We meet our crew aboard the "Kabbo". Captain: Kaiser, Helmsman: Caltex and Ships Cook: Ernest.
A jolly crew. And I do mean Jolly.
The guest quarters are a bit compact, but comforatble. Two single beds, as shower / toilet combo closet, and a huge sliding window providing a view of the world sliding past outside.
We are on the river. Luggage on board, we cast of.
Captain Kaiser briefs us on safety precautions: fire protocols and usage of water. You can only shower while the generator is running to drive the pumps that pump the water that runs the shower that flushes the toilet that sits in the boat that Jack built.
This giant boat was built in Zimbabwe, dismantled and trucked to Botswana for re-assembly on the river.
Sturdy double story vessel with living quarters on the lower deck, and dining, entertainment and bar area on the upper deck.
Fore and aft, there are two small patio decks with table, umbrella and chairs to relax on. And to fish from.
Some of our party want to fish.
I suppose pointing out that we are in mid-stream, and that the locals are fishing close to the shores, even from mokoros with nets, wont go down well.
We coast up river at a leisurely pace. The lazy breeze belies the true temperature. Sitting up on the steers-mans deck, I listen to Caltex, the pilot, as he tells me about this and that... crocodiles, fishermen, the President building his new house on one of the islands... which is the reason for the skiffs travelling back and forth laden with building materials.
The fishing isn't going that well, but it's better than being in an office.
Sundowners are followed by dinner. Dinner is lurking on the gastronomic horizon. From such a small galley, Ernest - our chef - produces the most amazing dinner which is enjoyed with gusto and beer. And some of the best beef I have ever tasted. Make no mistake - Botswana beef is up there!
Ice - our safari guide, and Kaiser, regale us with jokes and anecdotes until late – and then its off to bed.
Thank god for the mosquito nets. Peaceful Sleep mosquito repellent spray on. Lights off. Sliding door wide open. 10 at night and the temperature is 21 or 22 degrees.
We are moored at the river bank, so during the night when I awaken to strange noises, I step over to my window and observe an elephant, elephant-chest deep in the river, ripping big clumps of river grass out of the embankment for a mid-night snack.
Next morning we head back down river to Shakawe, and after breakfast, those members interested to go see rock paintings at Tsodilo Hills set off for a 5 hour journey in the baking heat.
Two or three of us remain on board and read or just watch the static scenery. I take a walk around the village to go buy cell-phone airtime.
Shakawe has a huge technical training college. This is where the young local men come to learn about auto mechanics, electrical and mechanical engineering, building, plumbing, carpentry and joinery, welding and boat building.
And all of this is out in the middle of nowhere. Part of the presidents vision that all Tswana people learn a trade, in order to become self-sufficient.
The rock art party returns in time for lunch, and we set off immediately on a leisurely cruise up river, turning around at sun-down heading back to Shakawe.
We have been watching thunder clouds build, and if one observed carefully, one could see the rain falling from the clouds in the distance, falling not even halfway to the ground before being evaporated by the hotter air below.
We can see a rainstorm coming across our path. We intersect it some kilometers later and enjoy high winds and rain for about 6 minutes. We caught the tail end.
Another excellent dinner. And although I saw Caltex buy 7 big bream from some fisherman on the shore – we once again had beef!
Find out how to get to Shakawe
Discover more about Rock Art in Tsodilo Hills
From a Botswana travel journal by Moreno Franco