Safari Goodbyes

I wake up hoping to see an elephant today. I know, I am not supposed to hope for things. But I do anyway.

Dunega, Pula, Pat, Mosh with Murray and Debbie in front

Dunga, Pula, Pat, Mosh with Murray and Debbie in front

After saying goodbye and thank you to Pula, Mosh and Dunga, we three head off for our last game drive.

The game drive starts as every other day. Impala, landscape, impala, fish eagle, impala, cape buffalo, impala. A whole herd of impala gathers closely, very closely together. So close that it is worth a stop of a photo. Click, click, then the impala froze and every one of them faced attentively to stage left.

Just behind the impala there is a panic and impala running exit stage right and then across the opening a white flash. Pat says, CHEETAH! Man is it fast! About 30 seconds later the cheetah returns from where it came with a baby impala in its mouth.

The impala have an M shaped marking on their butt. Pat says the cats see that as “McDonalds” and dine there regularly. Debbie and I have been amazed at the number of baby impala there are in each herd and have come to the conclusion the reason is because the babies serve as cat fodder.

The rest of the drive is slow without any other big animal sightings. The next installment is Botswana by air. We say goodbye to Pat and board the elusive white bellied cessena, which can be found in varied habitat through the world, and watch out the window observing the delta from the skies. We see a few animals but they are really tiny. It is interesting to see the landscape from a bird’s view.

The plane ride ends but our day is just about to begin anew. We arrive chilled (mentally) from 10 days of pampered isolation, the hotel shuttle is not at the airport but that is solved with one phone call. We arrive at the hotel and our room is not ready. No problem, we have all day, the internet is good by the pool so we find a table and sit. Our intention is to check emails and post one of the stored blogs. Debbie digs into her email to see what’s up. Nothing earthshaking.  My turn. There is a weird titled one from Air Botswana about “important flight information – The flight you were booked on from Maun to Johannesburg has been cancelled and you have been confirmed on a flight 4 hours later.”  ALARM!!!

Nice of the folks to rebook us free of charge and all but the new flight arrives in J’Burg 15 minutes AFTER our connecting flight to Dar es Salaam takes off. Today’s flight to J’Burg has already left, we are at the hotel we have paid for and we are behind the eight ball.

We try to raise the Air Botswana office by phone but there is no answer. So we grab all our bags, hand in the room key, explain that we may not be back if we can grab another flight today that will eventually get us to J’Burg by noon tomorrow.

The lady at the Air Botswana office is helpful although it was our suggested routing that she followed up on. We eventually got a flight to Gabarone (the capital of Botswana and closer to J’Burg) at 8 pm, and another flight from Gabs to J’Burg tomorrow morning landing in time to catch our connection.

The lady at Air Botswana also called the Maun Lodge and managed to get us a 50% refund on our hotel payment. Catch was we had to return to the hotel to collect it in cash. So, back to the hotel we go. The front desk lady offered to book a hotel in Gaberone for us. Awesome customer service at the Maun Lodge. If you are in Maun, stay there.

Flight rebooked, hotel booked, onward flight rebooked and a day of reintroducing ourselves to civilization, catching up and resting turns into stress, panic and a short night’s sleep.

“Travel Mode” says Debbie. She means ooooommmmm. I fell out of travel mode for a while today, whereas Debbie seemed to stay in it. It is important to maintain travel mode no matter what happens, after all, travel is all about adapting to changes and handling whatever is thrown at us with calm and humour.

This morning where she mentioned that she hoped to see an elephant, I said “Don’t get your hopes up as we haven’t seen many elephants in Moremi”. Today our last day on safari we searched hard for that elephant and didn’t see one and the day went downhill from there. Here we sit on an airplane to a city not on our itinerary and I should be showered and asleep in a real bed for the first time in 10 days.

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