GABORONE, BOTSWANA — With the animals, the adventure, the action behind us, it was time for the whole impetus of the trip: a German-Batswanan (yes, that’s the correct spelling) union in this beautiful African land.
From Kruger, we rolled back south to Johannesburg, stopping off at one of the continent’s most amazing natural wonders. Blyde River Canyon, known as Africa’s Grand Canyon, cuts a deep gash into the otherwise flat South African grasslands.
In Johannesburg, we grabbed a car and headed northwest, bouncing down two-way roads that cut through the gorgeous South African countryside. The toasty sun and lazy clouds made for an amazing five hour drive to the northern border.
The border crossing was… interesting. It was our first experience with the infamous African bureaucracy. It took several lines, a handful of forms and having to “sneak” back across the South African border for a missing stamp, but somehow we figured it out in the end.
After crossing over, we made our way to Gaborone, the capital and only large city in Botswana, one of the least population dense countries in the entire world. Gaborone is clean, organized, if lacking a bit of character.
Long strip malls line six-lane highways. Middle class residents shop and sip coffee. At first glance, it was the suburbs of Africa.
We stayed in a decidedly upper class enclave: a five star golf resort on the outskirts of Gaborone. It was here that we joined Thomas and Louise’s families in celebrating a union that was official over four years ago. Not only was the ceremony beautiful — neither the bride nor the groom could help themselves from crying — but it was truly a meeting of cultures. Guests decked out in Tracht watched on as traditional African dancers played music and did a cool mix of traditional slap and break dancing that strangely reminded everyone of a Bavarian Schuhplattler.
After the wedding, many of the guests moved on to the northeast of the country, to the Okavango Delta, one of the most amazing natural scenes in the world. Unfortunately for us, our adventures were behind us and we slowly made our way back to Johannesburg, wishing we had another two weeks to explore the delta, the Calihari, the Zambezi and Victoria Falls.
But there’s no greater tragedy for adventurers than checking everything off your lists — after all, what would be left to explore the next time around? Cruising down an empty road, a massive African rain cloud floating on the horizon, we just quietly sat and soaked the untold beauty of this continent that we had only scratched the surface of.
The warm sun, the cool fragrant air and day dreams of the next time we put our feet on the soil of Africa.