Travel organiser and tour director at Viv’s Travel Bug Former founding staff member and Deputy Headmaster Oxley College, Bowral
  • Day18

    Day 18. And finally home

    October 14, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    After an extended stay in Johannesburg we caught our onward overnight flights - the group to Perth and Peter Craig to London.

    No problems in Australian Customs so everybody is delighted that their souvenirs/gifts are safely in the country.

    Many thanks to all concerned. It is a huge responsibility for the adults who are on call 24 hours a day for the 18 days. Mrs Calver’s pastoral role was significant and often demanding. Mr Marnoch ensured that Oxley maintained its standards at all times. Mrs Marnoch provided a valuable support role. Their team work was much appreciated.

    Those Oxleyans visiting Botswana in 2019 acquitted themselves extremely well.
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    Meg Wilson

    Well done everyone and thank you so much for giving these kids a trip with memories that will last a lifetime!!

    Justine McKinlay

    Thanks so much for looking after our kids so well. The trip looks absolutely wonderful. They will cherish their memories of this time away.

    Matthew Bow

    Thank you to everyone involved - what a great experience

    Peter Craig

    Thanks Kate, Matt, Justine & Meg. It was a great pleasure and I enjoyed it too.

  • Day17

    Day 17. Homeward Bound

    October 13, 2019 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    We were in no rush this morning with breakfast at 8.00. Tents were cleared and bags stored in Mr Craig’s tent, ready for delivery at the airport by midday.

    After breakfast we eventually climbed on to our transport for our last ride into Maun and we were dropped off adjacent to the airport. Once everybody had arrived we climbed up to the first floor movie theatre for a showing of biographical tribute to the life of Tim Liversedge. Tim has had a huge impact on the Maun region, as a scientist, a travel industry entrepreneur, and a cinematographer (Roar: Lions of the Kalahari). For his work as a naturalist Tim was given an honorary doctorate by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.

    Tim and June Liversedge were in attendance after the video and it was great to catch up with them (as we have done for the past 3 visits). We adjourned to the cafe around the corner and were joined by Senatla Mokobela, the Sedie principal.

    From there we collected our bags and checked in for our flight to Johannesburg. The small SALink jet took 1:20 to get to ORTambo in Johannesburg. After clearing Customs we headed for the familiar cafe to base ourselves for the duration of our transition.
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    Matthew Bow

    Travel safe - see you soon - how amazing this trip has been - thank you to all

    Pam Anderson

    Best wishes to all for a safe trip home . See you all soon !

    Belinda Hill

    The Dream Team

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  • Day16

    Day 16. Horse-back game-viewing

    October 12, 2019 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    There was no urgency about the start of today. No wake-up calls, no hurry-ups. Half of the group had no deadline to meet. All wandered slowly up to breakfast at 7.00 in their own time.

    By 7.30 we had been joined by local resident, Dany Hancock, of Rides on the Wildside, who had split the students into 2 groups, one to ride in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Dany had organised our transport to the private game reserve where we were to ride. We were soon on the back of a truck and because the Thamalakane River is dry were able to take a short cut across the river bed to the horse stables.

    Once inside the reserve we divided again with one group grooming horses and the other riding. Led by a guide, with an assistant behind, we rode in single file gradually increasing in confidence as the ride progressed. Some groups walked, other more competent riders were able to be more challenged.

    In the course of the ride we were able to see close up several giraffes, eland, zebra, springbok, gemsbok, ostrich and monkeys. It was a great way to view the wildlife: very different to our previous experiences.

    The two groups then swapped over, both having a ride, a grooming session and a period of relaxation back in the camp at Sitatunga. The theory for those back in camp was to pre-pack and organise (R&R) before the start of the long haul tomorrow to return home.

    Charlotte, the Sitatunga cook, did us proud again for dinner - steak and boerewors. We had our final de-brief of the tour and then talked about tomorrow’s arrangements for our travel to the airport and onwards.

    It was a tired group who headed for bed - but everyone had had a great ride.
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  • Day15

    Day 15 Our last school day

    October 11, 2019 in Botswana ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

    The Delta Rain vehicles were being used for many different activities this morning - ferrying us to Sedie as well as collecting tour groups from the delta - so to accommodate all that our transport left Sitatunga Camp at 7.00 am. We were at Sedie in time to join the morning assembly which lasted about 10 minutes.

    After that we, and our Sedie buddies, and a couple of teachers, climbed aboard a bus organised by the school and drove across town to visit the Delta Waters International School (a private school with about 800 primary and 170 secondary students, including some boarders).

    We were made extremely welcome at the school at an assembly which included speeches, some marimba music and some singing. The quality was extremely high. From the assembly we broke up into 4 groups who were exposed to different activities - traditional Setswana games, conservation club, science and basketball.

    There is much in common between Oxley and Delta Waters. Both were established by small groups of parents wanting a local alternative to sending their children away to boarding schools.. Both took on great financial risk at the beginning. Delta Waters has developed a little oasis in the harsh Botswanan Kalahari with green lawns, playing fields and a swimming pool.

    We arrived back at Sedie JSS by midday and found a shady spot for lunch. After that we met up with our buddies in the hall and sat in discussion groups to get to know each other better. A lively conversation hum soon started.

    By 1.30 our transport had arrived and we spent an hour in town, with most looking at the curio stalls for momentos of their visit. Back at Sitatunga Camp we had a lazy afternoon, swimming, playing volleyball or using the wifi. Dany Hancock, of Rides on the Wildside (tomorrow’s horse ride), came by to say hello.

    Refreshed, we were ready for the Farewell BBQ put on by Sedie JSS.. In 2 vehicles we returned to school where tables had been laid out in a quadrangle. We were joined by our buddies and their parents. Speeches were made and prayers said, and the meal followed. It was a good way to end our visit to the school. Many friendships had started and others renewed.

    Back at camp we had a short briefing to let everyone know what was happening on our final full day in Botswana. And then it was time for bed. Our visit to the schools had ended on a high note.
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    Kate Psarakis

    Wonderful to visit another school, and for the Oxley students to spend so much time with their Buddies.

    Stephen Marnoch

    Hi Kate. All is fantastic!!

    Kate Psarakis

    Hi Steve, Pete’s blog and photos have been wonderful updates for us. Looks like another incredible adventure! Enjoy the last few day. See you soon,

    Kim de Montemas

    Thanks for the updates - great to get the detail.

  • Day14

    Day 14. (Day 2 Mathiba)

    October 10, 2019 in Botswana ⋅ ☁️ 35 °C

    We are now used to the routine of getting ready for school & breakfasting prior to departure from Sitatunga. This morning - a cloudy, cooler day to start with - we set off before 7.15 and drove through Maun centre, passed the airport, to Mathiba Memorial Primary School. The school is at the end of the airport runway and we had frequent small aircraft, delta lodge bound, take off over us in the course of the morning.

    The 1000+ students started lining up for Assembly as we arrived and once we were in position in front of them we were treated to a whole-assembly dance and song, which was a fabulous African greeting. They were remarkably rhythmic and intensely focused, the little ones keenly determined to do their best.

    At the end of Assembly and introductions from their Executives and Stephen Marnoch, they started singing “When the Saints go marching in” and year groups peeled off and went to their classrooms .

    The remaining Standard IIs were divided into small groups, which found a shady spot, and Oxley began its teaching morning.

    The pairs of Oxley students spent the next 2 hours teaching, swapping groups every 40 minutes or so for the variety. It was great fun and everybody enjoyed the experience.

    After break, we walked out of the ‘Oxley Gates’ the 400 metres to the local clinic. After a bit of a wait, while the waiting room emptied, we entered the HIV Aids section where we listened to a talk by a male nurse and an administrator. We were given an overview as to how the clinic dealt with their patients.

    Returning to Mathiba, we sat in the shade of an admin building corridor and ate our packed lunch.

    After lunch, we were invited by the Standard VIs to a ‘cultural welcome’. It was a most interesting hour or so. Mathiba have really worked hard to make our visit memorable and their organisation has been impressive. It is obvious they value their link with Oxley.

    Staff spoke, children acted in traditional costume, singing and ululating occurred, a gift was given and games played (a local traditional board game) and skipping took place. It also gave Oxley the opportunity to handover the books and games each student had brought. It was a great ending to our visits to Mathiba this trip and we were sad to say farewell to the friends we had made.

    While we waited for our transport to arrive, the wind gusted, a storm blew up and there was lightning and thunder. A few raindrops fell - Oxley’s first in their visits to Botswana - but nothing really came of it. We hope that it is the start of a much needed rainy season.

    The usual ‘Choppies’ supermarket stop occurred on the way home to camp and we were back by 5.00. Everyone relaxed until our guest speakers arrived at 6.00. We had a fascinating evening with Drs Leanne van der Weyde and Jess Isden sharing their experience in cheetah (Leanne) and lion (Jess) conservation and mitigation. This was the third time the two had shared their experiences with Oxley groups and it is really appreciated.

    Jess and Leanne joined us for dinner - as did Edward of the Sedie Science Department - and it was an interesting conversation.

    We broke up about 9.00 and slowly headed for bed, exhausted. It had been a busy, rewarding and overwhelming (by the enthusiasm of the Mathiba staff and students) sort of day.
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    Roz Chapman

    Fantastic to follow. What

    Roz Chapman

    Whoops! What an absolute wonderful experience for everyone. Thank you Peter

    Pam Anderson

    Another amazing day ! Thankyou Peter for the update and photos. Best wishes to all for the last few days of the trip.

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  • Day13

    Day 13. (Day 2 Sedie, Day 1 Mathiba)

    October 9, 2019 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 36 °C

    Today we were in less of a hurry to get to Sedie JSS and we took on the Maun morning traffic. Once at school we waited for some time to be allocated to our classes. In groups of about 5 we attended classes until morning break. Most of the classes were doing revision for their Form III exams which start next week.

    At break we left Sedie and walked the 800 metres to next door Mathiba Memorial Primary School. Previously the entrance to the school had been unimposing but now there’s an impressive set of gates that clearly state the relationship between Oxley College and Mathiba., of which they are most proud.

    We were all taken into the Mathiba staff room and were welcomed by the Mathiba Head (Noah) and his staff. Mr Marnoch spoke on behalf of Oxley and the meeting ended with a prayer.

    From there we went outside where a group of Standard IV students danced for us in traditional costume. It was most impressive!

    Then, in pairs of Oxley students, we were allocated groups of Mathiba students and, after looking for shade in the school grounds we set about engaging with the primary students. Some played games, others read stories or coloured in Australian animals. We had great fun and everybody enjoyed themselves. A return to Mathiba tomorrow is now eagerly anticipated.

    We walked back to Sedie for the packed lunch we had brought with us from the camp and sat in the shade of the car park to eat it. The afternoon was so hot that by mutual agreement activities were cancelled and we returned, via a supermarket stop for water, to Sitatunga.

    After a shower or swim we were ready for the local challenge of a football and netball game with neighbouring villagers. A short trip on one of the trucks, a greeting (dumela) to the headmen of the 4 adjacent kraals, and the games started. Everybody had fun, enjoyed themselves and the Oxley teams gave a good showing against the local adults.
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    Kate Psarakis

    How wonderful to see the new gates. A wonderful symbol of partnership.

  • Day12

    Day 12 (Day 1 Sedie JSS)

    October 8, 2019 in Botswana ⋅ ☀️ 35 °C

    We were determined to be on time for our first school day so the wake up call was 5.30, with breakfast at 6.00. By 7.00 our transport had arrived and dressed in our Oxley sports uniform we climbed aboard our trucks for the 45 minute drive to Sedie School. To avoid the morning rush hour traffic we took a couple of ‘long cuts’ on unpaved roads but we were on time.

    Once at Sedie Junior Secondary School we were ushered into a nearby staff room where we received a formal welcome to Sedie, to Mathiba Primary School and to Maun. In attendance were the Heads of both schools, a representative of the Ministry of Education, a parent and several staff. When the guests departed, our ‘buddies’ entered the room and we individually made their acquaintance.

    After that we went on a tour of the school, visiting the computer room, the library, kitchens, Home Economics and Art rooms.

    After a morning break students went with their buddies to class while the staff talked to the Head of Sedie, Mrs Senatla Mokobele.

    At midday, we somewhat haphazardly used transport to get to the Nhabe Museum in town where we were shown around by the curator. Afterwards we had lunch sitting in the shade in the museum grounds.

    From the museum we were transferred to the Maun kgotla where we were welcomed to Maun by 3 important chiefs. The conversation broadened as some good questions were asked and the chiefs warmed to the occasion. It became a most interesting session.

    We were picked up from the kgotla and taken into town to buy water (plus). It had been a long day by the time we got into camp.

    However, everyone perked up as they began to listen to our esteemed visitor, the world-renowned rhino conservationist, Map Ives. We sat out in the open in front of the restaurant, in the cool of the evening and found his talk fascinating. Oxley asked plenty of questions and got some interesting responses.

    Map left us before dinner which we ate in the restaurant. A de-brief of the day followed ( a lot of good things occurred: other aspects need to be re-assessed).

    We had no problem directing all to their tents at 9.30.
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    Nicole Allan

    Really appreciating these updates Peter as you already have a busy time so taking time to do this is fabulous. Thankyou

  • Day11

    Day 11. Our return to Sitatunga from the

    October 7, 2019 in Botswana ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    It was a slow start to the morning as it was our intention to leave the island at 9.00. We are now used to de-camping so it did not take us long to get ready. With the help of the 20 polers we were soon able to leave the campsite as clean as we found it.

    It was an hour’s pole to the village of Daunara where we were met by the Delta Rain crew (who run Sitatunga and the delta mokoros) and we loaded the vehicles. We said farewell to our poler friends, and Charlotte G thanked them and gave Mr K a large tip for him to share among them.

    Our visit to the Okavango had been a huge success. What a great array of animals we had seen and the mokoros and their polers had been special.

    It was a 2 hour drive back to Maun where we bought more water (and an ice cream or two) before heading 13 kms out of town to Sitatunga Camp. Bheki had looked after the truck and our suitcases in our absence and he had prepared lunch for us.

    After lunch we helped them pack all their camping equipment and then had a farewell gathering to say goodbye to Bheki and Munya. Aiofe thanked Bheki and Millie thanked Munya. Both spoke well and passed on a well-deserved gratuity to each of them. The truck left soon afterwards, on its way back to base in Victoria Falls .

    We had a lazy afternoon after moving into our Meru-style tents (each has its own en-suite). Swimming , volleyball, laundry, reading. The temperature sat in the high 30s but it is a dry heat.

    Everyone was hungry by dinner time and we had our first meal prepared by the Sitatunga cooks. It was a great success, eaten under the stars. Two Sedie teachers, Bofelo and Sebubu, came to say hello to everyone and stayed for a drink.

    We had no problem suggesting that their new beds should be tried out at the end of another hot day.
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    Siobhan Barrett-Lennard

    What an amazing trip. We are really loving the updates! Thanks for leading such a fantastic tour.

    Tracie Inman

    Thanks for the updates Peter. Perhaps I will visit one day I’d love to see all the animals you have seen your all so lucky.

  • Day10

    Day 10 On an Okavango Delta island

    October 6, 2019 in Botswana ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    Mr K woke the entire camp at 5.00 am and we were soon up . The kettle had been boiled on the fire so we started the day with a hot drink and a rusk. By 5.45 we were down at the mokoros and we were soon ferried the short distance across the channel to start our morning walk.

    Breaking up into the same 4 groups as the previous day we headed off in different directions, led by a guide, with an assistant bringing up the rear. The walk lasted 4 hours in total with frequent stops to observe the wildlife and a mid-walk halt where we sat in the shade on the side of a termite mound.

    Most groups saw the same animals but obviously in different circumstances. Our group came across a herd of 12 giraffe, with a similar number of zebra nearby, as well as impala. Continuing our walk we saw warthog, a Secretary bird, 3 bushbuck, a large herd of buffalo and a herd of wildebeest. In the distance we saw elephants.

    On our return we saw smaller groups of the same animals as the heat of the day began to rise and animals sought cover. Back at camp we were welcomed by one of Munya’s amazing breakfasts.

    For the rest of the day, apart from lunch at 1.00, we either sought shade and read or played loud, noisey games, or dozed: while some did wash/swim in the waterhole or try their hand at poling a mokoro.

    By 5.00 pm we were all aboard our mokoros and were taken by our polers along a nearby watercourse . Round the corner we sat and watched 5 elephants move across in front of us from one bank to the other. There were herons and long-tailed shrike, and water lilies in the wider sections of the channel.

    As the sun neared the horizon we arrived at a large expanse of water inhabited by 8 hippos. We sat, in our mokoros, close to the reeds and watched the hippos sink and resurface, and the sun ball slowly disappear. It was a beautiful setting and a stunning scene.

    In the gathering gloom, we returned to camp where Munya had prepared a great ‘African’ meal. He has certainly done us proud and there has always been ample available.

    After dinner water was sprinkled on the sand around the campfire and the polers gathered for songs and dances, entertaining the group. There were some great acts, the highlights of which were ‘the old man’ dance and the ‘frog dance’. We ended the polers contribution by having a black and white song (polers and Oxleyans mixed),’Beautiful Africa’.

    Oxley decided to sing to the polers and they were entertained by the School Song and the School Hymn, followed by Advance Australia Fair.

    It had been another day of memorable, but exhausting , experiences and it was not difficult to persuade everyone to go to bed.
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    Kate Psarakis

    I wonder if they all remembered the words to the school hymn and school song! How funny!

    Bec Snell

    Just WOW!!❤️

    Kate Psarakis


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  • Day9

    Day 9 Into the Okavango

    October 5, 2019 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 34 °C

    The camp was ‘on the move’ by 6.00 and all tents were down by 7.00 before breakfast. We organised our water and backpacks for our morning’s 2 hour drive to Daunara. After breakfast we said farewell to Brian whose role as additional vehicle and driver was over and he left to return to Johannesburg.

    We were also welcomed by the Sitatunga Camp owners Karina and Gerald, and the manager, Ollie, all folk who have got to know the Oxley students well over the past 3 years.

    Soon after 8.00 the Sitatunga troop carrier was loaded up with tents, camping gear, food and students and we were on our way. With a jeep and trailer as well, we headed back to Maun and northwards, before turning west and driving on a dusty, sandy, bumpy road that often required the use of the lower gears of the 4WD. Eventually we reached Daunara, our mokoro ‘port’ and unloaded everything.

    Our party consisted of 20 mokoros, usually with 2 passengers, and a poler, but also camping gear. We manoeuvred in the narrow read-choked channels between the islands for an hour and a half seeing elephant and giraffe in the distance. It was very hot (Mrs Marnoch’s wristwatch thermometer read 43C) so we welcomed our arrival at a treed site where we could put up our tents and relax

    Munya provided another of his special lunches and we relaxed in the heat of the afternoon, playing cards, ready and sleeping.

    At 5.00 we crossed the narrow channel by mokoro and broke up into 4 groups for a short evening game walk. There was a spectacular sunset but most of us were also fortunate to see a herd of 10 zebra and a mother elephant and 2 calves, with lechwe, wildebeest and warthog in the distance.

    We came back to camp for another of Munya’s meals, consisting of various African components. It was such a hit that a line for seconds occurred very quickly. What an amazing skill he has to feed over 30 of us with such basic camping facilities.

    After dinner we had the usual debriefing, led by Mr Craig, with Mr “K”, the leader of the polers talking about the next day and also how the toilet system worked.

    By 9.30, grubby and tired, we were in our tents. It had been a hot but rewarding day.
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