Greetings from the banks of the Thamalakane River in Botswana!
We have thoroughly enjoyed our time here in Maun and have seen some incredible wildlife since we last spoke to you. Our morning game drive in Chobe National Park was sensational! We started off in the early hours of the morning, ready to see some nocturnal animals, a wonderful sunrise and experience the morning rituals of some of our favorite animals. We loaded into the safari vehicles and were lucky enough to see, at the very start, a large amount of hippos and a lioness with a few of her cubs. A few minutes later the radios went crazy, as a pride of lions had been spotted near the plains and the water. We saw a pride of 12 lions, playing and wrestling, we truly could not believe our eyes! From giraffes and wharthogs being chased by wild dogs, to elephants with year old calves and hippos galore, it was an amazing way to start our time in Botswana!
After our morning game drive, we were off to Maun, a town near the Okavango Delta where we have just finished our last days of community service. Day one saw the whole team pitching in to clear the land on the site of a future bakery for the community. We were lucky enough to be greeted into the community by the Maun Council and then actually participate in a greeting ceremony by the chief of the village. Once the land was cleared we created 10 plots to be planted with vegetables for the bakery, Sky and Kate were ground tilling machines and turned over the manure and soil like pros! While waiting for the water to moisten the ground that we had prepared, the whole team (under the initiative of Maggie) started to get a plan in the works for a flash mob for when we reach Gabarone.
Our next day of service was probably one of the most incredible days we’ve had to date. We were taken to a plot of land about 10 minutes from the city centre, where we met Beauty, a teacher, who is dedicated to building a center for seniors in the area who have lost the family that they would otherwise have to take care of them. We participated in the traditional welcome and greeting ceremony and all of the community members joined us and sang the beautiful anthem of Botswana. Alana did an incredible job at introducing our group and then we broke out into 5 different groups to start clearing the land.
Emma and Tessa spent the ENTIRE day working alongside community members and rarely took a break. We had chef Scott on the Braai with two other teenagers from the community, and Ivy and Ashley who lent a hand stirring the Pap (traditional maize dish) and serving the meal to all of the hardworking volunteers. Molly M, Melissa and Nicole really spent time getting to know the community members that they were working with and together we managed to clear a HUGE section of land. Everyone had a incredible day and made true friendships that really showed that even though we live on the other side of the world, we all have so many similarities and are so much alike.
The following day was spent on a game drive into the Moremi Game Reserve where we were able to check out the gorgeous landscape that forms the Okavango Delta and were fortunate to see elephants, giraffes and zebras. After lunch we went on a river cruise where we saw hippos along the banks or wading in the water.
Our last day of service was a very meaningful one. We went and visited some of the seniors that will benefit from the center that we were helping to build. All three groups managed to interact with and make an impact at each of the homes that we visited. We heard incredible stories and were truly able to make a difference in the lives of these elderly people. After seeing the people we were making a difference for, we went back to the land and finished up the part of the field that we had started two days before. We took shifts and are so proud of all of the hard work that we accomplished!
We’re off to Gweta today for our adventure on the Salt Pans tomorrow. We can’t believe that we only have 5 short days left together!
Lots of love from Botswana!
The Westcoast Blogger