A 22-day self drive adventure safari in a Hilux 3.0 D4D sponsored by AVIS took us around Botswana in a quest to see how Batswana live let alone explore beautiful Botswana. Self-drive safaris are not well explored by Batswana but a very good way to explore untouched habitats of our beautiful country.
Gaborone to Struizendam
Our first leg of the trip took us to Struizendam located in the Kalahari Desert. This is a place strictly for those on 4 wheel drive vehicles and adventure motorbikes. For my colleague Thalefang Charles and me, it was the Hilux D4D, which climbed the sand dunes with ease while we passed other vehicles stuck. We got to watch and photograph amazing sunset and beautiful sand dunes and don’t bother much about those in Namibia because we definitely have something this side though activities are limited.
Exploring Gcwihaba caves without a guide
Gcwihaba caves are a no go area for the feint hearted especially if you want explore the caves without a guide like we did. Located in the northwestern corner of Botswana and a UNESCO world heritage site, Gwihaba caves formerly known, as Drotsky’s cave are a magnificent site that president Ian Khama has vowed to make the site a world tourist major attraction site. We entered the cave early morning without a guide on the main entrance.It was not by choice that we entered the cave by our selves but there was no one within site even after spending a night camping in the designated campsite. The cave was dark and had to rely on our headlamps to navigate. While inside the cave, we see feathers of dead guinea fowl that tells us some predator probably feeds in the caves but we go on further without fear. We entered a small opening inside the cave and much darker than where we entered. While exploring the dark part of the cave, we are caught by excessive heat and it feels like someone just put us in a very hot pot. After being in the cave and walking slowly in fear of sink holes, we decide to walk back to where we started as the heat was getting more intense and heart beats increasing. We departed the cave and headed to Xai Xai after an exhilarating cave experience and I would like to return and explore fully, maybe the president will read my article and invite me on his site visit.
Visiting a traditional healer in Xai Xai
The Motswana I found in Xai Xai was a man named Keeme who claimed to know the inside and outside of the cave like no other and tells us he’s been inside the cave with the president. I told him that I was tired from driving long distance of sandy terrain and he offers to take me to a traditional healer. For the experience of it I agree and I bid farewell to Thaleng Charles and promise to meet him by the car but he has no idea what I am up to. We went on a walk till we reached an elderly woman whom Keeme communicates with in Sesarwa and I had no idea what they were talking about. The elderly woman does not want to be photographed while Keeme has no problem with facing my mean Canon EOS 7D. We proceeded to the bush where she shows us a plant and tells Keeme to start digging and remove the roots of the plant. The woman takes a piece of the root and starts to chew on it while Keeme watches. I am asked to face the old woman who takes out the piece of chewed root and rubs it on her throat then on my throat and makes noises that almost made me run from the bushes but I tried to be brave especially after being in a very huge and dark cave. I am told not to show the roots to people and to boil them in two liters of water to help ease my sore muscles.
Going up the Mountain of the Gods
Tsodilo Hills also a UNESCO world heritage site and also known by locals to be frequented by ancestral spirits. Our mission in Tsodilo Hills was to go up the cliff trail then later do the male trail where the highest point in Botswana is. The cliff trail is where one can find a cove with water that is believed to be full of spirits and one cannot fetch the water without praying to the ancestral spirits first. This made the cliff trail even more interesting for me. Our guide Kanyinga seemed not to know much about the hills so half the time we relied on what we have read about in books and making sure we do not go against the taboos of the area. As we approached the cove, we asked our guide Kanyinga to pray for us and ask the Gods to draw the holy water. Kanyinga agrees to pray for us but tells us he’ll pray in his language Sesarwa. We closed our eyes and he prayed in tounges I could not encode. As he prayed, the water made sound as if it was boiling then all got quiet till the prayer was over and he told us it was now ok to fetch the water. Thalefang was the first one to fetch the water and the same sound made by the water during prayer was heard again. My turn came and Charlie asked me to be careful and not fall in the water. Kanyinga tell him that nothing drowns in the water, as the water will push you out not mater how heavy you are. I fetched the water in two 500ml bottles and it was on the second bottle that the water made the same noise as though it was boiling. We drink and washed our faces with the water with hope of luck and fortune to come our way someday. Another word of caution is for us not to share the water with anyone. Whoever wants the water, they should go fetch it them selves.