Final Destination: Elephants Sands. We weren’t sure how, or when, but we knew that somehow we would have to end up somewhere in Botswana, between Nata and Kasane, I’m still not really sure where. Two busses, a car ride, and 5 hours later, we find ourselves standing exhilaratingly close to friendly giants.
The lodge itself was situated around an elephant watering hole, allowing us to watch as they came and went from the Bush as they pleased. The grace that their massive bodies move with is surprisingly counter-intuitive and yet thoroughly entertaining. I think I must’ve sat there for almost an hour or so, just watching as these ellies went on with their day.
A very touristy photo of myself next to elephants
After a trip that exceeded any and all expectations, it was time to go home. Off to Maun (our home town) we went, with even less direction than what we came with. We were driven 6 km to a bus stop where busses are “always” passing by. The station happened to be 6 km in the opposite direction of Maun, but we went with it. Upon arriving and waiting an hour or two or three (time really isn’t a concept for us here), we decided it was time to hitchhike. Many, many failed attempts later, an officer approached us. She must’ve been watching us fail and fail again at hitching a ride. She brought us to the border patrol and began helping us ask the crossing cars for a ride. It was quite a ridiculous sight: us four backpackers settled next to a 5 pula (around a dollar) peanut stand at the border, waiting as the security teamed up to find us a ride. Thankfully, a truck soon pulled up and decided to take two of us in.
Some 5P peanuts we posed next to the police station
My fellow traveler and I climbed in the back, giddy with excitement. Hitchhiking on the back of trucks? Definitely as exciting as it sounds. We nestled our bags and sweaters in the back, making it a comfortable rest place. The sky was as blue as blue can be and the long, winding road seemed blissfuly endless. It was a scene straight out of a movie. The warm breeze quickly put me to sleep, but at some point I woke up to arriving at the familiar Shell Station in Nata. Here, we had to grab a 4 hour bus to Maun.
A poorly taken photo on the back of our new friends’ truck
The bus ride was hot and stuffed with passengers in all the seats and aisles. Rachel, the girl sitting next to me, happened to also be 19 and studying sciences. We chatted and laughed at my broken Setswana until we arrived home. The initial sticky discomfort of the cramped journey slowly developed into a quaint appreciation for the bus and its people.
The elephants were beautiful, but the adventures to and from might have been my favourite parts of the story. I’ll end with a quote you’ve probably already heard a zillion and one times:
“Life is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sappy, but true.