It’s 4am as we prepare to leave for an adventure into the salts, which was my first time even though I’ve lived in this country for 17 years! And like every trip I’ve had with family and family friends, this too, was following the “Indian Standard Time.” The idea was to get make sure the safari cars meet us there by 4:30AM so we can leave by 5AM. Instead 4:30 is when some of our friends were waking up…ah well. We did finally leave by 6AM though haha. As the drive starts, it gets cold…really cold. Since the car is open, the air is chill, and we are moving relatively fast.
50KM out of Maun and one of the safari cars broke down! The company quickly sends in another car to replace this one, but it was going to take some time. So we decide, might as well have breakfast. This is Botswana, and that too in the Maun region — there’s something awesome pretty much everywhere. Our first stop, the Boteti River, next to the bridge over the river, by a small village called Motopi. Not much wildlife here, but bird watchers and people who just want a relaxing time will enjoy this location. Right as we were done with breakfast, our ride arrives.
As we drive down the highway, we see our first game, the giraffe. It’s not uncommon for wild animals, especially zebras, giraffes, and elephants to cross the highway. Even though the sides are mostly fenced, it can happen…quite a lot. Surprisingly we saw more giraffes on the road than in the park.
We finally reach the salt pans within Nxai. It’s a large open area that has dried up and looks beautiful. And it’s HOT! Super hot. The winds blowing in your face do the exact opposite of cooling you down. The popular set of trees — which, unfortunately, I couldn’t get good pictures of — called Baines’ Baobabs are indeed a sight to behold. Should you visit Botswana during rainy seasons, spotting wildlife within the area is fairly easy due to the flat open lands.
Spotting wildlife in this heat was a little tougher than we expected. Granted Nxai is not as popular due to its unpredictability of game, we still expected something. We also did go off-season, in August, whilst recommended times are usually December – March. After 2 hours of driving within the park, we finally get to see our first game. The African Elephant, or as people call them, natures architects. We also finally got the only source of water in the park for these animals, a man-made waterhole. It’s extremely common to see lots of Elephants and other wildlife throughout the day here.
As we continue our journey a little more before sunset, we see a few more animals in the vast open area with very little trees. We laugh a bit at the name of one of the birds, Kori Bustard. Childish? Yes. But it kept us entertained for a bit.
It’s getting close to sunset, and we return to the waterhole one more time to see the beautiful sunset. As always, one of the best sunsets! Having more animals there sets up the perfect environment to take pictures, and after a picture or two, just sitting back and enjoying the gorgeous view is something you will not regret.
We rush towards our camp grounds as soon as the sun set. A hot day, but a very nice, cool evening. Setup a bonfire, eat dinner, and just enjoy the peace and quite — minus our loud group haha. A wonderful end to day 1 🙂