Family Life Travel

Dumela Botswana

January 21, 2020

I honestly do not remember the last time my family spent the Christmas holidays at home, actually I have never spent the holidays at home! My memories of the holidays are filled with the lake or of countries across the world. I truly believe we would be bored out of our minds if we spent the holidays at home, I don’t think we would know what to do with ourselves put in that situation. 2019 was not different. When the time came to choose a holiday destination, it was a debate over Seychelles, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique or Botswana.

Seychelles was shot down by my mum without a second thought. The clear waters and beaches that stretched out were met with “that is pretty, that looks like the only pretty thing there. I don’t feel like looking at old buildings that are half pretty.” Down went the Seychelles! Malaysia and Mauritius were not discussed in length, overshadowed by Botswana and Mozambique. My dad was keen on Maputo meanwhile all my mum and I have ever heard about Maputo is the rancid smell that never goes away. My mum and I, we are hypersensitive to smells, Maputo was never going to happen! You cannot enjoy a holiday with sinuses that are flaring up. Botswana won the battle of the holidays.

Sir Seretse Khama Airport: Elephant Sculpture made of pure Ivory tusks from elephants who died from natural causes.

My first impression of the Sir Seretse Khama Airport is that it looks and functions like Chileka Airport in Malawi only better. The general structure of the airport, the walk from the plane to enter the airport building leading to passport control, the carousel located a couple meters behind passport control, all screams Malawi but like I said only better!

An elephant sculpture made of pure ivory greets you after clearing passport control… of all the airports I have been to, this one does not have an evident presence of taxi’s. We saw the sign Taxi’s, great! We followed the signs, only to find an empty lot of where the taxi’s are meant to be, ODD to say the least. How are we supposed to get to our destination? This is what we learnt over the course of our holiday, Tswana’s do not stay in the city during the holidays, everybody goes to the villages. Was a taxi service available? Yes. With two members of staff, grudgingly holding down the holiday shift. Taxi drivers are generally cheerful over the holidays, making conversation if you indulge them but I have never met a more mum driver than this even though my dad tried to engage him.

Another thing I learnt, Tswana’s exist on extreme poles either very rude or very nice… I can safely say I did not experience an in between. Either he was not pleased with working the holiday shift or just rude, our non-conversationalist driver managed to inform us that the one thing that we wanted to do… visit the Okavango Delta… was located 900 kilometers away from Gaborone. At some point we should learn to stop winging it because we will end up not doing the things we really want to do. No one, among us, took the initiative to actually find out how far the Okavango Delta is from Gaborone.

Mum was defeated and not even trying to listen to any talks of driving there! More on that later.

Despondent about the distance to Okavango Delta and the possibility of not going we decided to sleep on it and figure out what to do in Gaborone. There is not much to do in Gaborone to be honest. All the exciting things to do are mostly outside of city. So whether we liked it or not trips outside the city were becoming more and more inevitable. This is not to say that you will not find exciting things to do in Gaborone. We spent the 24th of December, sleeping in (much needed after a long year),getting settled in, figuring out where the malls where, setting up phone connections with the local mobile networks… practical things really.

On to the exciting things you can do in Gaborone…. Gaborone Dam, Museum (which we learnt was closed for the holidays, under renovations, when we eventually decided to go), Mokolodi Nature Reserve, Crocodile Farms, Lion Theme Park. We settled for Mokolodi Nature Reserve and Lion Theme Park on Christmas Day.

Because we are still winging it… no lessons learnt, when we made it to Mokolodi and finding out what we could do for the afternoon, the girl behind the counter said “the only thing I can offer you is a game drive that leaves at 2.” Now that happened to be the hottest day in Gaborone during our stay, enough travel has taught us, you are not going to see any game at 2pm in soaring temperatures and besides we have been on enough game drives to not sweat it… an afternoon of Mokolodi sunsets won out! And by this time, mum had agreed to a 900 kilometer road trip to the Delta YAAAAAY… plenty game to be seen in the delta.

She had committed herself to this trip so much that we left a day earlier. She woke on 26th December and decided we are leaving that morning. It did not take much convincing because when asked what we planned on doing for the day, we were drawing blanks, which is not surprising if someone wakes you up at 8 am in the morning on a holiday to ask you what the plan for the day is. An hour later we were bundled up in the car, headed for Okavango Delta. Nothing will ever beat the drive we did between Malawi and Lusaka, Zambia during the Christmas holidays of 2018 but the Trans-Kalahari road trip is a close second.

It is very easy to fall in love with Botswana… the first couple of days spent in Gaborone, I was on the fence about how I felt about Botswana but how that road trip begun to change everything! Thanks to Google Maps and and an actual map, tasked with chief navigating duties, 10 hours later, we made it to Maun also known as The Okavango Delta. And there, in the heart of Maun, I fell in love with Botswana!

‘Musings of the Malawian Girl’

#Gaborone #Botswana #Africa

  • Reply
    Alikuti Mkandawire
    January 22, 2020 at 6:07 am

    Thandi! I wanna read more… This is such a great read!

    • Reply
      April 8, 2020 at 5:41 am

      It is a great read indeed

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