Maun, North West, Botswana.
After driving almost the entire length of the Caprivi Strip, we travelled down into Botswana along the Okavango Panhandle. The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world. The Okavango River no longer ends in the ocean, but in the Kalahari, thereby supplying over 15,000 square kilometres of desert with water. Because of the high temperature, the water can evaporate very quickly, meaning that the area is a rapidly changing environment where land can be claimed by water, and retaken by drought, very quickly. The panhandle extends northwest. The area is massive and home to a wide variety of different animals. We did not see many, but the locals told us that if we wanted to do so the current conditions would mean travelling deep into the delta by komoro (a type of canoe), so we decided against it. Botswana is expensive enough without indulging in any luxuries.
We then drove on to Maun, a city that is greatly influenced by South Africans, which meant that things like biltong and Windhoek beer were available. Needless to say, we stocked up on beer and meat and drove on looking for a place to sleep. On driving out of Maun, we came across a particularly Botswanese phenomenon: a foot and mouth disease checkpoint. Here, we were asked if we had any meat with us. Having just bought our first pieces of proper meat from a butcher in a long time, we said “no.” Luckily they believed us. However, for every quarantine area there must be another entry/exit-point on the other side. So, a few hours later, shortly before dark, we drove up to the other checkpoint. Before they could ask if we had any meat with us, we said we really needed a place to sleep because it was getting dark and it was too far to the next city. They obviously forgot about the meat and said we could sleep in the field next to the checkpoint, where we ate our meat and drank beer by the fire between the cows and cow dung. Heady stuff!
The next morning we woke up to a lot of Volvo classics passing by us. It turned out that they were from the Netherlands. The Land Rover recovery vehicle also stopped to talk to us, and it transpired that the drivers had been following us on our website from the start. What a coincidence! We met up with them at the end of a day in Martin’s Drift, just before the border with South Africa. We had a good time talking to them about the trip and the Land Rover. The next day we would reach our half-way point: South Africa!