One more tent and we are spent

Published on 1 November 2023 at 11:48

Another day on the road for us. The boys have adapted so well to driving long distances. They use their imagination to be different characters: for example, Nash pretends to be Finn’s pet dinosaur named Dino. Dino has to be fed, given water and needs naps. Finn also tells Nash different stories- some are adaptations from movies he has watched and some are just stories he’s created in his mind. The boys can’t read books in the car because they both get car sick. They have really enjoyed listening to stories and have gotten into listening to comedies. Finn loves a guy named Mike Birbiglia on Spotify. He’s a funny and clean comedian that keeps the boy’s attention. 

Today we are traveling to the Caprivi strip which is a narrow land smushed in between Botswana, Angola and Zambia. Typically this area is surrounded in wetlands but this year and last, it has experienced severe drought. The areas that are normally surrounded in water are completely dry. This region has not received rain yet this year. Tall golden grass fields surround the land as well as large trees with green leaves. The first greenery we have seen in a while. Some of the area has been involved in controlled burns, so it’s completely black and grey looking. 

As we are driving into our lodge, Nkasa Tented lodge, I notice a couple of warthogs sleeping under a bush. We also encounter a few traffic jams caused by elephants crossing the road. We travel for at least 30-45 minutes on the reserve before we finally get to our lodge. The location here makes some of the places we stayed in Tanzania look like New York City. The Linyanti River usually surrounds this area and tourists can do boat safaris directly from the lodge. Not this year- we unfortunately have to drive around 2-3 hours to reach the spot where the river is deep enough for the boats. 

Our lodge is a glorified tent on stilts with 2 beds, a tiny toilet and 2 more small bed. The temperature is approaching 98 degrees with a hot breeze coming off the savannah.  The water coming out of the faucet takes about 15 seconds to begin to come out and it is only a trickle. As I dry my hands on the towel in the toilet box, a bunch of moths fly out and I jumped back and slightly screamed. I'm sure you can guess this tent doesn't have a/c but 1 fan.

For the afternoon we hang out in the main lodge area so the kids could play legos and not die of a heatstroke. Our tent is like a hot box and unbearable during the afternoon. It seems that everyone from Europe flew in on the same plane and has covid. Everyone around us at the lodge is coughing, sneezing with snotty, runny noses. A dream come true! 

We decide to go on the evening game drive to escape the heat, but have to ride with other people. Our guide was young, not friendly and didn’t really care for kids. He said several times ‘their voices are too loud’  when they were barely even talking. He yelled at us once to stay in our seats - no one was even trying to stand up. The game viewing was amazing. We saw three male lions walking about protecting their territory. Our guide told us 2 male lions from Botswana had come into this area and they were all fighting earlier. The male lions were defending their territory and appeared intense rather than the normal, sleepy, chill lion behavior.  Suddenly I begin to hear this high pitch squeaking sound that I assume was a bird. The guide told us it was actually the Springbok's warning call that predators are nearby.

After watching the lions for a while, we continued our drive to the river and watched the sunset over a herd of hippos. The view was spectacular and by far the best part about this lodge! After sunset we went back, had dinner and headed back to our tent. Fortunately the temperature had dropped enough that our heat box was fairly comfortable. 

The next morning everyone woke up as the sun was beginning to rise, ~ 5 am. I took the boys over to the main lodge area to draw and do some school work. Paul tried to rest a bit more in the tent. He was up a lot during the night because of the leopard and hyena noises. I had a loud fan blowing directly on me so I didn’t hear a thing except for Nash snoring in my ear. As we were coloring and I was drinking my cup of coffee, several warthogs and baboons came up to the small waterhole in front of the lodge. 

A nice man named Newman asked if we were doing any activities today? I replied, I don’t think we set anything up yet. Maybe we can do a boat and safari combo this afternoon?  He looked confused and didn’t really know our schedule. A few minutes later our guide from last night came storming up the stairs. He said firmly to me, ‘We were suppose to leave at 6:30 and I have other people waiting, are you coming?’ I look confused and then look at my watch which says the time is 6:32. I ask him, ‘what are we suppose to be doing’. He looks annoyed and says ‘the morning game drive. I told you, we leave at 6:30, we are late’. I tell him I’m going to go check with Paul, as I’m walking down the steps I turn back around and just say ‘no thanks, we will skip this mornings drive’. He says ‘ok’ and leaves. At this point, I’m slightly annoyed because now it’s 6:33 am and it’s already approaching 90 degrees. There’s nothing else to do until the afternoon game drive which is at 4:30. I feel like I’m getting dirty looks from the other guests at the lodge as they try and enjoy their breakfast while the boys are playing like boys do.  We can’t let the boys run around here because there are no fences and our camp is completely surrounded by wildlife.  Literally, there is a giant elephant dung on the first step into our tent.  The tent is the size of a typical camping tent- no space to move around in, plus the temperature is going to be around 100 degrees today. 

After the boys and I eat breakfast, we collect our school work and toys to head back to our tent. Paul and I both decided this isn’t going to work for 3 more days and 2 more nights. So, we pack up and are now on the way to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

We can not drive our rental car out of Namibia and into a new country. So we contact Caprivi Adventures, switch our transport day, return our rental car and head out on our way. We have to exit customs in Namibia, go through immigration and customs in Botswana, exit Botswana and go through immigration and customs for Zimbabwe. 

All the immigration offices are outside in the 98 degree heat. 'Pole pole' has a whole new meaning here. We have customs forms to fill out, birth certificates and passports to get checked at each new country. While we are waiting at immigration in Botswana, a warthog comes up grazing on the grass beside our transport van. A young employee takes a rock and throws it at the warthog. I assume she was trying to scare it away but the warthog didn't budge.  We entered and drove through Chobe National Park in Botswana along our route. We saw some kudu, warthogs, antelopes and elephants along the way.

Once we finally reached the immigration office in Zimbabwe, we saw several warthogs wondering around as well. Apparently they are trying to get their passport stamped in as many countries as possible - this brings the term "the grass is always greener" to a whole new level. Crossing countries for greener pastures! 

Of course Nash falls asleep and Paul has to carry him in and out of immigration in Botswana. I can not count the number of people that have asked if the boys are twins.  They have gotten use to it and Nash just puts up his 4 fingers and says "I'm four years old".  Finn is a little bit quieter but eventually says he is 7 years old. Anyways, it has been an interesting day and always an adventure with these boys! I truly am amazed at how well they are doing on this journey. 
We did finally make it to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe- we weren't sure if we were staying on the Zambia or Zimbabwe side of the falls.  Our hotel is directly in front of the Zambezi river and everyone is incredibly welcoming. I'm really glad we didn't wait it out at our last spot even though we had a long day today, we are all so happy to be here (and having a/c is a huge bonus)! Plus, we can finally take a decent shower and wash off all the dust from the past week. 

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4 months ago

The boys passports are really full.

4 months ago

Wow.... I'm glad you moved on. You will certainly cool off here when you get to PA. It's like 38 degrees!

4 months ago

More great immersive storytelling Emily! Love being in on this adventure through your stories. Glad you left that place sounded really bad between the Covid the noises at night and the grumpy guide and guests!

Meg Gambino
2 months ago

This is such an adventure. Glad you guys switched up your days. And hopefully y’all didn’t get COVID too!