These guys are about to head off on a photo safari around Botswana covering a lot of the same route as I travelled. Their photos may be fantastic, so check this out to see.
I am receiving feedback on this blog about my self-drive trip around Botswana from quite a few readers, including one from Stephan de Lange who is a Television video editor, Freelance 4×4 Specialist Tour Guide and Photographer, who will soon be writing a book about Botswana himself. These emails include very useful feedback for self-drive travellers, so I will post them here on the blog to share their advice with you and ensure you all benefit from their pearls of wisdom. To read these go to the page called ‘Comments by email’ by clicking on the page link to the right.
This blog tells the story of a wibbly-wobbly green-as-grass “you can see me coming a mile away” POME doing a self-drive camping tip around Botswana.
Most travel guides are written by expert travel professionals who know the country or region inside and out. They are written for people to research their holidays and prepare for their own trips. They are relied upon to be trustworthy, thorough, and comprehensive. The guides are just that, like having a local in your pocket. This expertise comes from writers who have generally spent months or years in the places they are writing about, who have gone to enormous lengths and left no stone unturned, to inform the reader, and are professional writers. They have personally witnessed and experienced everything they write about first-hand, so helping the visitor to prepare for every eventuality everywhere in that place.
However a lot of us these days complement the expert information in the expert guides with a supplementary non-expert view to see how someone more like themselves has also found travelling to that same place. Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree and Fodor’s Forums are just a few examples of web sites that are full of ordinary tourists and holiday travellers providing the ‘real’ perspective about where they have been. Ordinary tourists are complementing the expert information in professionally written guides with their own research to seek reassurance and check on the reality of what travelling to some places will really be like for someone who isn’t a hardcore traveller who spent years living out of rucksacks in every part of that place but is just a wobbly-bellied marketing manager from Swindon going there for their annual fortnight’s holiday. If you’re anything like me, you get a warm fuzzy feeling to see others have trodden the same path before you wearing similar shoes and not come a complete cropper.
This is probably not for the intrepid hardcore expedition explorer who travels to walk on virgin paths untouched by human feet before them, although if you do fall into that category you may still find this funny bedtime reading in parts. This story is an unashamedly inexpert, wobbly-bellied, green-as-grass, story of a marketing manager who went to Botswana for a fortnight’s holiday. I did not want to undertake a trip like this on my own, I went with Ed, who was a great driver and happy camper. Read it to complement your reading of expert guides, in conjunction with the expert’s view, to tell the story of what a real tourist, who had no prior knowledge of that country, found when visiting that same place.
Just as much as this is also not an Expert Guide, this is also not serious literary travel writing produced by a budding Bill Bryson or Louis Theroux. I am not destined or trying for a travel-writing career because I want to be able to afford to travel to places like Botswana. I love travelling and writing but not pursuing a career where I’d be as poor as a church mouse and unable to go further than the end of my road in Swindon, it sort of misses a crucial point for me. However, the main reason this is not serious literary travel writing is that I have broken every golden rule of any half decent travel literature. Firstly, I am a focal point of the piece. The subject matter (Botswana) gets central stage and this is not ‘all about me’ but I am not invisible in the story. Secondly, it is about what I did on my holiday, something a serious literary travel writer would NEVER ever write about, perish the thought. Thirdly, I do believe the location, Botswana, is so wonderful that it does make for a good piece. Fourthly, I believe you will be interested in my travels but only because I think you’ll only be reading this because you’re planning a trip to Botswana, or you’re very bored or a bit loopy. Fifthly, the story is in chronological order, I have shamelessly stuck to this structure recounting events as they happened. This is important because I didn’t want to lose POMEs like me following in my footsteps in Botswana. Sixthly, I have gushed more than the Victoria Falls on just how lovely Botswana is. And so it goes. I’m sure you get the picture.
This is a story of a couple of POMEs, originally from the North of England, but now from Swindon (posh word for Pig Town to you and me) in the county of Wiltshire (where people are called Moonrakers because we are meant to think at full moon we can rake the ground for cheese) in England, the other one from Reading, Berkshire. A story of two POMEs going camping in Botswana has not been written for literary acclaim or making a passion a profession, it has been written for other likeminded people who also would like to go to somewhere or do something similar, to provide reassurance and warning in equal measure. The only similarity between this and the expert guides is that I have also personally witnessed and experienced everything I have written about first-hand. Our Expert Guide travelling companion was the Bradt Guide to Botswana written by Chris McIntyre, an Africa Expert and a Travel Writer, so if you read this account to complement the latter you’ll get the complete picture. However this could be just as easily read to complement any of the other expert guides as well.