F/Town, Nata and Kasane

July 29, 2008 - Kasane, Botswana

Headed two Francistown on Saturday 26th after finishing at the Rhino Sanctuary. We booked into Diggers Inn and decided that we needed fruit and vegetables that had been pretty much missing for the last two weeks. Myself and Paul headed to the Supermarket after doing our washing and bought lots of healthy items. We cooked a kind of vegetarian spaghetti bolognese which was pretty good if I do say so myself. Early to bed that evening for a well deserved good nights sleep in a proper bed. The following day we went into town were I purchased a new thicker sleeping bag, as I had decided to leave my rubbish one at the Rhino Sanctuary along with some other wasted items (my bags still feels heavy though!). In the afternoon we contacted one of the BWA (Botswana Work camp Association who we had done the project through) members to see if we could stay at his that evening. He was very gracious and collected us from town. Theri, a man of few words works for the copper mine and obviously has a pretty good salary, as he lives in one of the exclusive compounds on the outskirts of town, with shared volleyball net and swimming pool. Unlike a lot of people in Africa his home has two stories and it was very spacious. I had the couch and got to try my new sleeping bag out. I had a thoroughly good nights sleep.

On Sunday we got a mini bus taxi back into town and caught the Maun bus to Nata. Once again I found it very uncomfortable and cramped but tried to not show my distress as much. Once at Nata (about 6 hours north of Fransictown) we got some lunch and I said my goodbyes to Marika and Paul as they were travelling up to Kasane that day were as I had decided to spend a couple of days in Nata to go and visit the Salt Pans (famous for Top Gear driving over them a few years back). I booked myself into Sami's Guesthouse on the outskirts of the dust town. Rooms were quite reasonably priced. The town of Nata is no more than a few stores and some houses along a very dusty stretch of road. I saw numerous sand storms while walking around the town. Another English lad Joe was also staying at the Guesthouse so I persuaded him to go to the salt pans with me the following day as it would work out cheaper. That evening we headed into town for a few drinks and met some of the locals. One girl, Puni, wanted to go to Kasane with us and could organise for us to stay at her friends house if we paid for her bus ticket. I took her number down but was unable to contact her as my phone had run out of credit.

On the Monday 29th headed to the Salt Pans early. It was still very cold at this point. Our guide drove us around the key areas where we saw a number of birds, and lots of animal tracks including Hippo footprints. The family had become stranded there when there normal trail had become flooded in the surprisingly high rains during the summer months so they were unable to find there way to there normal watering hole so had taken up residency at the salt pans. The Pans in the dry season normally have no water on them but because of the abnormally high rain levels they were under about a meter of water. As they are so flat you could walk from one side of them to the other and only ever be wading through one meter deep water. The pans are so enormous they disappear into the horizon. Apparently at sun set they are particully impressive as the sun sets over the water and casts a silvery sheen to it's surface.

Once back at the Guesthouse we packed and headed to the bus stop. After some time waiting the Kasane bus finally turned up. It was empty so we had complete isles to ourselves. The scenery out of the window slowly but dramatically changed from the sun scorched semi desert environment with few trees and different shades of browned grass and bushes to a very green and quite Forrest like setting. The closer we got to the Zambezi river the more different shades of green appeared along with ever increasing amounts of trees. This is one of the few places in Botswana where the climate is wet enough to grow crops. The rest of the country depends heavily on it's live stock that is exported to Europe.

Once at Kasane we tried a number of guesthouses and lodges which were either full or far too expensive. We finally found Waterlilly Lodge where a twin room for me and Joe was quite reasonable. I had been informed by lots of people in Maun and Francistown as well as Gabs that in Kasane the elephants and bison walk down the streets all day long. We saw none which was highly annoying. That evening we went out for some drinks and discovered that although Kasane is very charming the night life is pretty non existent. I have decided that I will head to Zambia tomorrow as very little to do in Kasane.

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