Friday, January 6, 2012

Life in Botswana: Sarah's Second Trip

Another excerpt from my parent's memoirs, Life in Botswana:

This entry recounts my second trip to Africa, when my parents and I traveled to eastern Botswana and South Africa, in October, 1991. Even though the movement to end apartheid in South Africa began in 1990, it wasn't until the African National Congress won the multi-racial democratic election in 1994 before the political climate in this country began to improve significantly. We drove all over South Africa and I was struck by how friendly everyone was and also how much the people we met wanted to know about America. The exchange rate with the rand was very favorable to us so we traveled first class, as my father would say. There is less text in this post, so this is more of a photo essay – and again these are my photos!

Sarah arrived on the first weekend in October, which was another four-day holiday for Ed. Mashatu Lodge in Tuli Block had a weekend special for Botswana residents so with Sarah and our good friends the Kelleys we flew there for three nights, staying in tents. 

I got my own tent.

With my very own tree shower (with hot water!).

We saw two lionesses with cubs, a cheetah with four large cubs, elephant, warthog, impala, kudu, jackal, hyena, bush baby, aardvark, two genet cats, eland, steenbok, duiker, spring hare, wildebeest and zebra. 

As we were driving back to our tents at sunset our driver got word on his radio of a leopard spotting. We drove there, met three other vehicles, and watched a big, unperturbed, and bored leopard lying down, looking at us. We were happy that Sarah was finally able to see cats! The next morning, from a hide adjacent to a water hole near the camp Ed was able to get good, close video shots of skittish impala and quelea birds, which fly in flocks like locusts.

The night we returned we attended the large party which the President of Botswana gives every year. The next day was laundry day, and the day following the three of us drove into South Africa to Kimberley, where the Big Hole is located - the spot where diamonds were first discovered in southern Africa. 

Besides looking at the deep hole, which is half full of water, we toured the group of very interesting vintage (1890) shops and houses which adjoined it. We walked around town and visited the Africana Library, where we saw the Moffat press, the first printing press used south of the Sahara. We were shown a first edition of the first Bible to be printed in an African language (Setswana), printed on the Moffat press. We also saw first editions of books which travelers to northern Botswana and Zimbabwe had written 1810 to 1830.

We drove to Johannesburg's Jan Smuts Airport, stayed the night and early the next morning flew to Capetown on a special package arrangement. We rented a car, stayed seven nights at a good hotel at Sea Point, showed Sarah the Cape of Good Hope (where we saw six whales close to shore), the Kirstenbosch Gardens, and Groot Constantia, which was the first estate in southern Africa, and where wine was first produced. 

We spent one whole day walking atop Table Mountain and another day at the Waterfront, a big new development in the dock area with glitzy shops, restaurants, bars, jazz and boat rides. We took a tour of the harbor and saw seals and a number of freighters, including a tanker whose bow had been torn off in a collision and had been towed carefully into port. The last day we drove north up the coast and saw two wildflower preserves. After seeing Sarah off to Rio, we flew to Johannesburg and drove home.


  1. The one of your dad looking out of the "window" in the tent is my favorite.

  2. Thanks Jeff. It's actually a "hide", a hidden place that the lodge has provided so that animals can be viewed up close. I actually read a website recently where these are passé now. I guess a lot has changed in 20 years! Anyway, I do like these photos too and I appreciate your comments, as always. Hope you're well.