Our third day in the bush began much like our second: early wake up, safari drive, back at camp for lunch. On this drive, we did manage to find a new pride of lion who were eating a buffalo, but they were far from the road and difficult to see. We also got our first real look at Baobab trees, some estimated to be over 1000 years old. But, for the most part, it would only serve as a prelude to the real adventure for the day – the Chobe River cruise.
After lunch we boarded our trucks for a quick drive into Kasane where – after quickly trying to take advantage of 5 minutes of wifi to unsuccessfully check SAT scores – we boarded a large boat for a river tour. This tour is always a highlight of the trip. We get to see hippo, crocodile, lechwe, monitor lizards, and more far closer than our truck will ever allow. Of course, the guides keep us at a safe distance, but we are still able to get into position for some great camera shots. One of the biggest thrills on the cruise was watching the elephant cross the river. The bigger ellies can cross without much trouble, but the younger, smaller ones need to swim. They use their trunk as a snorkel and sort of porpoise their way across. The crown of their head breaks the surface of the water, followed by the arch of their back, and ultimately their tail. It’s an awkward motion, but very effective – their trunks sticking out at periscope depth throughout the entire process. We returned back to camp for dinner, sunburned and exhausted. After the previous night’s experience, though, few went to bed early, hoping to catch a glimpse of a honey badger or leopard. While we did hear some lion far off in the distance, there was no action to reward their patience.
Finally, on Friday, it was time for us to return to Maun. The easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to get from Kasane to Maun is to fly. However, commercial flights between these towns are few and far between, so people typically hire charters. The charter company that we were working with did not have their big plane available, so we needed to fly to Maun on several different flights. These are exactly the kinds of planes my father flew. Single and double engine Cessna, mainly holding 4 & 6 passengers. Some of the kids were really excited about this opportunity, others were a bit more wary. I am proud to say that everyone stepped up by taking these flights, with a few even tackling some major fears, and we all arrived safely in Maun – with only a few minor bouts of nausea.
Shortly after we arrived in Maun, I was informed that our container had arrived only a few hours before. This was a shock to me as it was supposed to be here weeks ago, but an even bigger shock that we had to unload the entire thing before 4pm AND find space to put all of the boxes. For those that were not able to join us for the loading, we packed over 500 boxes of books, clothing, shoes, sports equipment, bikes, cribs, and more into the container. It took a year to collect all of these items and about 4 hours just to load with over 20 adults and teenagers lending a hand. Bana Ba Letsatsi had 3 adults and a handful of 11 and 12 year olds to help out and about 6 hours to do it in. So we quickly went to our hotel, had a quick lunch, and with 5 resilient volunteers set off to BBL to lend a hand. We managed to get everything unloaded and filled three classrooms with the boxes – on Monday we will begin distributing the goods to the organizations in Maun so desperately in need of teaching materials and supplies.