds of miles and b) that there was no sign of human civilization. The okovango delta truly is one of the last wild places left. Even thinking about it now makes my heart soar. 

I have had the pictures for this post uploaded for the last week, but I almost didn't publish this post..  none of these photos come even close to reflecting how special this place is and that really bothers me!  I wish that I could've better captured the spirit of this place, but maybe it is one of those things that isn't meant to be captured in a photo (Walter Mitty  "ghost cat"reference anyone!?)  

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we did a lot of animal tracking while in the bush (with our trusty guides, of course!) mostly at sunrise and late afternoon, when the animals are most active. one morning, we woke up before sunrise and spent the next five hours in small groups exploring the savannah! We found the skull of a hippo, lots of tracks, lots of birds + small animals, and a huge herd of zebras with a dozen giraffes nearby. It was incredible.

there were no paths to follow, at times we had to take off our shoes and walk through thigh deep mud or quietly crouch in the grass. That first afternoon we went exploring the grasses were swaying like the ocean swells as a huge storm blew in. The sun was still bright but the black clouds were rapidly rolling in. The air was electric, the grass was soft, as the light patter of rain began.. I have never felt so alive.
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I also have never felt so clearly that I am a guest of the wild, not there to tame it. Before we went into the bush area our guides gave us a very serious lecture about safety. "There is no time to think, you just have to react. If I say run, don't question me. If I say climb a tree, you do it. If you don't, if you hesitate, you might be dead." And they meant it too. This wasn't just something to scare us into behaving. Two nights I woke up to the sound of lions, hyenas would roam through our camp at night, the poisonous snakes and scorpions were the least of our concerns. Let's just say that you didn't leave your tent at night unless you reallly realllllllyyyyy had to. and even then, you always acted with extreme caution and took a buddy.
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We often ventured through plants that were nearly as tall as us. This particular variety of grass was my favorite. It is so unbelieveably soft that I took to mentally calling it "the cashmere plant". I spent most of our walking hours with my hands outstretched, letting the grass gently sweep over my palms as I walked by.

I was excited to continue our adventure, but part of me never wanted to leave this place. I hope that I will always remember how it felt to live in the wild. This is going to sound very hippy-dippy but, reconnecting with nature was exactly what  I needed at that moment. To rise with the sun, explore natures beauty and then fall to sleep enveloped by the noises of the wild. Yes, the danger was real. I am happy to report though that we all were respectful/smart and we all survived.

Personally I would extrapolate that statement even further, I didn't just survive, I thrived!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds perfect! I've been wanting to visit Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia for all the reasons you said. There aren't very many untouched places left and I'd definitely love to experience that!