Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Beautiful Botswana Safari . "The Night of the Blister Beetles!" Part 2.

We left the solitude of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to set off on the next stage of our journey to Moremi and the Okavango Delta via Ghanzi and Maun.

Ghanzi is a cattle town and since the development of the Trans - Kalahari Highway it has become less of a frontier town and more of a tourist resort. Food and other provisions are readily available. We had booked in at Thakadu a game lodge on the outskirts of Ghanzi which also provides luxury tents as well as camping. The lodge had a swimming pool, proper toilet block, as well as a restaurant serving lovely food by the water hole. All the facilities were clean and well looked after. We were pleased to have a proper shower and after a good an really inexpensive meal we took to the roof tent. Security on the site was good, so we slept peacefully! 

 The swimming pool, just what you need when the temperature is 40 C

The waterhole by the restaurant.

The site is used by tour operators, but still has a very peaceful ambiance.

We left early the next day heading for Maun our last stop before setting off into the wilds again. We needed water and Harry knew of a water stop in Maun where we could fill up. After a few trips down the back lanes we found the water plant and managed to fill both vans with Botswana water, fresh and clean with a slight Botswana tang, but perfectly drinkable.

Maun is an extremely busy frontier town and filled with tourists. It certainly is a town of extremes from shanties on the outskirts to an international airport and very busy.

Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta and one of the fastest growing towns in Botswana. Donkeys and goats are everywhere! The name "Maun" means " place of reeds", a throw back to the time when there was more rain. On the outskirts of Maun we found our next night halt, the evergreen Drifters Camp. Here we would encounter the night of the blister beetles!

At this point I feel we should be playing some Hitchcock movie music. We arrived at Drifters camp just north of Maun to be told they had a slight beetle infestation, but that it was over the other side of the camp and shouldn't cause us a problem as the beetles did not fly. We pitched camp and it was a beautiful spot.

As evening drew on we noticed the beetles were gathering, but really did not take too much notice. We lit our fire and cooked a meal, sitting out under the trees. As we went up to the toilet block we noticed the beetles, crunched a few and carried on as normal. As the evening drew on the beetles massed, they were attracted to the fire and the white lights, we beat a few off and then decided to go to bed. As I got into the tent I felt a scratch on my neck but thought I had caught it with my ring and scratched myself. The morning told a different story. I had two enormous blisters on by neck and Den had one on his shoulder, they were filled with nasty yellow fluid and looked very angry. We hastily packed up and as we did so the beetles just came from everywhere, the toilet block was completely covered with black beetles, it was truly like a movie scene! We decided to leave immediately, the camp site wardens were oblivious to the beetle problem they had, we did wonder how the party they were expecting that day fared?

Here's the little blighter, looks innocent and unassuming but beware he packs a nasty secret. We travelled back to Maun and got advice from the pharmacy, cream and sterile needles to pop the blisters. We were warned us not to let any of the fluid touch new skin as it would blister again. Another lesson well learned, it's little creatures that are dangerous not big ones. The blisters took a week to heal and I wore a fetching scarf to keep the wounds covered. The blister beetles can also kill cattle if they get eaten. We thought afterwards that perhaps the green well watered grass, at Drifters had attracted them.

 Later that day we travelled to Maun Airport as Fiona had not been well, so had decided to fly back to Jo'Burg, leaving us with Harry to finish the trip. Fortunately, she managed to get a flight that day without too much of a wait, Maun Airport is certainly a busy little place. We said our goodbyes and went back to the shopping centre to stock up on drinks for the next part of the journey. As the day had almost gone we decided to pitch up at Audi Camp the other side of Maun before setting off to Moremi, here we had a pleasant beetle free stay, with plenty of cold beer in lovely surroundings and another great African steak in the restaurant.

Audi Camp a great stopping off place and worth a second visit!

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