Kasane – meeting point of four countries – Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Street market stalls in Kasane.

The people crafting in the villages and vendors along the street are having a hard time because of the lack of tourists in these times. Crafters, vendors, tourists – they all form part of an economy feeding into a greater network of keeping the habitat shared by wildlife and people alike, well and alive. And, what is not always apparent, they all need protection from being exploited. Crafters and vendors need a fair price for their products in return for their input; tourists need to invest in products that reflect community values, artistic skills and pride, supporting a socially worthwhile industry. Communities living in close contact with wildlife, need to be compensated for any damage caused by its occasional intrusion and wildlife likewise needs to be protected from human intrusion and possible exploitation. It is a delicate balance between the forces of natural occurrences such as flooding and droughts and the forces of man-made disasters caused by greed in conjunction with ill-placed and directed demands for mythical properties by not so gentle horny men from the East.

Here is the rub: our touristy footprint, large as it is – travelling 6000 km from the tip of the continent in the South to the tip of Botswana in the North – needs to be seen in context. We are contributing to keeping one of the last wilderness habitats on earth alive and well as best we can. Since the Amazon rainforest, earth’s breathing lung, is step by step ruthlessly being auctioned off – all visitors to the Chobe flood plains and the Okavango delta in the North of Botswana are charged with supporting these last remaining areas of wildlife on earth. It is an infinitely worthwhile task requiring immense commitment. It is not without danger, not without questions and problems, and considerable resources are to be spent on it. But in the end, to be near to our fellow creatures, unhindered, and in the process being transformed ourselves, becoming considerate, appreciative, humbler and quieter and better equipped to be rewarded with experiencing the joy, grace and beauty of wild animals living in their natural habitat.

There are no roads here, just pathways through the thicket.

Giraffes always seem to display a tender air of curiosity. It is said they have no voice, even in adversity and the most extravagantly lovely eye lashes.

Aish … !

Meadow islands during the dry season.

A harem of Impalas.

What an impressive set of horns, like scimitars.

Hyenas in amorous pursuit.

We stayed downwind in one spot near a watering hole and were rewarded with some lovely views, unnoticed.
Later that afternoon we chugged along on the Chobe river which here forms the border between Botswana and Namibia.
Amazingly the wildlife on both sides of the river not only appears to be untroubled by our presence but even seems to enjoy being watched. They couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about our motorised goings-about while wading over and feeding on the river islands. It seemed they were feeling safe for the while under our watch and would return before nightfall to the Botswana side of the river, away from the Namibian side from where poachers had recently crossed the border and been swiftly apprehended by Botswana wildlife protection teams.

Chobe islands – for some time disputed by Namibia but now settled to belong to Botswana. Here elevated during the dry season.

River bank dwellings, fenced off to keep the hippos out.

The little dot is a baby elephant.

These baboons seem to be lighter in frame and colour than their Chacma cousins in the Cape.

When in the rainy season the waters arrive from the Angolan Highlands, these islands will be completely flooded and inaccessible.

Sunset over Namibia.

It was a great adventure for us and we thank the Bhejane team for their guidance and wonderful care. We would not have been able to do this trip on our own and we consider ourselves lucky to have done it in the company of a group of like-minded travellers who we met as strangers and parted from as friends.
Thank you.

With love
Colleen & Walter
27 Sept 2021


Deep sand demands your full attention – keep the momentum going throughout …
Domestic animals roam freely along the road and there are no fences.

… and every now and then an elephant …

… or a pride of lazy lions after a kill …

… a herd of a few hundred buffaloes …

… we reach our open campsite on the banks of a tributary to the Khwai river. Open – yes, open; no fences and the hippo pool is just around the corner … and the trees are difficult to climb …

The next morning we pick up hyena and leopard spoors – silent visitors of the night. Not so silent were the mighty hippopotamoi … they stepped out when night had fallen, feeding on the sweet green juicy river grasses on the swampy borders while you lie awake, listening to their grinding crunching wallowing, heart-stoppingly near to your tent, a sheet of canvas away … hippos are well known to be short tempered, easily turning into tempestuous beasts when disturbed at mealtimes …

The next morning Mokoros arrive, steered by young people from nearby villages.

At the Hippo pool. Somewhere in the background on the river bank a crocodile is lurking, invisible to the unsuspecting eye.

The Mokoros, tree dug-outs originally, are a means of transport for the local population. To stake tourists along the quieter waterways, has become an additional income generator. The modern Mokoro is made of fibre glass and their owners are proudly showing off their skills in keeping their wobbly crafts in balanced motion. This is your moment of feigning pluckiness in an environment that is not without concealed danger while to all appearances leisurely drifting among beds of waterlilies.

Afternoon time at one of the watering holes, watching game come and go – zebras, elephants, storks …

Evening outing on the Boteti river.

Part III of III to follow …

With love
Colleen and Walter
Sunday 26 Sept 2021

At the Precipice

Inspecting ancient solstice markers of a lost civilisation in the Southern Cape’s Karoo region.

If it were up to us, we might have chosen a different time and place to be. Where would one have gone? Onto an island perhaps, the classical palms strewn on white sandy beaches? Reading Stevenson’s In the South Seas (Edinburgh1894-98), it would have been quite doable for a while despite the indigenous appetite for the flesh of neighbouring tribes. Anyway, it’s all a dream. Fleeing from the Black Death as the privileged group of seven young women and three young men in Boccaccio’s Decameron could afford, sitting it out in a villa outside Florence, seems to be the most attractive kind of shelter from a devastating disease. The story of a man who in recent history looked for a place where he could hide away from the noise of modern times, choosing The Falkland Islands to live out his life in peace, is well known (see the Falklands War of 1982). The less adventurous, the less fortunate, the less ambitious ones of us have to stay within the realm of their modest means.

Illustration from a ca. 1492 edition of Il Decameron.

Where do these thoughts originate from? The moment your wings of desire are clipped, you wish you could get far away from all restrictions, you never imagined to be imposable on anyone, let alone you. The awareness of it creeps in step by step as Dr. Bernard Rieux experiences it in the port city of Oran in Albert Camus’ novel The Pest.
Now that our ways of moving about are curtailed, we feel trapped, humiliated, angry and become aggressive.
Now that we feel how helpless we are where we had thought to be strong and all powerful in shaping our lives, we are left bereft. We are, in fact at the precipice.

At the precipice our fears grab at any good reason why we should not be where we are. Yet, no matter what, we are stuck. Yes, we do receive monetary help from the state, to keep us calm. Yes, we are being fed data to show we are not alone. Yes, we are made to feel looked after with advice how to wash our hands, how not to cough and how to stand away and hide our faces. All of a sudden we are turned into little children having to be told how to behave. It is quite astounding. Instead of saying: look, these are measures to protect yourself and others, but, otherwise get on with your life as before, we are being locked into rabbit cages and fed carrots of institutional wisdom.

There we are huddled together, not more than ten at a time from two families, children under fourteen years of age not counted, and – and what? Awaiting Father Christmas? The right wingers of the world are laughing aloud. See what you can do with people when they are scared! Nazism, Communism, Authoritarianism, they all feed on fear. Scare the people and they eat out of your hand as Hermann Goering told the Nuremberg court when somewhat naively asked how could so many good German people have fallen for the Nazi rule.
O no, the virus is real, it makes its round and will never be eliminated; it will become endemic for a long time to come, if not for ever. Like the atomic bomb. We are under threat all the while; we are at the precipice.

Being at the precipice requires a steadfast mind. Not to stumble. But also to take stock of your options. If there are any. If you are poor, everything matters. Cart by cart you are pushing your lot through the maze of charcoaled shacks. You would have liked to stay at home in the good old rurality, planting mealies, keeping a few chickens, some supportable life stock, yet, the call of the city was so much stronger, politicians and their wives in the latest Benzes and Cayennes showed that there is another world out there of potential prosperity. Hope of a better life.

On the road to Malealea, Lesotho.

This is the reality of most people in this country, getting on with life as best they can.

On our way to Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape.

If you are better off, nothing really matters. Your survival is assured. Comes the virus and steadily the odds are changed. You are as vulnerable as the poor. Your business is in jeopardy. And everyone connected. Now the poor and rich are equally affected. The virus as the great leveller. Messrs Soros, Zuckerberg and Gates are not exempt. All their amassed wealth means nothing anymore. Imagine a scenario, where mankind is wiped out, leaving only a handful of people to enjoy … what?

At the precipice – what are the options?
It appears the world has been there before and survived. What a world it had been, judging from the remnants of enormous skeletons! What would a world without humans eventually come to look like? A vast jungle of plants and trees with a billion animals thriving, building huge living colonies, ants, bees, spiders, beavers, frogs and more of the kind, re-colonising the world! No room for you and me to be, for sure.

The rapidity of change in technological terms has left all of us in the dust. Life has moved to the cloud. Next, to the dust of distant stars. We are being readied for the great trek to different worlds. But few of us, only a chosen few will be participants. That is the meaning of the great RESET, trashing the surplus mass, elevating the highly skilled to a new partnership in future explorations. Leaving this messed-up world behind, returning it to nature, letting it recuperate at its own rate, direction and will (e.g. Chernobyl), while accelerating the speed of development to propel what’s left of mankind onto a new trajectory out of the now and here.

Tschornobyl, Ukraine, founded 1193, population 500 (2010), better known as Chernobyl.

You think this far fetched? The future is already long behind and now the past is finally catching up with us, overtaking the world with increasing speed. That is the meaning of being pushed to the edge of the precipice.

Stellenbosch, Sunday 27 December 2020
With love from
Colleen & Walter