As recently as last month saw me jet-setting again, this time to the idyllic African country of Botswana (for the geographically challenged, Botswana is a country on the continent of Africa). While the trip was initially intended to catch up with family (Ethiopia was just too far away!) it has always been on my radar of places to go back to. While the majority of the planning etc was left up to family, there are always certain things that a seasoned traveller to Africa can count on – that the unseasoned won’t believe until it happens!
I could just write a blog about what we did and what we saw, but thought this would be much more interesting and informative, and in a round about way tell you of all the memorable potential disasters of our holiday adventure.
So I have put together a list of 5 Do’s/Don’t’s that any unseasoned traveller should know before setting out on an African adventure, which the seasoned traveller is going to read and just giggle at behind their hand.
1. DON’T plan to be able to drive at the same distance/hour as you do at home, no matter what the internet tells you (and since when has the internet been a reliable source of information? Aren’t you just letting any old bozzo jump on and put their 2 cents worth of information on here?!!).
DO plan to take at least TWICE as long as you think to get anywhere. Particularly if you are going anywhere near animals. Twice we happened suddenly upon animals just dawdling along the road, in no hurry to move out of the way for us.
2. DON’T get out of the vehicle if the rangers tell you not to, and most importantly don’t get too close to the water. “Why Clitus, there be crocs and hippos living in them there waters!” Because even though you might be from a country with the most poisonous animals, they are all small and don’t run as fast as you!
DO run (or get the hell outta there) if you hear them splashing in the water just meters in front of you!
3. DO check ALL water crossings before charging through! Invariably (and as Murphy will attest to) the one that you don’t check is the one you get stuck in.
DO have a ‘watch’ or ‘look-out’ if you need to dig yourself out. Why? Read 2. again!
4. DON’T trust your GPS when water or small tracks are involved. The main reason is, the woman sitting in the spaceshuttle giving you directions has little patience for your indecision and lack of map reading skills and will send you the most direct, but not always the most sensible path.
DON’T get stuck driving around at night in the African bush, you never know what group of wild animals you will suddenly and unexpectedly have to reverse out of the way for!
DO ask anyone you come across if they know where they are. If they defer to their GPS, ignore them. If they tell you without hesitation then you are most likely talking to a local, they probably know where they are, so trust them.
5. DO take every opportunity to interact with the locals and see the sights. They really are spectacular, and as much as you might say to yourself that you will see it again, come back or do it later… Guess what? Doesn’t often happen!
DON’T drive past something potentially awesome because you did not take into consideration 1. above! Stop, have a look and you will be so much happier that you did once you are back home reminiscing.
So there you have it, my 5 tips for survival in the African (and Botswanan) bush! Without the near misses that we had along the trip, it would not have been as memorable and you wouldn’t be reading this blog…