A Trip to Botswana and Zimbabwe in Sept./Oct. 2013
Part 2: Okavango Delta
After almost becoming giddy by the rich wildlife in Chobe Nationalpark, I proceeded to the Okavango Delta where I unfortunately had time for one night only.
On the map above you can see my whole travel itinerary in red.
So I took a flight from Kasane to Maun where I had to leave behind part of my luggage, as the tranfer to the camp is done by a small aircraft which can only handle small and lightweight bags. During the following flight in the tiny aircraft we had a beautiful view on part of the Okavango Delta.
We could clearly see many thin white lines on the ground which are the beaten tracks of many animals. Sometimes we could even spot elephants, which is always a welcome sight to me. Thankfully we landed before I became too 'flight-sick'.
It is a very simple camp situated on one of the islands between the numerous arms of the Okavango river, therefore you cannot access it by car, and of course safaris by car are also not possible there.
First of all, the new guests had their lunch and moved into their tents. The tents in this camp are very simple and rather small, they only contain mattresses and bedlinen - that's all.
But each tent has its own adjoining bathroom, open air behind a fence of branches. It is astonishingly comfortable. The long tap of the washbasin can be turned and you can fill the bucket with it. Once full, you can lift the bucket with the help of a rope system, open a valve and have a perfect shower under it!
Safaris in Okavango are done in mokoros (dug-out canoes) and a poler (= the driver who is pushing the boat forward by a long stick - why does it remind me of Venice?) and then you are having a walking safari on one of the river islands. It was an interesting experience.
A trip in a mokoro is very slow and very quiet. As you are sitting low, you do not have any overview of what may await you after the next papyrus bunch. And you are always aware that there are a lot of hippos in the water.
Already from the camp we could spot some hippos in the reed.
Finally my poler stopped and we left the boat for a walking safari on one of the islands.
By the way: Everyone has his/her own poler (= tourguide) for such a walking safari so that each group is max. 2 - 3 persons.
Somehow you feel a bit insecure because you always suspect a lion or an elephant appearing from behind a bush, and you never know if it understands that you just want to be friends with it! The tourguide does not carry any weapon. But he told me that the animals in this area are used to walking tourists, so they usually stay relaxed. OK, that was somehow reassuring.
Actually, we did not meet a lot of animals during this walking safari. There were some warthogs (rather close) and a herd of impalas (very far away).
And we met this beautiful giraffe.
We slowly approached it, and when we were rather close, the giraffe just changed over to the neighbour tree, but I couldn't say if it was because it wanted to keep a certain distance from us or if the leaves of the other tree were just too enticing.
Back in the mokoro, we had an incident with a hippo. I have no foto as a proof, but this, of course, happened so unexpectedly that I did not have my camera ready in that very second.
We were passing by this 'bay' when suddenly with a splash the head of a hippo appeared above the water and rushed forward in our direction, big mouth open. My poler as well as the other one we had met immediately moved our mokoros to the nearest bank as fast as they could.
There we were waiting for a while, not moving, just watching the water for any suspicious waves. Nothing. So the hippo had just threatened us away from its peaceful place where it did not want to be disturbed. So when my poler was rather sure that the hippo had calmed down and/or hopefully swam away, we resumed our way back to the camp, but this time we made a wide detour around the place where we had seen the grumpy hippo.
Back in camp, I had to face a problem with the organisation as the staff had told me that my flight back to Maun tomorrow would leave in the very early morning already. My plan had been to join the morning safari which would end at around 11 a.m. and after that take a flight back to Maun. I was talking and talking to change this plan, but in the end I had to give up and come to terms with this very, very short stay in Okavango Delta. The next possible flight back to Maun would have been too late for me to catch a bus to Gweta there, so I had no choice. I must say that this put me in a rather bad mood as I had paid a horribly high price for just this one night in Delta, and a morning safari (that I would miss now) is usually the most interesting and beautiful safari. Later, in Maun, I went to the office of the company where I booked this trip and complained about my missing morning safari, and I at least received some of my money back.
Later in the eveing, in Oddball's Camp, all the guests had dinner together, in an almost complete darkness. We could hardly see what we ate. I think the reason that the lights were so low is not only to save electricity but also not to attract too many insects that would want to share our meal.
Next morning I was awake early to watch the sunrise, and then I could do nothing but watch the others enter their mokoros for the morning safari - and wait for the plane.
Again it was one of these small aircrafts which takes max. 8 people (including the pilot).
After the baboons had left the airfield, we could take off.
One last glance at the delta landscape with some elephants, and around 25 minutes later we landed in Maun.
… to be continued in Part 3 (next page)