I just spent a great rest day in Maun doing nothing. This is the jump off spot for trips to the Okavango delta. A lot of bikers took sight seeing flights over the delta and saw hippos, giraffes, and elephants. I was too exhausted from biking to do anything other than bike to the grocery store and sit by the pool.

Internet connection confuses and amazes me in Africa. Lots of places in Maun have free wifi. We have had no free wifi since Ethiopia. Lots of hotels will charge for wifi that barely works… As in an im (text) message could take 15 minutes to send. I have been using local SIM cards on my unlocked iPhone the whole time and that is how I post 98% of this blog. All day today my group has been complaining about slow or non-existent internet on the free wifi (at the hotel and in town at cafés). I have had great internet on my cell phone 3G connection. I can post pictures, set up a hotspot for others, and talk on Skype. It even allowed a little Skype video so I could see my boyfriend’s face for a minute on his birthday :) 150 MBs cost about $2.50…. Not bad!

Chobe river cruise! Our first day in Botswana we went on the sunset Chobe River safari cruise. The most exciting part was watching an eagle unsuccessfully hunt baby ducks. Right in front of our boat the eagle circled and swooped and the ducks would dive under water. The parent ducks freaked out when the babies got separated from the pack after going under water.

After our boat broke down when turning off the engine to quietly approach a crocodile (making us hungry bikers grumpy and late for dinner), I wished I opted for a nap. We were jumped and resumed the safari, then the boat captain ran into and over the dock a few times, taking about 15 minutes to correctly park the boat. Every thing was ok again when the tour served a ice cream for dessert. (The leftover ice cream was served with breakfast the next day!)

Botswana biking! You might think that biking on a flat road is easier than in the mountains… Surprisingly this week has been tough. Probably a combination of riding three different bicycles, having my knees and butt hurt like hell, and biking on endless long flat roads has made this week hard. On day 3 I switched over to Scott’s bike permanently. I will use his all the way to Cape Town… Best part - it’s a Long Haul Trucker and he might visit me in Alaska to pick it up! My bike that was stolen was a Long Haul Trucker one size bigger than Scott’s. There is a rack on Scott’s bike so my pannier is back in action and I can lose the backpack. Scott is leaving the tour early so he can go home and train for an ironman he previously signed up for. He also realized that he doesn’t love this type of cycling (so many miles and so few rest days) and that he would be happier at home focusing on ironman. Thank you Scott!

The first full day in Botswana I biked the full day with Sigrid who is terrified of elephants and lions. She refused to leave my side. A few days later we camped in an area known for lions and she made sure people camped in a circle around her tent. Had there been better internet connection, we would have downloaded lion noises and scared the shit out of her in the middle of the night. Sigrid and I did see some impalas and elephants on the side of the road. The elephant sighting was very exciting and then we had elephants visit our camp that evening as well. The day after a couple huge elephants crossed the road at lunch and then I saw multiple herds after lunch off the road at safe distances.

The border crossing between Zambia and Botswana is a ferry crossing over the Zambezi river. There was a huge line of trucks waiting. I hear it takes days for the cargo trucks to wait in line. A bridge would make so much sense, but being on a border I’m guessing the two countries can’t agree on how to pay for it.

I saw some giraffes from the bike in Zambia and in Botswana I saw a warthog run across the road in front of a car before getting to camp. There are not many people in Botswana, but we will be biking by national parks and might see lots of wildlife.

The bike pictured above is the second bike I tried out. As you can see it is a little small :) It is Mark’s bike. Mark left the tour in Livingstone (he only signed up to do a couple sections) and wanted the tour to donate his bike in Cape Town so he didn’t have to lug it around as he travels in Africa and Europe before returning to Canada. Like the cruiser bike, this bike is not for me. My body was exhausted and in pain after trying new cycling positions and a new saddle. I have developed very specific muscles for biking on my own bike over the last 3 months. Any slight changes work new muscles!

Hippos on the Chobe River cruise. My video missed the funny laughing noise they make. I like their ear twirls.

Funny chameleon :). This was Michael’s pet for a couple days. He slept with Little Sandro (the chameleon’s name) in his tent without rolling over on it and killing it. But Little Sandro refused to eat any bugs and then escaped.

Day one on a new bike cruiser-style. This one is Heiner’s. He had to leave the tour about a month ago for a medical problem.

No luck having my bike returned. The police found one of the three stolen bikes. They had a weird story about chasing a guy on a bike who pulled a machete on them, but then dropped the bike and ran away. The prior day, their story was that they had simply found one of the bikes stashed in the woods near the crime scene. I will try out a few bikes this week and Jill was lent a bamboo bike from the fancy hotel she stayed in outside of Livingstone. Biking a bamboo bike in sandals sounds like a true African experience. Losing our bikes is turning into an adventure.

I spent my 3 rest days camping at the Zambezi Waterfront. That’s my orange tent next to the pool. This is the nicest campground we have had all trip…. Endless hot showers, bathrooms don’t run out of toilet paper, easy to charge my phone!

The only annoyance is the monkeys. They have ripped into a few tents tearing and chewing holes in them. As I was laying in my tent one day, there was a sudden commotion in Sonya’s tent next to mine. I got out to see what was happening and a damn monkey sticks it’s head out from under her vestibule. I chased it away and have been “locking” my tent zippers. One is locked in the inside with a carabiner and the other is locked with a clip thing. Monkeys know how to work zippers so this is essential. This morning a monkey stole and then ate a biker’s malaria medication (malerone). The monkey popped the pills out of the packaging. We were sad it wasn’t the larium medication, which causes crazy dreams and sometimes psychosis.

Our first night here we went on a booze cruise (aka sunset dinner cruise). It was a lot of fun. At only 8:30 me and 3 others had to drag/ carry a too drunk, unable to stand biker back to his tent. He had taken at handful of people down in his multiple bar falls and it was getting dangerous.

This is the boiling pot at the bottom of the falls.

In the mist which was more like a torrential downpour.

Victoria Falls!

I’m missing my Long Haul Trucker :( It was stolen a couple nights ago from camp while everyone slept. It was u-locked to Jill’s bike that was also stolen and Randy’s (tour director) bike was stolen out of a vehicle with his camera on it. It seemed to be a secure camp on a hotel grounds with a security guard and a gate.

Randy put out word of a $500 reward for the bikes, which is way more than the thieves would get by selling them. We filed a police report and went back to the crime scene with the very official CID (criminal investigation department) investigators… They had no working vehicle, no uniforms, but did carry a very large gun. Within 5 minutes, they discovered footprints of the thieves headed into the woods. I avoided asking if they followed those footprints to find a covered pile of biker poop. We then went into town with them where they asked around. They have a suspect. Some random guy who lives in the area who has been in jail before. The detectives promised to find a vehicle that evening to go visit the suspect since he wasn’t home in the morning. The hotel manager was also out and about spreading the word of the $500 reward. In small communities like this, everyone usually knows who committed the crime. I’m hoping the hotel manager just needs time to decide how to split the reward with his partners in crime.

In the meantime, our bike tour truck driver, Noah from Zimbabwe, suggested that we use his witch doctor. The Malawian witch doctor from Lusaka is going to provide his own transportation to the crime scene (120 kms out of Livingstone) and we only have to pay him $240 if the bikes show up. Win win situation! The witch doctor only requires a brand new, never used bike tube and pump. In the ritual he will pump up the tube and the thrives’ bellies will start to bloat until they blow up…. Before that happens they should come running and surrender the bikes to end the ritual. The people here are scared shitless of black magic. The witch doctor is still en route to the crime scene.

We have 3 rest days in Livingstone, so I’m hoping the bikes turn up somehow. If they don’t we have a few people leaving the tour at this stage whose bikes we can share. My bike was 5 years old, so I got some good use out of it. We have been having some laughs about how they’ll break the u-lock and then find someone tall enough to ride my bike (I’m 6ft 1in). African bikes are totally different and they will not have the right tools to lower my seat :) suckers!

Lusaka to Livingstone. We biked some long days this week. 182kms was my longest day ever. My energy levels ebb and flow on this trip. Some days I am exhausted and have to work for every pedal stroke and some days I have endless energy. I was fast and strong on the 182km day. The weather helped… Foggy and cool. Great biking weather! After that ride I was feeling confident that I can bike the 200+km section that is coming up in Botswana.

I had a nice rest day in Lusaka walking around a couple malls and going to the movies. As Ian said, it’s nice to be normal for a day. This was also my first time taking a local bus (mini van?) in Africa by myself!

3 long riding days to Livingstone / Victoria Falls.