Encounters with Elephants on the Road in Botswana

On my cycling tour through Botswana, I experience breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable encounters with wildlife, including elephants on the roadside and thrilling boat rides in Chobe National Park. Despite technical challenges and rustic overnight stays in bush camps, I enjoy immersing myself in the untouched wilderness before heading to Namibia.

Stage 53: Livingston to Kasane, 93 km, 486 hm

Our tour today boasts stunning scenery. Unfortunately, we haven't spotted any animals yet, although there are supposed to be some along this route. It's likely because we didn't set off early enough (departure at 6:30 am...!!!), but we're hopeful for some sightings later in the day.

We're crossing the border into Botswana. The formalities are swiftly taken care of, and we quickly exchange currency for Pulas, the local currency.

Installing a SIM card took up quite some time. Since physical SIMs have proven to be much better than eSIMs, we took the detour of 20 km. It was worth it – we're now online and connected! ;-)

Afterward, we quickly set up camp, took showers, and headed out onto the boat. Today, we're planning to take a tour on the Chobe River in the Chobe National Park. It's beautiful! From the boat, we can observe elephants, antelopes, wildebeests, hippos, and crocodiles.

Stage 54: Kasane to Pandamatenga, 106 km, 301 hm

Today and tomorrow, we find ourselves on routes where there are many elephants. Unlike any other countries we've traveled through, Botswana is incredibly sparsely populated. This means we're cycling through the wilderness, keeping an eye out for elephants.

Our tour leader gave us some guidelines last night in case we encounter any animals. Today, I spotted a single herd, albeit from a distance.

Stage 55: Pandamatenga to Elephant Sands, 149 km, 171 hm

The routes in Botswana are very flat, so I usually arrive at the campsite quite early. However, today we saw three elephants by the roadside, which was a very interesting but also intimidating encounter. Fortunately, our tour guide was nearby in a car! She safely escorted us (there were four of us cyclists at the time) past the huge animals!

Elephant Sands, our campsite for today, offers elephants a watering hole. This means that elephants come in search of water in the late afternoon/evening. The campsite and other accommodations are very well secured, allowing us to observe the animals up close.

Stage 56: Elephant Sands to Planet Baobab, 150 km, 191 hm

Today, we embarked on another long and flat tour. However, the area is much more interesting than yesterday, with a beautiful savannah landscape filled with numerous baobab trees and countless termite mounds. Initially, we faced quite a bit of crosswind, but later on, we were blessed with a strong tailwind, which was fantastic for covering 150 km of flat terrain!

Planet Baobab is a small resort with an abundance of incredibly beautiful baobab trees. As most of the tents were set up, a storm suddenly arrived, the sky opened up, and rain poured down from above... Within minutes, the tents were submerged in water...

Rest day in Planet Baobab

After last night's downpour, everyone just wants to have a dry and relaxing day. Fortunately, the sun is shining, and everything can be dried out. I dismantle my tent, dry everything, and set it up again in another (hopefully safer) spot. As usual on a rest day, it's time for laundry, bike maintenance, and plenty of eating!

Stage 57: Planet Baobab to Bush Camp, 124 km, 93 hm

Fortunately, it didn't rain overnight, so everything can be packed up dry. On today's tour, we should have another chance to experience wildlife in the wild, and sure enough, suddenly an elephant appears on the roadside.

Fortunately, he quickly decides NOT to change sides of the road; he turns and disappears. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this was my only "encounter"; other cyclists actually had more luck!

Bush camps are always very interesting; we camp "somewhere" under the open sky, everything is very rustic, there's nothing to do, no internet, no distractions... very relaxing!... and in the mornings, we're all always very quickly "ready to go".

Stage 58: Bush Camp to Maun, 97 km, 110 hm

After a night under the starry sky, I set off on my bike pretty early. The wind is favorable, and I want to make the most of it. Riding alongside Richard, we're surprisingly fast, despite the wind being quite strong. Drafting behind each other is simply fantastic.

We arrive in Maun quickly and have enough time to search for a tube for Richard. It's actually not that easy, as the valves don't fit our bike pump. It's incredible the technical problems one can encounter on a bike trip :-)

In Maun, we have another rest day. At the "Spar," we can replenish our supplies of sweets... soon, we'll be heading to Namibia!

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