So finally we reached Botswana. Again, it was a 70 km ride from Vic Falls to Kasane, and then about one hour from Kasane to Muchenje, going through the Kasane international airport (which made Isa feel pretty safe about her flight back with Air Botswana... not). When we arrived, we were stunned by the beautiful view and welcomed by very friendly stuff.
The very nice thing about Muchenje lodge (muchenje.com) was that in the price we paid everything was included. Not only meaning all inclusive with drinks and food, but also all possible activities. So one could choose to go for the morning drive, the full day cruise, and the night drive, if he/she had the energy, without having to think of the cost per activity. Sometimes in many lodges activities are charged extra, and this imposes a limitation, even if only psychological, to what one can experience. We spent 3 nights there, and all of us decided independently what to do. We went all together on the very first day for the late afternoon drive (many many birds there..), then for the full day cruise drive, but then we all took various drives depending on our mood, energy, or laziness. All meals are served on two communal tables, which gave us the opportunity to meet and talk with many other guests. The atmosphere was always upbeat during these moments. We had our individual huts (2 persons in each one)- on which baboons seem to enjoy jumping and rumbling in the morning hours.
We were "assigned" our own guide and a rover on our own (being 6 loud women we also guessed nobody would want to join us!!!). The guide name was Kabelo, which in no time it became "Che bello" and the poor guy learned all the words we would use during the drive, namely "elefantino", "bufalino", "uccellino"... all diminutive for some big animals in facts....! .
The best way to enjoy the Chobe National Park is on a boat ride- it just gives you the right perspective, when herds of animals come and drink. Only it was quite a ride by car to get to the jetty- and of course when we went, it was the coldest day!
And yes, many birds can be seen, busy fishing and eating and flying around. We had lunch in a peaceful spot, first populated by impalas, then by elephants and then by a giraffe that took painfully forever to drink. This is what get stained in my memory, every time I am lucky enough to be in the bush- the peace, the calm with which these animals move, the colors of dried plants and the deep blue sky, the softness of the yellow grass once the light turns orange at sunset. It is a sense of cosmic peace, the only place where I feel "one" with what is surrounding me, where we are not intruders but merely observers, where we are not welcome but simply bared, where we are ignored when we would like to be seen. This is why going to the bush makes you only want to return more. This is the catch. Somewhere I have read " I wish I was someone who is going to South Africa for the first time". The first time is like a big hit in the heart, a breathless continuous emotion, a strong drunken feeling of amazement. Then it's all about going back, longing to see those places that gave us such feelings. And when we are back, we take it all in, every detail, every color, every one of those big clouds, it's a mental exercise to make sure that we don't miss anything, that we get embraced by all the beauty, because we know we are going to need the sharp memory of everything once we will leave again. And so it goes. So it's Mal d'Africa..
So eventually we had to say goodbye to Chobe, to Muchenje and to Botswana. We were scheduled to fly out all together from Kasane to Gaborone and then there to Johannesburg with Air Botswana. For some unknown reasons, Marta and I (originally it was Marta and Isabella) had the above mentioned itinerary, while Kate, Jane, Donatella and Isabella were "upgraded" to a direct flight to Johannesburg. We did not have much choice, so we just split and hoped to see each other soon in Joburg! It was a looong wait for our flight to Gaborone, so late that we thought we might even miss our connection. But then we though that Air Botswana, with a fleet of 4 planes, might as well wait for each other. And so it was actually. The flight to Gaborone was on the smallest airplan I had ever been in my life. We could not stand straight, and it was "self-service"- a cooler-box was close to the cockpit, and we could stand and serve ourselves.
And it did go flawlessly- we landed one hour after the other ladies, and we drove to Jane and Geoff's house for a delicious poiki dinner. Here we had to chance to tell poor Geoff about all our adventures, and laughs, and details, and again laughs. The protagonist of the evening was Benjie, who was pretty happy to have all the attention of these Italian ladies...
And then all of a sudden it was over- but we could still forget about our flights during the sunny day in Johannesburg, while we strolled in Hype Park, and we lunched at Bellini's, and we rode on Kate's car with the top down, until really there was no time left and we had to go.
Thank you Jane and Katherine, thank you South Africa, thank you Cape Town even if the weather was crap, thanks Vic Falls for drenching us with your spray, thanks little fluffy elephants to make us laugh, thank you Kabelo for showing us a lion and taking us to the designated areas, thanks for Air Botswana to taking us back with our luggage, thanks to my sisters and mother who agreed to go together on this adventure. Thank you to my life, which is full of luck and beauty and I can't wait to see what will happen next.