It was a perfect day for hiking. The morning was cool, about 25 / 26C and a nice breeze that really kept me dry. I walked to the Maun educational Park about an hour from Jump Street and was there by 9am.
It is really a small reserve that promises a dozen or so interesting species including impala, kudus, zebra birds, a local squirrel and more. I don’t think it is that small as I hiked on its trails for two hours steady and did not repeat any of them. I will try to find out its size later.
Outside the gate there are concrete statues of Africa’s big game: lion, elephant, rhino, cheetah and hippo; a gift from the employees at the Barclay’s Bank, Maun Branch. There was no one at the gate as is usual in Botswana and so I just found my way around. I even found a place to get water and the water supply in Maun, as in all main Botswana towns and cities is treated and safe. And the Maun water is good , in contrast to that in Gaborone, where it smelled muddy – as its source that I saw from the air was and muddy looking reservoir – although that may have been due to the recent heavy rains.
As I was walking around the reserve, I remembered what the driver in the Mokolodi Reserve near Gaborone, had said two weeks ago; “try to look between the trees and not at the trees. The animals are well camouflaged, and you need special eyes.” I did not see anything until someone else did first.
At the beginning of the hike I came on a picnic area that had been occupied by four people. The table was covered with Bibles, personal stuff and religious literature. I walked through quietly as I wanted to look at the river which the area bordered on. They paid no attention to me as they were in two pairs quite far apart from each other with one person on their knees, bent over and the other was on their knees, erect in front of the original holding their hands and involved in intense prayer, or so it appeared tome. I am not sure they were even aware of me and I quietly left.
I had a pleasant time hiking around but saw nothing except a large [3 feet long] lizard climbing on the side of a small building near the entrance, some squirrels as promised and many birds present more through their songs and squawking that visible.. I kept scanning the areas I was in, but nothing. I was sure there were some around as I saw tracks for a heavy, large animal and small cloven, ungulate tracks that I figured must be impala. I was getting a bit discouraged although the hike in itself was very pleasant until finally I came up on a giraffe. I snapped some pictures and watched this magnificent animal until it walked off because like a pushy tourist, I had to try getting closer for the ‘best possible photo’.
I was happy because I had seen at least one ‘exotic’ animal. I continued hiking and after about another half hour I came on a troop of baboons. They were moving across the trail area on a feeding trek led by a large male. I watched for about 15 minutes and took pictures. There must have been at least 30 of them, all ages and sizes, strung along a column that extends for a half a kilometre or more. The leader kept making a bass sound deep in his throat that carried well of a considerable distance. I assume it is to let those behind him where he was heading at all times. Very interesting: the communication and how all seemed to always be aware and responding. As I left the park at noon, I resolved to come again tomorrow for opening at 7:30 am and see if I can spot more animals earlier in the day when the animals tend to be actively feeding.
AS I was leaving the park I stopped to talk to a father and son, I assumed, a teacher and a cost accountant from a town called Nata. They immediately wanted to know about jobs in Canada and what the possibilities were. They freely offered their cell phone numbers and asked for mine. People are very interested in going to North America. Several of the staff at WAR, have questioned me at length as well and one of them said that if I knew of anyone who needed a good wife, she at age 24 was available for a serious person of over 35 years old and to give them her contact information. I just don’t say much in those conversations because what can I do. I do suggest they research on the Internet. I also make them aware Canada is dealing with a recession with lots of job loss recently just like Botswana, where the diamond mines closed a couple of months ago due to the sharp drop in international demand!
I make my way back to the chalet along the river that I hiked last week. I see a man up to his waist in the water in a swampy area and he seems to be involved in some effort to lure fish into a net. A white haired grandparent is sitting near him on the edge of the water. Flocks of egrets are up and down into the reeds like bobbing marshmallows. I make my way through the Maun Senior Secondary School grounds again, to avoid the roads and to make a short cut as it is getting hot now, the breeze has died and I want to get home.
I will return early tomorrow morning and I will wear a more camouflaged tee shirt than the white one I wore today. Maybe they won’t see me coming –ha!