Friday, 3 July 2009

Botswana Self Drive Holiday. Day One. LHR to Maun. Thank to Mac and Brenda at Maun 4x4 for a fab Land Rover!

The day had arrived, Botswana or to be more specific The Okovango Delta. I have been waiting years for this trip.
First, it was a British Airways, (or should we call them South of England Airways?) flight from Manchester to Heathrow, arriving into the new terminal five. Terminal Five is massive, but we had plenty of time to get to the gate and get on the 747-400 going to Johannesbugh.
Our seats were great, a window and an aisle right at the back of the aircraft. The plane was packed, not a seat to spare. The flight was full of Rugby Fans going to see the Lions in South Africa. The crew left the bar open, so that you could help yourself and the flight had a real party atmosphere, one fan was singing songs till we were over Chad, when there were crys of 'shut up!!'. He did, and most of the passengers slept as the flight headed for EGoli.
The flight arrived as scheduled at 06.30.
The airport is getting ready for South Africa hosting the football world cup in 2010. Getting through passport control was very easy, and all the staff very efficient. It took a long time for the bags to appear, and although the airport has six baggage carousels only one was in use?
We had time to enjoy a full South African breakfast at the airport, before checking in for the flight with Air Botswana to Maun. The plane was brand new and this flight took two hours.I had booked the fully equipped 4x4 over the Internet. It is all ways a worry when booking over the Internet as to whether 'firms' really exist or not, especially when they are not international companies. So, I was very relived when we were met by the people we had booked our hire car with! They are called Mechto Ltd, they rent out 4x4s, offer breakdown recovery and service vehicle, and they were fantastic. This is a link to the web page;
http://www.maunselfdrive4x4.com/
Very quickly we were take to the home of Brenda & Mac, and shown the Land Rover we were hiring for the week.
It was just what we needed, a Land Rover Td5. It had a long range fuel tank, a large tank full of fresh drinking water, 2 spare tyres, a fridge /freezer, a cool box, all the camping equipment we needed, plates, cups, even matches and tea towels. It also had an electric light that plugged into the cigarette lighter and an electric pump to pump up the tyres. This was our home for the next seven days......Mac & Brenda did us proud!
I booked a campsite at the Thamalakane Safari Lodge for the first night, to give us chance to get to know the workings of the tent.....I need not have worried, it was very easy, just folding out like a book. The photos on the website http://www.thamalakane.com/ do not do the lodge justice, it is undergoing a renovation project and was a fantastic place to stay.

Thamalakane Safari Lodge is on the banks of the river, it has a campsite, lodges, a swimming pool, a restaurant and bar, as well as sitting areas inside and out.

We sat enjoying our first sundowner, a Gin & Tonic whilst listing to the sounds of the hippos in the river...bliss!