Erin's Tour d'Afrique Bike of a Blog!
An 8,000 mile personal and philanthropic adventure across Africa…

Botswana’s Elephant Highway

Empowered by our rest and rejuvenation in Victoria Falls, we began this week’s five-day stretch of big mileage with unusual enthusiasm. We were so enthusiastic in fact, that over half the TDA managed to miss the turn to the Botswanan border and ride an extra 12k before finding our way back to the proper course. Yes, this is entirely due to our excessive enthusiasm and nothing to do with the fact that the expedition leader overslept and didn’t flag a critical turn on our course properly…;-) TIA…some of the riders were mad; I could only laugh at the fact that we inadvertently rode extra kilometers at the start of a brutal 700k plus week. Expedition leadership and group social dynamics have truly been the most fascinating and unpredictable animals on this trip so far.

Once we finally found ourselves on the proper course, I chatted happily with Dutch Anka about her charitable work in Mozambique all the way to the Botswana border at Kasane. Anka is a courageous, wordly woman who inspires me to spend more time in new cultures testing innovative ideas. We crossed the Zambezi River via a short ferry ride (note we were nowhere near the waterfall at this point), which was but a shadow of our last epic ferry ride from Egypt to Sudan. Upon arriving in Botswana, we stashed our bikes at camp and set out on a stunning sunset cruise along the Chobe River in Chobe National Park. We saw elephants, crocodiles, lions hunting impalas, birds, huge weird lizards and according to one TDA rider, “the best riverside bars ever.” Every rider is here to see different things in Africa!

Our first day into Botswana was short, but the remaining days this week ranged from 136 to 182 kilometers each along Botwana’s famous “Elephant Highway.” We were assured 1. tailwinds, 2. numerous animal sightings and 3. flat, fast roads. I have experienced 1. headwinds, 2. no animal sightings, and 3. flat, endless roads. The roads feel like we are in some sort of Botswanan Twilight Zone. We have been riding hills since Ethiopia and now the endless flats and consistent scenery make me question whether I am making forward progress at all! I have been riding relatively well, but constantly in a paceline to get through the long days. We have also experienced rain, misty fog and light traffic which enhances the feeling that we are very remote. The sunsets and thunderstorms have been beautiful, even if the riding can get a bit tedious here.

The TDA staff has compensated for the flat, mentally challenging roads with the most delicious lunches of the trip so far. Hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled cheese and eggs were all on the menu this week. I would also like to personally thank Australian Juliana, who saved me when I started pitching my tent in the middle of an “elephant trail” in one of our recent bush camps. With the ants, water, frog, broken pole and myriad other issues, I’m frankly surprised that an elephant didn’t find its way into my tent.

Regardless of whether I see elephants in my tent or along the highway, tomorrow I’m venturing into the Okavango Delta, which is supposed to be one of the natural highlights of Botswana. Bring on the elephants! And maybe a riverside bar or two…

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One Response to “Botswana’s Elephant Highway”

  1. Er,
    Can’t wait to hear about the Okavango Delta. Spring has sprung back here in upstate NY – one of my favorite seasons. Keep smiling, enjoy and be safe. In my thoughts – Love you
    MOM


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