In the 3 years that Mr B and I have been living in Bots we've been quite lucky with visitors. My parents have been 3 times, once bringing my Uncle with them, Mr B's have been twice, and so far two lots of friends have been with another one on the way.
When we first told people we were moving to Bots, many people had heard of the country but really had no idea where it was. Most even now think it is part of South Africa, which I guess is sort of close being as they are neighbours and both part of the group of countries deemed as Southern Africa, but it is its' own country and despite the fact that it is probably the safest African country in terms of living and travel, it is often not known or thought about.
So when we left Australia those 3 years ago I said to many of our friends and family, that this was a brilliant opportunity for them to visit Africa if the idea has ever crossed their radar; come visit, use us, and make the most of us being there .....
Well like I said, so far 3 friends have done that, another is about to, and a few had intentions but unfortunately for them it hasn't worked out yet. It is a long way to come, expensive to a certain extent, and unknown too I guess. The unknown is always scary, and Africa's reputation doesn't necessarily help. But Bots is perfectly safe with lots to see and do and is a good jumping off point for the rest of Southern Africa.
Tanya and JC were our first non-family visitors. Tanya is my oldest and dearest friend - we've been in each other's lives since we were 6, growing up through Primary School and High School together, and she has stuck by me always, despite my being shipped off to boarding school, and all the moving around I have since done once school and uni finished. We've always managed to keep in touch, and stay in each other's lives. Months can go by without talking but we always pick things right back up. She's in London now with her fiance JC, who is an absolutely lovely, wonderful guy. And lucky for us, they both have the travel bug bad!!! When I told T we were moving to Africa, she looked it up straight away and started making a plan. She was determined to come visit.
And so they did. Unfortunately their visit ended up coinciding with our return from a visit to Australia when LL was 7 months. It wasn't a big deal though and we instead organised for them to head straight to the Okavango for 4 nights, while we returned, unpacked, did washing and then re-packed and drove to Maun to pick them up.
Their visit was actually perfect timing. It meant Mr B and I had no time to dwell over leaving our families and Australia, and we got right back into life in Bots. It was also perfect in that until then we hadn't been anywhere in Bots since having LL. We needed to get back out there, and give travelling in Africa with a baby a go. (Yes we had just been brave and travelled to and from Australia with a 6 month old, but this was completely different. This was Botswana, Africa, with a baby .... ) Of course it was all perfectly fine, and we managed and had a wonderful time.
Because we were tired and the drive to Maun from Francistown is just over 5 hours we decided to overnight there with Tanya and JC before driving on to Kasane first thing the following morning. I contacted Glen, a travel agent in Maun that we often use, to ask for accommodation recommendations. He suggested Thamalakane River Lodge. It was a great suggestion - comfortable rooms with just enough space for a travel cot, a nice outlook onto the Thamalakane River, neatly manicured gardens, and a delicious restaurant.
I had booked us in to River View Lodge, a small guest house run by the parents of the owner of the local Francistown pharmacy. Several friends in town had recently stayed there and said it was worth trying as it was a lot more reasonably priced than the bigger lodges, more initimate, and possibly better suited for those travelling with a baby. They were right. Elna and Wilco could not do enough for us. Their individual chalets were comfortable, spacious, and more than large enough to comfortably stay with LL, a travel cot and all his baby paraphenalia.
River View Lodge is right on the Chobe River, which was in flood while we were there. The Lodge has a pool, as well as separate bar, dining and lounge areas. Breakfast is included, and other meals can be provided upon request. The food was delicious and we dined there both nights of our stay.
|First time in the travel cot|
|Much preferring the big bed!|
Because we arrived in Kasane a little later than we expected, we did a quick check-in, left Mr B and LL at the guest house for a nap, and sped off to Chobe Safari Lodge to see if we could make one of their afternoon boat cruises. For some reason I thought these cruises left at 2pm; thankfully they didn't leave until 3pm and we made it with plenty of time to spare. Time enough in fact for some lunch by the pool.
The cruise as always was fantastic, and Tanya and JC thoroughly enjoyed it. We saw lots of birdlife, cape buffalo, elephant, crocodile, and hippo. Unfortunately no lion or other cats, but as the river was in flood, many of the inland waterholes would have had water and as such a lot of animals then have no reason to come down to the river. T and JC were elephant spotting though; they had seen LOTS of lion and leopard in the Okavango!!
After a quick lunch we made our departure for F'town. It was the quickest visit to Kasane/Chobe/Victoria Falls Mr B and I have ever done. We have since realised you really need to stay for a minimum of 3 nights in order to see and do everything at a more reasonable pace. T and JC didn't have a lot of time though, they were due to be back on a plane in the next day or so, and they still wanted to see where we lived.
We filled the remaining days with a tour of Francistown, some quality playtime with LL, and a visit to Mr B's worksite.
Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. But thankfully not for long .... Christmas in Australia was on the agenda for all of us ...