update

I’m helping a friend who has an operating deadline less than 2 months from now. Fortunately there’s something relevant I can contribute to, so we’ve been busy.

Our 05:30 start into the Delta. Recently I’ve been doing this a few days a week.

We see the animals and birds in dense concentrations around us when the sun comes up, like this

I’ve been learning the rules about encounters with the wildlife than can hurt you. In the above situation, they’re pissed because we’re between the water and where they want to get to, the trees to the left. The same is true of hippos in reverse.

The most dangerous are the gigantic buffalo. If you surprise one, they go into an instant fight-or-flight thinking process for maybe 5 seconds. The idea is to turn sideways and not directly look at them. If they charge, run. If there are a group of you, run in different directions.

If an elephant charges, run and rip off your hat or shirt. They’ll generally stop, grab it and smell it, before continuing, if they do, buying you time.

There are tons of crocs on the banks between the papyrus. They’re safe because the don’t chase backwards over land.

Below, a nice spot below where the elephants come to drink. They much prefer the mineral-rich muddy pools to the gin-clear water of the channels and lagoons. CN makes brunch, maybe 6 weeks ago. Something has changed since then…

Next post, we’ll talk about this

so 3

I’ve been working on a simple project here for a while. One of the 2 reasons I’ve been quiet.

Here’s the company name, after a sensible 30 seconds of sober thought in an office in downtown Maun. Not a booze/weed/can’t-remember-what-else induced catastrophe at 3 in the morning like the big ARC was years ago

I kindof like it. It’s deceptively innocent.

so 2

Here’s a beautiful hornbill, about 18″ tip-to-tip

I’ve been reading about each of the exotic birds I see regularly. They all seem to have an interesting trait or two. This Southern Red-billed hornbill is a bit unremarkable for peculiarities though, other than its beauty, except the ‘locked-up’ status of the female during incubation. From Wiki:

During incubation, the female lays three to six white eggs in a tree hole, which is blocked off with a plaster of mud, droppings and fruit pulp. There is only one narrow aperture, just big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and the chicks. When the chicks and the female are too big for the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall. Then both parents feed the chicks.

(just practicing posting…)

so

Q: What is this?

a) a dragonfly

b) the first step in catching up on blogs?

update 2

Just 3 micro-posts, something ahead of real reports soon.

First,

the most amazing road, between Mopipi and the A3 to Maum. To the left is the great Kalahari plain north of the pans. To the right the beginning of the greenery south of the delta. Storm ahead, like everyday somewhere over or around the Okavango in rainy season

In rainy season (now) the clouds appear out of nowhere fast. The dark cloud bottoms get close to the ground and above the sky roils. The storm lasts between 30 minutes and 4 or 5 hours. When the localized cloud above you bursts it is the heaviest I’ve ever seen, worse than the worst of Indonesian monsoon.

Here I’m running into whiteout. You can see how quickly heavy turns into very heavy and you have to stop the car

Edit: Car? Yes, not bike. It’s a one day 950K drive to Gaborone, where I’m working on something, which is twice too far for me, on my windshieldless enduro.

Second,

far to the north, on the Boro river channel, the largest of the delta tributaries. You can follow it to Angola for a few months a year. Right now the rainy season hasn’t reached the point the delta floods. Currently there is much more land than water, and a couple of months from now there’ll be much more water than land. Here we are, a few hours north of the village of Boro. Three fish eagles ahead

The village of Boro is classic yet vanishing Botswana. If you want to see what that looks like, click below

Thirdly,

Gaborone, the capital. Below (taken out a taxi window) is the tallest building in the country. Plus the picture tells you a lot more of what you need to know

Story to follow.

update

We’re in Gaborone (Gabs), the capital city. It’s at the southern edge of Botswana (Bots), almost on the S.A. border. We’re doing business, maybe, of all strange things to happen.

Since we last posted, a lot has happened. We’ll do the posts next weekend. Here’s a nice video of cows crossing the Thamalakane River. As a storm comes in they head for home

And since we’re on fauna, a cellphone shot outside my friend Miss T’s house of an 8′ cobra eating a 3′ cobra

It can’t bite at this point, so safe to get in close.

stickers and stuff

I’ve been going very slow or not moving for months and there’s an excellent reason for that to do with a couple of friendships.

Removed some stickers from the panniers. I keep trying to remove them all but I freeze at these last ones. The top left red one was given to me by the leader of a scooter club in Indonesia, so it has high gift value. The white motomavericks sticker is CJ and John’s. They’re from Vancouver and are the among the world’s boldest distance duos and good friends. Ms S and I got the CARP (Club Atletico River Plate) sticker after watching River beat Quilmes in Buenos Aires, so it’s sacred. The “OM” sticker was from China. Andrew and Jamil found it when I was off doing something else, so high gift value. The Bolivian sticker was from the ride group I met in Peru who gifted me my first ride coca, and I told them I would ride their sticker around the world for them, a weird commitment but we were pretty high at the time.

The CDN sticker is required by law in Africa.

So all the flags are gone, yay

I was in town yesterday and saw this hippo in a field. An unusual event within city limits, so that was cool

So, this morning in paradise, I walked along the river to see what the fisherman were catching

Two species. This

and this. I want to get this post out before lunch so haven’t identified them yet

Oh yeah, I washed my riding suit in the tub. Here’s the water colour. Not so bad for a couple of months. It would be like this in India in a week, really.

Back to the bike, my Tractionators are leaking air. The front more than the rear, about 2 pounds a week. I was so surprised by this originally I thought my pencil gauge was faulty. So I went out and bought another, this electronic one. Looks bogus, but it has a CE stamp, so it must be reasonably accurate. It’s light, less than my metal pencil gauge

And here’s my micro Aerostitch compressor to reinflate. It’s 6.5 years old and as good as new. It hasn’t done a lot of work in Africa so far. But (sometimes super old people like me are slow to change) I would get one with a pressure gauge next time, if I could find one nearly as light and small. Probably doesn’t exist

Big post next.

the river 3

There’s a bridge that crosses just south of our little stretch of river, with a tall termite mound (just so you know where they live, further to our termite mating post a week ago or so). Sorry about the confusing tree background

Surface detail. After the structure, the best part

And as luck would have it, we saw our biggest Shongololo yet. It’s a work of art

And eager to move. Watch this one!

That was the 2nd movie take. My friend ruined the first one

But back to the river:

This is the middle section of our little river stretch. It really is like out of a dream

The river’s main botanical interest are the water lilies

The first time the buds open they’re a light pink, then fade to white. They close each night

If you look carefully you’ll see a small water monitor swimming through the lilies here

Here’s a bigger one, maybe 3′, on land. About 60% of the size of the monitors in Bangkok’s canals, the same size as the beauty at Galvan’s Gorge, Australia, and less than half the size of the Komodos on Rinca Island, Indonesia

Which brings us to our first bird, the African Jacana

Check out the huge toes.This is how it walks across the lilies where it spend all its time picking bugs off the leaves.

It has a unique chick rearing habit: the male does all the work, and she’s polygamous so can have multiple families going at once. More detail on this here

Sometimes there are large groups of birds, maybe 5 our 6 species within a few yards of each other

This monster is the Goliath heron. He’s about 5′ tall

And he fishes for the big ones, like below

Ugly looking catfish on the right. A good fisherman catches about one fish every 10 minutes. The ones on the left show up ion menus as ‘bream’ which the Euro tourists understand as something meaningful apparently

These prehistoric birds are very hard to get close to. They’re African Openbills and are about 3′ tall. They eat snails primarily. They’re fat and happy. Anytime they want a snail they go to the water’s edge and immediately pull one out

Every time I get within 15 feet, off they go

One with a snail in its beak

Croc time.

A cow carcus near the water’s edge

And a 5′ croc sits a few feet off shore. I guess waiting for it to decompose a bit or something. They’re Nile Crocodiles, huge like in Australia, with verified records over 20′

Here’s a little one, about 3′

Egrets. There are 3 species. You can tell them apart by beak colour

And an amazing Pied Kingfisher. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to catch one fishing. Hopefully I’ll catch it before I leave shortly

This is a Black Crowned Night Heron. A beautiful little bird, about 10″ high

Cormorant

This perfect little jewel is the Little Bee Eater

I’ve saved half of the cooler birds for another post.

So I watched a bunch of “important” Botswana cultural videos with a friend. I thought you’d think this one was interesting. It’s about a girl who wants a white boy to take her away, haha. Note the corny Canada picture at 3:25. Matebele by Charma Gal

But no matter, “very Botswana” says my friend, of the couple of dozen we watched this week.

Change of topic:

(You know how in Australia they shorten words like sunglasses to sunnies. And BBQ to barbie. In Botswana it’s even easier. Botswana is Bots, the capital Gaberone is Gabs, etc)

Anyway

In both Namibia and Bots meat is the thing (cooked well done by the indigenous, never bloody). Because there’s a lot of it, like every member of the antelope family from Springbok to Oryx, plus beef and zebra, hippo and dried elephant.

Here’s the grossest thing I’ve eaten here, a plate of Mophane worms. An expensive local delicacy. The white blob is sourgum. Really boring and rubbery

Each worm looks like this, about 2 or 3 inches long.

Actually it was pretty good. The guts had been fried out, so you were left with this crunchy and tasty shell.

The worm is actually a caterpiller of a giant moth. Pic from web

This is another local delicacy, water lily. The part you eat is the junction where the leaf stems exit the tuber. It’s mixed in with crushed beef and has a pretty nasty texture overall. Not a favourite