Botswana Bamboozelment

Settling into Life in Africa

Steve with a Giraffe in Botzwana


Upon our return from Botswana I’ve made an effort at normalization.  I’ve started driving around; made an attempt to improve our internet connection; started cooking at home and

working out.  This attempt at normalization has relieved my constant state of alarm but it does make for less exciting stories.

Still there was Botswana.  That was a trip.

Botswana Bamboozle

In Botswana Patrick was our guide.  He found us wandering outside the hotel and offered us a ride.  To all appearances he was just a guy with a car, no badge, no sign, but the hotel doorman did not seem alarmed so we climbed in.

He took us to the mall, a dull street of 1960’s vintage dry cleaners, electronic stores and street vendors, and promised to return in one hour: which he did.

In general, the town of Gaborone (Gabs to the locals) had little to offer: no music, no museum, and no restaurants of distinction.  Still, despite the dearth of tourist attractions, I very much like the town: no beggars, no security guards and, though we were the only white people on the mall and clearly tourists, no one seemed interested or alarmed.  This is unlike Johannesburg where the food is good but there is an undercurrent of mistrust and wariness everywhere we go.

Riding back the hotel we asked Patrick about the nearby [Mokolodi Nature Reserve]( No sooner had we mentioned the name Mokolodi then Patrick was on the phone making us reservations for the game drive at 2:00 PM the next day.

As he dropped us off at the hotel he told us to meet him at 11:30 the next day and he would drive us to the park.

The Bamboozlement Begins

Riding out to the game park, a ride of 30 minutes, Patrick informs us he has a book and a newspaper and he will wait at the park for us to complete our safari.

“You are going to wait?”  We ask, surprised.

“Yes, don’t worry.” says Patrick, talking fast, “It will not be much. Anyone can afford it.”

“How much?”

“It is not much? I will wait because sometimes when you call for a cab there is no cab and you have to wait maybe one hours.”

“How much?”

“I tell you what. I will only charge you for 2 hours.  See, only two hours and I will wait.”

The next question is, or should be, “How much do you charge per hour.?”.  But here is the thing.  He is going to answer – maybe – and say something like “Only 80 Pula for one hour.”

So where do I go from there?

There are approximately eight South African Rand (ZAR) in one American dollar.
There are .90 ZAR to one Botswana Pula (BWP).

That makes the 80 Pula cost for his waiting time somewhere in the range of  $10.00 to $11.00 (USD) which is – What?  Too much?  If so, then what is a fair price?


You can see why I didn’t go there.  Truth be told, without my I phone conversion app, which doesn’t work because I have no internet connection outside of South Africa, I _couldn’t_ go there.  So I just sat back and waited to see what would happen.

In the end we had a lovely day. We saw impala, kudu, zebra, ostridge, giraffe and hippo, and, in a safe environment, a number of venomous African snakes. We ate a lovely lunch and when we were through there was a relaxed Patrick waiting for us in the car.

The cab ride and the wait time cost 300 pula ($38.73).   So, did we pay too much to Patrick?
Were we bamboozled?

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