THE CHALLENGES OF OUR BOTSWANA SAFARI

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Everything in Nature is in balance – so too was our Botswanan adventure.  In the first blog I waxed lyrical about the joy, peacefulness and calmness we experienced.  This is the other side of the proverbial coin. 

Our initial challenge was water crossings, the first of which was on the road between Nata and Maun. A huge expanse of water (more than 2km long) faced us – we couldn’t see to the other side of it.  The road had washed away.  The water was half way up the car doors.  It was impossible to know what line to take and terrifying when, well into the crossing, we had huge trucks heading straight for us travelling in the opposite direction!  We all thankfully reached the other side with eyes as big as dinner plates.  It had been a water baptism with a difference for our German friends who were experiencing their first Botswana Safari.

Water crossings occurred frequently thereafter.  It’s usually good practise to first walk through the water to gauge depth and any potholes etc. and at the same time being aware of the presence of hippo and crocs.  This had not been possible with the first crossing.

On our first day out traversing in the park, we returned to total devastation of the interior of the two caravans – a baboon raid had occurred in our absence. Our friends’  hired caravan had had the grocery cupboard door ripped off, all the foodstuffs ripped open and puddles of baboon urine was everywhere!  In our caravan, they had ripped open the stitching around a canvas window.  The only food which was available to them was a container of home-baked high fibre rusks which they proceeded to consume; with the high fibre content having an immediate effect on their bowels!  The ensuing mess and smell was indescribable!  Fortunately, it was midday and the clean-up process began immediately with loads of hand washing of bed linen - thanks to sunny warm weather most of the washing was dry by the evening.  Thank goodness for a spare set of bed linen!   After this nasty encounter, we ensured that there were always a few camp guards (from our group) left to ward off any marauding baboons!

Our camp elephant was also a challenge.  He enjoyed the Marula fruit which fell from the trees in the campsite.  However, being in musth, he was unpredictable and we had several encounters with him, the last of which was pretty up-close.  One night he ventured through the middle of our camp in amongst all the guide ropes and investigated what everybody had in their kitchen.  We were gathered around the camp fire when we noticed this enormous head between two trailer-top tents.  He squeezed through this seemingly impossible narrow opening and kept coming towards us running his trunk along one kitchen surface and knocking a pot to the ground.  He then changed direction and decided to go back along the road and ‘melted’ into the shadows.

It was slow going on the ‘roller coaster’ road from Moremi to Savuti.  The usual route to North Gate wasn’t possible as it was flooded, so we had to back-track taking the cut-line.  This route also had a long deviation that took us through “scratchy” winding Mopane woodland vegetation as there was an enormous lake in the road with water lilies growing in it – an indication that the water was deep.  There is no signage, so it’s guess work to find the way through the maze of criss-crossing tracks!  Eventually though, we found our way back to the road just on the other side of the ‘lake’. It was dusk as we arrived at our camp and we still had to tackle setting up camp in the dark.  Grateful thanks, once again, for a delicious and nutritious ready-made Minestrone soup with quinoa and veg patties on the side.

The onward journey from Savuti to the Chobe Reserve was also a long, tough journey, but we emerged to a spectacular view of the enormous expanse of the Chobe River seemingly doubled in sight!  Being fully aware of the challenge of baboon raids, we generally left a few people in the camp whilst others went out on game-viewing drives.

In closing my account on this amazing adventure, I have an excerpt from my diary.

‘As I write this, I have a spectacular view from our little veranda across the lush green lawn through to the Chobe River with the sunlight sparkling on it. Tonight is our final dinner in Kasane where we’re all going to gather at the Old House Restaurant.  Tomorrow we leave at 7.30am to travel to the border at Martin’s Drift.  We’ll be staying at Kwanokeng Lodge – a journey of about 8 hours.  Then it’s an early start to be at the border at 6am (as it opens) to make a head start for the journey to Pretoria and then the next day a 5am start on the final leg back to Durban.’

Memories crowd my mind; some of which are documented by the photos  which will give you, the reader, a small window into our Botswana experience.

The 3rd ‘p’ is for packing……

We only covered food prepping in the previous blog.  However, there are a number of other aspects to consider especially if you are going to be travelling to another country, some of which are visas, passports, foreign currency and car documentation.

It’s a good idea to create a “to do” spreadsheet to ensure that nothing important is left behind.  Have three columns:  1.  The task.  2.  Name of who is dealing with the task.  3.  Check column. As things ‘pop ’into your thoughts, add them to the spreadsheet.

We also have a comprehensive camping list.  This is useful to run through to ensure that all the necessary items are packed.  Remember that you’re going to be far away from shops and garages (for extra fuel); and there will be no electricity!  

Make sure that your car has been serviced, that you have excellent tyres and spare tyres, as well as essential car spares. (I’m not an expert on car stuff, but have experienced having car problems and having to solve these issues in remote places).

Have a comprehensive medical bag with first aid kit. We keep all our meds permanently in a large Medical backpack.  We just need to check it before leaving, pick it up and stow it in the car where it can be easily accessed. I have six natural remedies that I take, as well as meds for cuts, burns, splints etc. We always take a Satellite telephone (which is pre-loaded with air time) so that we can get an emergency message out. Medical insurance is very important as well as having medical evacuation if it should be needed.

Finally the packing.

Put everything out and give some thought to what is used most often, so that you have easy access to these things.  Contingency items (like tinned food) can be stowed away. Number the boxes and do an inventory of what is in each box.  Print your inventory and put it in a file with all your border crossing, recipes and any other relevant documentation. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to pull everything out to find something!

Calmly and systematically start to pack.  We always view the packing process as an exciting part of the holiday.  If it looks like certain things aren’t going to fit in, then prioritize what is important and simply leave the ‘nice to haves’ behind. It’s not a problem if some of the frozen or dehydrated foods don’t fit in – you’ll have some yummy food to look forward to on your return from the holiday! Also view the journey to your destination(s) as part of the exciting vacation. Travel at a conservative speed and you’ll arrive safely. Respect the bush and wildlife – you’re a guest in their ‘hood’!

Remember when travelling to remote places that it’s a good idea to be with a group of people or at least 2 vehicles so that someone can go for help if a car gets stuck or has a mechanical problem.

BON VOYAGE!

The Prep process for our Safari is running ‘full steam ahead’

I’ve chosen four different breakfast options:

1. Smoothies for the long travelling days on our inward journey to our destination.  These are made on the night before departure and stored in stainless steel flasks in our car cooler in the console. They’re easy to access – no unnecessary stops as we’re super keen to reach our destination!

2. Home made buckwheat cereal  served with fresh fruit and coconut yoghurt. (I’m going to be making more coconut yoghurt whilst we’re in Moremi).

3. Oats two ways – soaked in apple juice with cinnamon or cooked with coconut milk and almond butter.

4. Cooked breakfast:  Garlicky tomatoes and caramelized bananas and sweetcorn.

 

Four different Lunch options:

1. Green juice made in advance in stainless steel flasks and stored in the same easily accessible way as per the smoothies. I’ll take some fresh greens to make one more quantity of green juice using my manual Farre Juicer. The greens must be used as soon as possible as they won’t last for more than about four days in the fridge.

2. Salads: leaves don’t last long but Pak Choy lasts best and can be used raw and cooked and has a much milder cabbage flavour.  Serve with homemade sauerkraut / kimchi / pesto / fermented mustard and home-made pickle and Kombucha vinegar. Add a few different rainbow coloured fresh veg too. As space is at a premium in the fridges only one or two bottles of pickles can be used at a time.

3. Wraps with a choice of three different scrumptious fillings with a base of greens and other ingredients to create taste sensation!

4. Salads with a lentil or brown rice base.  Make these salads when the fresh ingredients are finished.

 

Dinners:

I’ve made and frozen four soups, which I’ll store in the caravan freezer.

I’ve made and frozen four main meals.  On this trip I’ve chosen curries – Chinese, Indian, Thai and Moroccan. 

I’ve made and frozen three different marinades:  BBQ, Thai and Sweet & Sour.  In addition I have one bottle of Korma sauce which will be packed into my grocery drawer.

 

Mid morning snacks:

1. Dehydrated fruit:  I’ve dehydrated mango, pineapple, apple, plums, banana and figs.  These store well in airtight containers.  Remember with dried fruit a little goes a long way.

2. Homemade trail mix – a mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and superfoods.

3. Dehydrated choc cookies made with hazelnut pulp flour.

4. Homemade fruit, nut and seed rusks.

 

 

 

 

Sundowner snacks:

1.     Kale chips

2.     Flax crackers

3.     Dehydrated macadamia nut cheese drops 

4.     Spicy nuts and seeds clusters

 

After dinner treats to round off the evenings whilst sharing the day’s experiences around the camp fire:

1.     Rocky Road fudge 

2.     Chocolate truffles

3.     Choc / Mint fudge 

 

Drinks:

1. Filtered water.  I take a Brita jug which is not necessarily the best, but better than not filtering the water.

2. Herbal teas for me and plunger coffee (for my husband).

3. Water Kefir which I’ll be making in the campsite.  I’ll add fresh lemon juice and fresh ginger juice to it to make our delicious sundowner drinks. Takes two days to make.

4. Carob chai on cooler evenings with an optional shot of Kaluha to warm us from the inside out!

Portion sizes are all carefully planned so that everything can fit into the two fridges and the freezer. Fresh fruit won’t last long hence we are taking dried fruit. Equally, veggies need to be chosen carefully eg. sweet potatoes, gem squash, butternut squash – which last a long time out of the fridge. I store the fresh fruit and veg, which are transported in an open collapsible crate in the car, in string bags so that they have good air flow and therefore last longer. There are invariably left-overs, so I don’t have meals prepared for every single meal.

Storage is important as monkeys and baboons, even elephants, can raid your camp if food is left out. Successful safaris require good planning and prepping to ensure that you can enjoy your holiday to the max.

 

Planning for a camping Safari

Planning, Prepping and Packing for a CAMPING SAFARI EXTRORDINAIRE to the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Part 1 - Planning

We’re so excited to be taking our German friends (and old friends) on an epic Botswanan adventure – camping in the stunning beauty of the Okavango Swamps, Savuti and Chobe.

Over the years I’ve honed my skills of the 3 P’s – Planning Prepping and Packing for Safari experiences using ‘Qualitarian’ and ‘Nutritarian’ foods, ensuring that we continue to nourish ourselves with THE BEST FOODS EVER whilst enjoying THE BEST HOLIDAY EVER!  

When planning a trip like this, it is very important to keep two key things in mind, the available space in the caravan or trailer, and the fridge or freezer space. As they say, practice makes perfect -  this definitely gets easier the more often we do it.

On our trip, there are no shopping opportunities to replenish supplies for the first 2 weeks. Here are some of the things we do to make sure our planning goes smoothly:-  

·         Quantify the number of meals required for the period.

·         Distinguish the type of meals required, such as en route in the car, complete meals (for late    arrivals), breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, treats, and also hot and cold drinks.

·         Choose recipes to make for the freezer or to store in airtight containers.

·         Draw up shopping lists to purchase the relevant ingredients.

·         Plan to systematically make the meals over the two weeks leading up to departure - starting with the frozen meals.  This food must be frozen solid before packing into the camping freezer.

·         Plan the big pack ahead of time - preferably over the weekend prior to departure.

·         Non-perishable foods should be packed into “ammo” boxes.  Heavy duty plastic, stackable boxes with firm clips are a must as monkeys and baboons can’t open them!

·         Perishable goods must be purchased as close to departure date as possible to ensure freshness.

My thinking is to make sure that there is sufficient choice, and flexibility in the menu for the whole trip, which in this case is 3 weeks.

Maximum preparation beforehand ensures that I maximize my relaxation time when I’m away.  Most of the work is done and I can enjoy the holiday!

I have peace of mind that the food quality is excellent, that the foods that I’ve chosen will deeply nourish us, that it will offer us a wide spread of rainbow colours, and most of all that each meal will be delicious.

The secret is in the planning!

 

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