Adventurous into the new year

After the wedding, a part of the family decided to stay on for some quality time. We celebrated Christmas together at the grandparents’ house, totaling 16 members. Because of this we agreed that everyone was to give one gift to one person. Thus minimizing the amount of gifts and more importantly the amount of wrapping paper. It also decreased the stress level for each and everyone, and allowed us to have more fun together. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve with Norwegian pork ribs and sour cabbage. Sitting together until late at night.

On the second Christmas Day we all helped getting everything ready for a few days in the bush, packing tents, bedding, drinks, food and a whole lot of other stash into the cars. To be ready to leave the following day. And by lunch time after a hectic morning we were off to Mababe. Where we arrived a few hours later and set up camp at a magnificent spot overlooking the river. Matilda being the youngest at 4 and great gran Doris being the oldest at 82 we had a lovely mix of generations. Of course we had taken an extra mattress for Doris!

To make cooking easier, we had split the gang into smaller groups. Every group having the responsibility of catering for one day and enjoying freedom for the rest of the stay. The kids were included of course and did their parts with enthusiasm. Helping where they could.

Of course we also went on safari drives to see what we would see. The highlights being lions walking on the road in front of us and not minding us at all. And the hippos at the hippo pool close to our camp. Playing around and creating a spectacle. The rainy season brings a lot of greenery to the eye as well as small animals to adore…

…or fear…

After some lovely days in the bush with lots of laughter, fun and relaxation we headed back to town to go on the next adventure. Coming home we found a broken pipe having flooded the whole floor…

Once fixed, we got packing. Next up, a trip along the western side of the Okavango for some boating and fun on the river.

The swamp stop at Sepopa was our destination where we spent the next 4 days. The kids all got a chance at driving the boats, understanding the physics of using a tiller-arm surprisingly quickly.

Because the flood was very low this year, the water was restricted to the main channel. Meaning most of the hippos in the area were in the main channel with us. When the water is high, it lifts the papyrus and creates small lagoons within the papyrus for the hippos to seek refuge, gaining access from underneath the floating plants. On one of our trips with both the boats, when everyone decided to join, we drove over several families of hippos hiding in the water below the boats. The hippos blowing bubbles as we drove past. Grandpa, in the first boat, came across quite a big family of hippos on our way home and decided to slow down to see how many hippos there were, after having warned me in the second boat. I stayed back and watched as hippos popped up here and there before submerging below the surface again. As the first boat slowly made its way past the hippos. My uncle steering the first boat luckily looked back just in time to see the head of a hippo emerging 2 meters behind their boat and taking a leap at their boat. Twisting the accelerator the boat flew away from the hippos head, which would have been in the back of the boat had he not reacted. I then decided to take the speedy version and got our boat flying way before the submarines, speeding past hippo air bubbles dodging emerging hippo heads. Everyone’s adrenaline was pumping as we reached the other boat, exchanging a few comments and happiness for the good ending. Unfortunately no one took pictures or a video of the incident and no one was keen on doing another take. But the incident will not be forgotten I’m sure! Being in the Okavango we didn’t want to miss the chance of catching a tiger fish. A distant cousin of the piranha it is well equipped with razor sharp teeth and a ferocious fish when hooked. And not an easy fish to land. A lot of casting and hours spent on the river finally paid off and we were lucky to catch a few of these beautiful fish. Making sure they were not hurt we released them back into the water after a short picture shoot.

Also this trip came to an end and after 6 weeks of accommodating family from Germany the time for their return home had come. We saw them all off at the airport sad that they were leaving. The house has become quiet and we are getting back into everyday life. Not much longer and the school holidays will come to an end. The second year of our life abroad to commence and looking forward to all that awaits us.

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Weekend adventures

While we have come to the middle of winter, Norway is enjoying the middle of summer. Meaning that school up in the north has a 8 week long holiday and families with kids can take a few weeks holiday to visit us with their kids. First up is Martha’s cousin and family. Their kids are the same age as our two oldest. They get along well having spent numerous holidays together while we were still living in Norway.

July has a few long weekends, one in respect of Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama. So we used the extra days to go on adventure.

First up was a safari trip to one of our favorite spots on the Mababe river. Camping on the edge of the river with a wonderful view down the banks, from a 4 meter raised sandy little cliff. A fantastic spot for morning coffee and hot chocolate.

Because of the lack of rain animals crowd along the rivers, most noticeable were the elephants, which moved in and around camp day and night. Because Botswana is the country with the highest elephant population in Africa one is bound to encounter them. Luckily all our encounters were peaceful. Nonetheless there were a lot of tired faces exiting the tents on the first morning, having had elephants walk a few meters past our tents and ripping branches off trees right next to us all night. We love camping in the bush and you’d be surprised what one can see by just sitting in camp. We also had a hyena come by every night, saw two crocodiles mating in the river just in front of the camp, hippos bathing in the sun, buffalos drinking by the water and small wild cats hunting on the opposite side of the river.

Being in camp gives the kids time to do different things compared to every day life. For example cooking, making fires and entertaining themselves with out electronics or abundance of toys. Life can be so simple.

Of course we also went on gamedrives and watched some beautiful sunsets.

We didn’t see any of the big cats this time around, but that just means we’ll have to come back another time.

Once back in town the kids went to school for a few days before we headed off along the western side of the Delta. Driving around 300 km took us to Etsha and a camp along the Guma lagoon, at the bottom of the panhandle. Once leaving the tar road the roads were quite sandy and one of the cars got stuck. But reducing the tire pressure by letting out some air was enough to get it out and continue the journey.

This gave us the opportunity to see a different side of the otherwise pretty dry Okavango. Although water is relatively low this year, it was lovely to see this much water and greenery. Of course we had to get out on the boat and cruise the narrow channels of the Okavango lined by papyrus walls. Seeing a few huge crocodiles catching some warmth in the sun, but quickly slipping into the water when we tried to approach for a better look.

Enjoying fishing I had the rods ready to try our luck at catching the African tiger fish or the more tricky bream (bass). Although fortune was not with us this time, it was fun giving it a try.

We now await the next visitors in a week, and are looking forward to new adventures. The next trip will take us into Moremi Game Reserve before we head to the Makgadikgadi pans and then Vic falls passing through Savuti on our way back home.

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