Day 9: Maun - Ghanzi

Ghanzi Travel Blog

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ostritch on the road
We had a lie-in today. We only had to get up at 6:30, the latest we've had since starting the tour.
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.
kid in Ghanzi


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.
welcome to our new home


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.
swimming at the quarry
The area around us looked as if it could do with some watering.

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.
San bushman chief
It was amazing, we'd walked maybe 100 metres, and the bushmen dug up over 8 different plants, ranging from medicine for dehydration to plants that give off so much liquid it can be used for washing or seeds that help kids learn the language (we were each given a seed to put under our tongue, and within a minute it popped, forcing the tongue upwards in the mouth which produces the characteristic click).

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.
Bushmen walk
He now works as a guide explaining the traditional way of living, as well as translating between bushmen speak and English. He also works on a thesis on traditional medicine. It made me realise that while free education is a very good and important initiative in a country like Botswana it also spells the end of the traditional way of life for these people.

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.
lightning at Ghanzi
Not so this time, with the very first photo I took I hit bull's eye and perfectly captured the lightning striking across the sky.
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”.
kid in Ghanzi
Riaan has a DVD player with a projector, which he can set up at the truck, but the heavy wind and problems with the power made that it didn't quite work. After several attempts he admitted defeat and everybody retired to bed instead.

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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ostritch on the road
ostritch on the road
kid in Ghanzi
kid in Ghanzi
welcome to our new home
welcome to our new home
swimming at the quarry
swimming at the quarry
San bushman chief
San bushman chief
Bushmen walk
Bushmen walk
lightning at Ghanzi
lightning at Ghanzi
kid in Ghanzi
kid in Ghanzi
kid in Ghanzi taking a bit too big…
kid in Ghanzi taking a bit too bi…
thatch huts at Ghanzi Trailblazers…
thatch huts at Ghanzi Trailblazer…
our transport to the quarry
our transport to the quarry
San bushman (erm, woman)
San bushman (erm, woman)
San bushman
San bushman
San bushman
San bushman
San bushman
San bushman
San bushman
San bushman
Bushmen walk
Bushmen walk
Bushmen walk
Bushmen walk
lightning at Ghanzi
lightning at Ghanzi
lightning at Ghanzi
lightning at Ghanzi
Neils birthday party
Neil's birthday party
Ghanzi
photo by: Biedjee