Day 9: Maun - Ghanzi
Ghanzi Travel Blog› entry 11 of 34 › view all entries
September 22nd, 2009 – by: Biedjee
It was a short drive to the town of Ghanzi. We were able to tick off another African icon on our list, as a couple of ostriches crossed the road right in front of us. They had several small chicks with them, which made it even more special. They happily posed for our cameras for a few moments, before heading into the bushes.
Ghanzi lies in the Kalahari de[sert, the second-largest desert in Africa, which stretches across parts of the DR Congo, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Despite the huge water mass of the nearby Okavango delta, the Kalahari is as dry as, well, a desert.
We made a short stop at the town itself, before heading to the camp-site a little south of town. As we were waiting for everybody to return to the truck a couple of kids came up to us, begging for money or candy. Paul had just bought an ice-cream, and after one bite decided to give it to the kids instead. It was really funny to see them sharing the ice-cream, biting off huge chunks and then seeing them grimacing as the brain-freeze kicks in. Shot a couple of nice photos there.
The Ghanzi Trailblazers camp-site is a lovely place that also offers traditional thatch huts as an alternative for camping. Each are equipped with two beds, mosquito nets and a little table and everybody in our group decided to upgrade and sleep in a hut rather than setting up the tent.
In the afternoon we went for a swim in a nearby quarry. The quarry was used to dig up hard rock used to build the road through the Kalahari desert, and after it had been closed the water from the water table had seeped through the porous rock, leaving an idyllic lake with crystal clear water. It is still being developed into a recreational area with a small restaurant and camp-site. It was nice relaxing here for a couple of hours.
It wasn't as hot as it had been over the last few days. It was weird to see clouds in the sky for the first time in a week, and we welcomed the drop in temperature (still hovering around 28 degrees, but at least it was no longer in the forties like it had been in Okavango). Riaan expected it would rain later tonight. The prospect of rain also seemed nice to us.
In the area of Ghanzi there are still some tribes of pygmy bushmen living in a traditional way. Locally they are known as the San people. Though most of these tribes have given up their nomadic way of life, they still stick to their traditional food and medicine.
We went on a short walk with a group of bushmen. First we were welcome by the chief, who greeted us in his own language, the sound of which contains a lot of gurgling and clicking with the tongue. Fortunately we had a guide who translated the local language into English for us. He then went round our group and shook everybody's hand, repeating everyone's name and country of residence, to much hilarity of bushmen and tourist alike.
The bushmen (and women) went to do the things they normally do, which is digging up plants that can be used for a variety of uses.
The guide explained how his mother was from the tribe we did the walk with, and his father was from a different tribe. He had been brought up in a small village nearby, until he was sent off to school. In Botswana schooling is compulsory for all children, and it is free as well - quite a revolutionary concept for an African country, but then again, Botswana is not a typical African country.
The rains never really came that day. All we got was a few droplets and some gusts of wind whipping up so much dust and sand that the entire truck (both outside and in) was covered in sand.
There was however a huge thunderstorm that passed by a few kilometres away, offering us a fantastical spectacle of lightning. I quickly set up my tripod to try and capture one of these lightnings on photo. I've done this a few times before in the past, but never overly successful.
Managed to capture a few more after that, though the storm quickly passed and faded.
As today was Neil's actual birthday Juliana had prepared for some extra. While three of us lured him away to the bar to buy him a 'birthday beer', the rest of the group hung balloons around the truck and dining area, provided party hats and whistles for everyone and assisted Juliana with creating some birthday treats for boys: airplanes and race cars made from candy!
As Neil and I returned to the truck everybody was sitting with their party hats on, singing 'Happy Birthday'. Really fun.
The idea was to watch a film made about bushmen in the seventies, “The Gods Must Be Crazy”.
Sleeping in the thatch huts was strangely comfortable after a week in a tent. As the wind raged on outside, we slept like little babies in our reasonably comfortable (but dusty) beds.
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