Quick Names Index
Family Trees
Photos & Websites
  Photo  Collections

Provided By: Muslim Harji

Click here to go back to Muslim's Main Page
Click here to go back to Muslim's Travel Log Main Page


Travel Log - From Cairo to Cape Town




Big Hello from Maun, Botswana!

Dear friends and family,

A big, hearty hello from Maun, Botswana! I’m so sorry for the lapse in time since my last email, but to be honest, in the last little stretch through Zambia, things were incredibly expensive and our time was filled by a variety of activities and so to sit down and write emails was a difficult challenge. Our time in Zambia was really wonderful, we spent time in both Lusaka and in Livingstone, home of the Victoria Falls, and have since moved on into our 8th country! Being in Zambia was a huge shock for us, mainly because everything was ridiculously expensive ­ we were in a “Third World” country, paying more than “First World” prices, really quite a drain of our now-dwindling resources! We did, however, indulge in some exciting activities, including a tour of the AMAZING Victoria Falls and some white water rafting. Victoria Falls span 1.7 kilometers in length and is a spectacular sight. We spent a whole afternoon exploring the many trails that can be found in the park, even crossing a small footbridge right in front of the Falls, where we got completely and utterly soaked to the bone (it’s like torrential rains falling down on you constantly), and traversing a wider bridge into Zimbabwe. In fact, technically then, Botswana is our 9th country in Africa, although we only ventured a few hundred feet onto Zimbabwean soil. From the foot of Victoria Falls, at a viewpoint called the Boiling Pot, where the brownish water really seems to be bubbling and roiling in all directions, you can watch people bungee jump off the bridge that leads to Zim into the Victoria Falls Gorge. Just watching people jump gave me the shivers and I think that a person must be somewhat insane, or at least partially suicidal, to jump with only a thin rope binding your feet together.

 White water rafting on the river was also really really fun. Although Dad was really reluctant at first, I am sure that now, he’s thrilled that he came along. We started early in the morning, where our tour company came and picked us up and took us to their headquarters, where they gave us a quick (incomprehensible with the accent) talk about water safety. By the end of it, I was completely confused about what to do in case anything went wrong and by the looks on the faces of my fellow participants, they were all as worried as I was. They passed around a sheet of paper, which we all signed, only to find out that it was the indemnity and liabilities form, and we had just absolved the company of all responsibility for accidents…. “Great,” I thought cynically. “Now, not only do I not know what the heck I’m doing, but I can’t blame anyone if anything goes wrong!” In the end, it all worked out well, and the only time I got thrown out of the boat was when a fellow paddler was horsing around and intentionally pulled on my life-jacket. The white water rapids that we saw were pretty decent, not the biggest I’ve ever paddled, but still a lot of fun. The rapids had funny names like “The Terminator” and “The Three Ugly Sisters,” and after a cliff jump, where we all jumped into the water from about 10 meters up, we took off down the river! It was a great day and all of the rafters came back weary and sore. It was a great way to end our time in Zambia and we exited the country the next day.

The sad thing was that some of our sectional riders, who were only with us for a short section of the Tour, left to go back home. After their short stints with the group, they had to return to their normal lives, to work and to the regular grind. Even at this point, I have begun to realize that our days are numbered and sooner than we hope, we will also be on planes headed back to our respective homes. It’s a frighteningly sad thought, but I’m also really looking forward to returning home. Unfortunately, for one rider, the time to return home has come sooner than expected. Catherine, one of our Montreal riders, broke her elbow in a freak accident two days ago, and after an x-ray confirmed the break, she is being sent home about a month before we end. Our group has been plagued with several serious and non-serious injuries and illnesses (malaria being among the most recent of them) and Catherine is just devastated about having to leave the tour so near the end. We’re all going to pray that everything is okay with her and that her elbow heals properly.

Botswana is a completely new adventure, as with every new country, and in fact, quite a formidable challenge on the Tour, for completely unexpected reasons. Botswana is flat… really, there is no other way to put it but that it feels like you can see from one end of the country to the next. There is not a hill, not a bump in the road, not a Coke stop, nothing, and the roads are lined with trees, shrubs and bushes. The challenge in biking here comes from keeping oneself entertained when the terrain is so boring. I never really thought that I would say that anything in Africa could bore me, and now maybe I’m being a little spoiled after such a great experience so far, but sheesh! The challenge is to stay sane after staring at the same open road with nothing to do but pedal. Before, you could curse the hills you had to climb or wave at children, but here, for hours on end, you just sit on your saddle, you sing songs to yourself, talk to yourself, you go mad in your head trying to pass the time but there’s not much that you can really do to make the road more lively….except one thing, at which I have become really quite adept. This section of the Tour is known as the Elephant Highway, primarily because on this stretch of road, there are supposed to be tons of elephants, just hanging out, grazing and just going about its life. I am absolutely determined to see an elephant while on the bike, as some riders already have. Even if it kills me and even if I have to go traipsing through the bushes on my own, I will find my elephant! The reason I really want to see an elephant is because it would be so different from seeing an animal on Safari. In the Serengeti and in the Ngorongoro Crater, as well as on a river safari cruise we did on the Chobe River, we had paid good, cold, hard cash to see animals and, as clients, we expected to see them as a return for our money. If we hadn’t seen anything, we most likely would have asked for a refund! But here, out in the middle of nowhere, for no cost at all and unexpectedly, to see an elephant would be for me, the ultimate African animal sighting. This is no Park Safari in Granby, Quebec, this is no Central Park Zoo in New York, this would be an elephant all by itself, just doing its thing. In the last couple of days, as the stories of sightings increase, I have become more and more desperate for my elephant, to the point where I have looked so hard, I have actually created them in my head. I peer so deeply at every gray blob and scour the landscape for anything that moves. So far, I’ve had two pseudo-sightings that have turned out to be a shadowy bush and two cows that were grazing in a field….. what a disappointment. Dad, of course, is always encouraging. Every time I stop, he diligently stops with me, guaranteeing that “this time, that really is an elephant, I’m sure of it!” and we sit for a while staring and squinting as hard as we can. Mainly, I think he’s just happy for the diversion. I’ll keep you all updated on my lookout and hopefully, my next email will have some good news. 

Well, I think this is definitely long enough for today. To tell you all the truth, I had originally written a much shorter email for you all but then it got deleted by accident, a common occurrence out here, and after I vented my anger about technology and stupid computers etc. I wrote this other one and figured I should make it even better than the one I lost. I don’t really know if I’ve succeeded but it was a stress-relieving process. If you’ve made it this far down into my email, I salute you. Really, I write these for myself and I know I can be verbose so if you get bored or tired of reading, I understand.  

Please keep all your emails coming, both my Dad and I really get disheartened when we come to the computer after days in the bush to no messages from family and friends. We like to feel that we’re still important (haha)! 

Lots of love,


We did, however, indulge in some exciting activities, including a tour of the AMAZING Victoria Falls and some white water rafting. Victoria Falls span 1.7 kilometers in length and is a spectacular sight.

Our Gracious Canadian Hosts in Maun, Botswana


Click here to go back to Muslim's Main Page
Click here to go back to Muslim's Travel Log Main Page


Last updated January 2008 Copyright © Mahmood Fazal 2005 - All Rights Reserved Created By Husain Fazal