1. When it rains, it rains.
Statements from locals about the predictability of the weather were mostly on the side of “It might rain, but maybe it’ll stay dry. There could be flooding too… but I think it might be sunny.” In addition to that we had entered Botswana just at the beginning of rain season which led us to the conclusion that entering the Delta would be fine (spoiler: it wasn’t). When the downpour started on our way to Gaborone it SIMPLY.NEVER.STOPPED.FOR.DAYS.
2. Your bumper becomes a graveyard on the road.
We started out with a shiny silver metal bumper on our rental Achim and after the first drive through Botswana grassland it turned entirely black. Thousands of insects had apparently died upon collision with the bumper and we had to leave it to 5 pros at the gas station to get rid of the corpses. Maybe that experience helped us to go back to veganism after the trip.
3. Abbreviation is key.
“Welcome to Bots” was the greeting we received from the border police when we entered Botswana. Since we’re not the smartest travelers, it took us some time to realize what he meant but it prepared us the trip to Gabs (we leave it up to you to figure that one out) and other special linguistic features.
4. Bots is home to one of the oldest tribes on earth.
We were definitely looking forward to spend some time in life of the San people, one of the oldest tribes in the world. The hunter-gatherers are among the oldest cultures and have descended from the first inhabitants of what is now Botswana and South Africa. As well as most other indigenous people, the San have suffered from displacement, discrimination and structural handicaps in their own country. Tourism is one way for them to make a living today and they do so by letting tourists take part in their everyday life. Unfortunately, most of them hadn’t recovered yet from the financial crisis due to Covid and the lack of visitors. Therefore, they did not offer experience when we arrived a week after reopening of the borders.
5. The one time a helicopter flight is worth its money.
I always wanted to go on a helicopter ride for the thrill of it - doors open, quick maneuvers and speed changes seemed like a lot of fun. However, a scenic helicopter flights above the New York skyline or other cities never really interested me. It seemed a lot of money for simply seeing buildings from above. I also had never considered it for the Delta, but after it was clear to us that we couldn’t enter by car (and maybe because it was someone’s birthday) we opted for the view from above. And what can I say: it was magnificent. Our awesome pilot Joe brought the experience and spotted all the wildlife from far away, taking us there (with speedy maneuvers!) and we enjoyed an hour packed with excitement. So, if you can’t take the car - fly!
6. Cows, cows, cows.
As soon as you cross the border into Botswana, get ready to hit the brakes. Cows are everywhere, some grazing next to the road while others enjoy their post-lunch nap ON the road. Especially when driving in the dark, you might end up with a whole family sleeping on the road, not even thinking about moving away. Well, then it's up to you to go off-road.