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Into the Okavango
One, coming from the UK, being in environment dominated by the animal kingdom truly turned my world upside down. We live in such a populated island, the only wildlife we see on a regular basis are birds – well the last few days certainly turned that on it’s head…everything had a place and purpose, the whole environment was the result of thousands of years evolution; perfectly symbiotic. The Okavango Delta is large enough for natural migration patterns which not many other places can provide nowadays.
Secondly, no mobile reception, TV, laptops, news, or worries of work – this is one of the most tranquil and serene holidays I have ever had it really showed me how little we need to live happily.
So, here are the highlights
We flew into Maun, described by one of the travellers as the frontier town for the Delta, and it certainly had that feel to it; it’s where most people start We explored the High Street and then enjoyed a 45minute evening flight over the Delta, spotting herds of elephants and zebras, but crucially, we got a sense of the scale of the wilderness; it’s a staggering 16000sqkm!
Days Two & Three
After a short drive in the Land Cruiser we entered the Delta’s designated wildlife area, once we passed the massive buffalo fence which splits the wilderness from the grazing land we were instantly hit by wildlife – a great introduction. Within two minutes there were baboons crossing the road, followed 30 seconds later by hippos relaxing in a waterhole. The 45 minute off-road drive continued to the polling station to meet our guides was and in that time we saw ostriches, giraffes, Tsebes and many birds.
Then it was into the Mokorros for a unique bush experience; being punted through the reeds, enjoying the sun and witty rapport. We arrived at our campsite, which some pollers had set up before out arrival. The wild campsites deserve a mention, the pollers put up and took done most parts, but when we were in Moremi we helped the guides, putting up tents and washing up, leaving them to manage the fire and the cooking, but help was always appreciated and every was willing to chip in. The outdoor showers and toilets were are really unique experience – particularly the shower in Moremi - I found myself lathering up looking out over a herd of elephants and a pod of hippos, definitely one of my best showers…
Here in the Delta, the mokorro pollers took us on walking safaris in the early morning and evening, which were very memorable for me – seeing these guides use their tracking knowledge to uncover herds of elephants, zebras, impala and giraffes – the whole experience was so natural it was breathtaking – nothing but bush land between us and the animals just 50 metres away and I, or they, never felt threatened. The most memorable experience here was taking a mokorro trip to see a hippo pool in the early evening – it was fascinating watching their interaction between themselves and us, all against a beautiful tropical sunset.
Days Four & Five
From here we got back in the Land Cruiser and drove up to Moremi with our local Botswanan guide, Pass. Moremi is known for being rich in wildlife – typifying Botswana’s policy of a low volume of visitors but at a higher price and this certainly added to the experience. It was as game drive should be seen, on most the morning or evening drives we would see just 2- 4 other vehicles in 2-3 hours; a far cry from my initial perception of one leopard lying in the sun and eight trucks around it. For this Botswana is special, you really feel immersed in the wildness. No more so than at night, when you are around the campfire chatting and you hear hippos grunting the background, hyenas calling out and elephants trumpeting. In the reserve you’re not aloud to get out of the truck so our two guides are busy pointing out the game, there were so many amazing birds and animals, but the real highlight was watching a stampede of elephants come across the bush towards our truck. I’ll never forget this, lucky because my images of it were not so great...
This is an abridged summary of my few days in Botswana. I had a great time and I’m happy to talk to anyone about it. It far surpassed my initial expectations and I have come back with better feel for what life is all about. I learnt so much about the animal kingdom, got a real sense of purpose and I can not thank my guides enough- just great, super, amazing, awesome…
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