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Crossing the Dark Continent
After the "extreme games" in Zambia, follows a unique safari in Botswana unexplored, also known as the "Switzerland of Africa" ...
Those that really know for Botswana? With the edge of my mind I remembered that this is the country for which it spoke to me for three consecutive days and nights the owner of the hostel in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The last ten years organizes trips from Johannesburg to Livingstone in Zambia, crossing the specially designed jeep across the desert of Kalahari. I think he was some kind of dependence on the Kalahari, he considered somehow home. He told me incredible stories that had happened, as when he left an English tourist to take photos found him after two days in complete dehydration, some 500 meters from the camp!
Then talk to me about her, he considered the single point real wildlife in Africa, since all the other parties had somehow mastered from civilization. Even his last words before I was "Ntimitris, Dodd forgket of reed bookmaker is not Krai offs Kalahari" (Dimitri, do not forget to read the book The crying of the Kalahari)!
These pictures were returning in my mind, and along with David, a Swiss chef from Davos, squeezed into the bus, we went to the border crossing of Kazoungkoula. To travel on this passage was not at all easy, especially if you include the complications of Murphy's Law!
Already from the previous day, Murphy had shown his teeth, and with a regulation just two weeks, travelers lose their right to leave Zambia for a few days-to visit, for example, Botswana-ki had to pay a small fee to extend the Zambian visa. Also, anyone who came out of the country will have to adopt a new visa entry, ie, about another 50 dollars. It is conceivable that the extra amount is not so excessive, but when you consider how many such misadventures of $ 50 can happen on a trip a few months, then realizes that the budget can be increased up to 50%.
The passage of Kazoungkoula not exactly pass. You must take a taxi from Livingstone for a few kilometers outside the city, then find bus to the border, to finish with a bureaucratic maneuver between lorries and trucks and find a good place in the shade to wait for the riverboat -raft to cross the Zambezi Gorge, a natural boundary Zambia and Botswana.
All this, together with the issuance of visa Botswana, completed by 6:00 p.m. when it closes the passage. How we did not even remember. It just comes to my mind the image that goes down the hatch nutshell and under the wrath of a tropical rain run amid the mud, six ten the fastest pentakosari of our lives with all the equipment back. Have managed! The result, however, was to be at the Botswana hand, in the middle of nowhere is. Eventually, one of the trucks stopped and we went as the Thebe River Camping just outside of Kasane, the border city of Botswana and base for the national park Tsompos. The stay cost only $ 8, but it was one of the most organized lodge I had seen so far, right on the river. There he found the time to ask and arrange the days and especially to learn about the very Botswana.
GETTING TO THE COUNTRY
Botswana is a country the size of France, only 85% is covered by the Kalahari Desert. In the remaining 15% live peacefully just 1.6 million people of different races. This "peace" has really huge importance for African democracy.
Many call it the "Switzerland of Africa", as the drums of war have no sound for several decades and the election does not mean civil war, as in most neighboring countries. One of the most impressive statistics of Botswana is that continuous peace and political stability that ranked as the country with the highest economic growth worldwide in the period 1966 - 1997!
Apart from diamonds and gems, Botswana relies on tourism, not only the daring would want to cross the Kalahari, but especially those who will visit the Okavango Delta, one of the most famous and impressive parts of the African continent. The Okavango River, after crossing Angola and Namibia, lead in Botswana and creates a delta area of 17,000 square kilometers, a vast maze of islands and lakes and an ecosystem with rare biodiversity.
The level of delta fluctuates significantly in half-circles, making islands disappearing under the waters during the summer and reappear in the winter, causing and the corresponding mass migration of animals other inside the delta and other crossing the Kalahari Desert.
The LONG ROAD TO THE DELTA
The nearest town in the delta is the Maun and despite the fact that it was difficult to abandon the Thebe River Camping, woke up around 4 in the dawn to pack the tents and chest Avenue, waiting to get a taxi or anyway a wheeled us go as the bus stop. Our destination in Maun. The hours passed and threatening to 6 only pass was a scooter and an extended family elephants lazily crossed the road. Finally, as if by magic, at 6.30 or plasma awoke and passed a tractor that took us almost as much-needed bus stop. There he saw what awaited us the next few hours, if not days.
Attitudes were stacked enough people and waited patiently both unique and buses, which was not enough as all others went to Maun, Nata but in a city several hours south, where, if we were lucky, they would pass a vehicle -this time-to Maun. When the first bus arrived, became a real panic and literally caught out napping. After about half an hour, which came in the second, we catch strategic positions. The funny thing was that the number of buses was not random, as the second bus sucked literally everyone. I had never imagined how many can fit in a bus!
At Nata we were quite lucky, not because the response to Maun came on time, but it was late enough to catch to bring our backs, who had taken a permanent attitude "C" or "L" at best.
In the evening we finally managed to get out of the Back to the Bridge Backpackers, one of the most famous lodge in the area. The owner was a really special personality. Had left many years the bustle of Johannesburg and had turned a bit of riverbank Thamalakane a small paradise. When he saw us delving holding a guitar in hand (essential accessory for such a trip) began phoning various musicians in the region a «jam session», which took-or less-as 4 in the morning.
In the end, after we had to play the "Zorba, no Sirtaki" for the umpteenth time, he asked us how many days we want to go in the delta and without many processes gave us an appointment in three hours on the dock of lodge. Nobody believed he would keep this appointment, but finally at 8 we were all on the river-singular speedboat. Was probably our impatience to live the experience of doing safari in the Okavango delta function more drastically and caffeine.
The adventure in the delta is a complicated affair if you do not find yourself there and you do not provide the necessary explanation from someone who is knowledgeable about the area. The delta covers a really huge area full of large and small islands. Divided into zones according to your position there (inner / outer, east / west) and there are scattered everywhere accommodation. These enclosures can offer services at all levels and requirements.
We as genuine lovers of adventure, we chose to use our tents and cook food on fire with our driver paying a little less than 100 euros for 3 days / 2 nights. However, many of the outlying lodge offering food / accommodation beyond all imagination, while they are accessed only by airplane (have, indeed, their own small airports), and is deeply embedded in the delta. The most famous are in the Moremi National Park and one night costs more than 1,000 to 1,500 euros per person, while the air charged separately from 200 to 400 euros.
The journey by speedboat kept somewhere half an hour and it was an incredible experience, something like running frantically with motorcycle racing at a great track and the Okavango Delta. When we arrived, we went to a small island where there was a fishing village. There we waited gathered a dozen drivers mokoro. The mokoro is essentially a kind of Indian canoes made from tree trunk and is the sole means of movement, straight to delta (if you exclude the three-seater planes!). Holds up to two passengers, luggage and guide, who directs it up like gondoliers in Venice.
Drivers mokoro area of Serongka founded the Okavango Poler Trust, a union that negotiates prices directly safari organizers, avoiding intermediaries and private arrangements, which can take off the prices at the expense of drivers. All revenues are redistributed and solely invested in the community and improve living conditions. This singular collective not only defends the rights of drivers and regulates safari to give everyone a job, but is also responsible for enforcing the rules of eco-tourism in the delta.
When we put on the mokoro and past baggage, mokoro sunk so much that the water exceeded his lips. The guide told us not to worry and enjoy your trip. I, again, amid the panic did not know what him protorotiso if accidents occur frequently or if you are hungry crocodiles in the area (;). Ultimately, removing some unnecessary things and somehow climbed mokoro. Started and the journey was something that can hardly be described. Other times we passed by endless forests with water lilies and other chanomastan dense reeds.
A vast land, where everything looked the same. The guide, however, seemed to know well where we go. The many trails had opened some kind of network of roads and highways amid the reeds and bump the other travelers. Drivers stopped for a bit, exchanged news and then continues. In some "cross" was created, indeed, traffic chaos, when 10-15 mokoro stuck on top of one another.
TIME ON SAFARI
The program Okavango Delta was tight and the preceding safari in South Africa, where it remained unused time. Woke up very morning and after 2-3 hours in the mokoro, we came to another island in the delta, where did «walking safari». The walking safari is an experience that leaves you with mixed feelings. There are times when you walk for hours and not come across anything, but there may suddenly appear in front of you any animal.
This "any" has great significance because the second day, when we walked casually heard a noise from the bushes. The driver froze, changed 10 colors and then saw a short distance before us a Multimeter Black Mamba crossing the trail. The Black Mamba is the fastest (up to 20 km / h), most large (reaches 4.5 meters) and most poisonous snake in Africa, if not the world. The venom is so powerful that it can kill within 30 minutes, with a probability close to 100%. Fortunately, we have not been nasty, and besides that the unexpected, the rest were only pleasant surprises from hordes zebra, spectacular flocks of birds and large families elephants. One of them, in fact, our glared and arsenic started sniffs pallontas ears.
There the guide told us that the elephant is one of the most dangerous animals on the planet, rarely have natural opponent and when you feel threatened, you can scan entire villages in their wake.
The night was somewhat strange in the delta. The contact with nature was so realistic that I just woke up the survival instincts. I'm not sure if I slept really no night. But I think that internalize fully the meaning of "doze" after a short distance from our camp could hear the whole animal kingdom parading! The first night, a rather angry lone elephant bellowed at a distance less than 200 meters. On the other hand all night listening to hyenas giggling, while the second night there I had somehow fallen asleep, I hear David crying frantically, and a snake were walking around from our tents. I think that night I have not changed side, fearing any interaction with the uninvited guest.
The last morning bazaars caught us where and we did not go on safari, but we went for a few dives and mokoro driving lessons at a nearby island had permanent camps. There, surrounded by tables, plastic chairs, hammocks, refrigerators and kitchens, we felt like Neanderthals that came out of a time machine! In the afternoon we headed back to the lodge, where the owner had his spirits. Load all tenants, meals and 2-3 crates beers and we went to watch the sunset on the river Thamalakane. When we returned to the lodge, the instruments were already tuned and we waited for another "Griko Knight."
These were the last comfortable / spacious moments I remember squeezed again before the bus back to Zambia. From there we would take the tazara, the famous train that will take us to the next station was making, Tanzania.
Belize, Central America
Categoty: Travel destinations
Belize: An unknown paradise in Central America
A small country with many faces: inside you will find jungle full of important monuments of the Maya, on the coastline Creole residents speak Anglika and remind Jamaica and the islands of stunning coral reefs, sandy beaches of the Caribbean. What else would call "exotic getaway"?
Unknown to most travelers paradise faraway Belize - after few know that it was the former British Honduras. Maybe not so strange, since it is one of the newest members of the international community. The tropical forests of mahogany, pine, Ceiba, breadfruit and tsiklodentra was why Spaniards and Britons claimed Aesop sovereignty of Belize. Eventually, the British prevailed and added the British-as they called it-Honduras to the list of colonies. But in 1964 the country gained its own government with British supervision in 1981 became an independent nation in 1983 officially changed its name to Belize.
Small country with an area of only 23,300 square kilometers and 60% of its territory, and its territorial waters be designated protected areas and national parks. Among them the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere, length 290 km, declared by UNESCO World Heritage Site and includes 70 different species of coral and 400 species of fish. In the north the territory of the country is flat and the southern regions dominated by the Maya Mountains. Over 540 bird species have been recorded-among them many species of migratory, toucan, woodpecker, Macau and many parrot species-and the first protected area of jaguar (an endangered species) and animals that belong to the family of felines. Dense jungle crossing rivers, between mountains, waterfalls, caves (very impressive that of St. Germain in Ntangkrigka that it labyrinth of cavernous rooms with narrow passages, stalactites and stalagmites, underground rivers and streams of light from openings in the ceiling) dominate territory - and among them the ruins of a
Categoty: Travel destinations
Bahamas, Nasos: The profound beauty of "shallow sea"
Timeless and always a favorite destination for both Americans and Europeans, the Bahamas offer hidden thrills to those who unravel the glossy wrapper
Less than three hours had passed since we left New York with dismal gray sky when the airplane crew informed us that we approached the Nassau International Airport and landing process had already begun.
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Seven hundred islands and more than 2,000 islands stretching for 1,200 km on the western side of the Atlantic, and not in the Caribbean-between in Florida from the north and Haiti and Cuba from the south. Two of these have Greek names, Andros is the largest and most primitive island and Liberty, welcomed its first British-b
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