Returning to Africa for today’s travel snapshot … it seems I can’t stay away from that continent, either in my blog or in real life 🙂 As I’ve only done one previous post on Botswana, I’m going to do another … this time on my visit to the Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta is an inland delta, which I find fascinating. When I think “delta” I imagine something like where the Nile River runs into the sea. An inland delta means the water doesn’t flow into an ocean, it just disappears (or evaporates if you prefer but I think disappear sounds more magical). The Delta is located in the Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana (that’s right, it’s an oasis!) and covers anywhere between 6,000-15,000 square kilometres.
I’ve only visited the Delta once, in August 2013 as part of the Cape Town to Victoria Falls Adventure tour I did with G Adventures. We departed Maun early in the morning to begin our journey to the Delta. Loaded with camping supplies and a small overnight bag we first had to drive for a couple of hours by 4WD vehicle to get to the waters edge. Once we arrived, we were paired up and the local “polers” selected a pair each and helped load us into a mokoro for the next step of the journey. A mokoro is a type of dug-out canoe. The polers stand in the back of the mokoro and use a long pole to push you through the river and the long reeds. It’s a skill not easily acquired.
After a couple of relaxing and comfortable hours in the mokoro, we arrive at what amounts to a nondescript piece of wilderness. You see, there wasn’t an actual pre-determined camping spot. Oh no, our polers just look for a nice spot of land and then hop out with machetes and clear a spot for us to pitch tents for the night. While they were busy doing that, we all pulled out some canvas chairs, set them up in the knee deep water around us and took in the beautiful surrounds! Camp that night was basic … there’s obviously no running water, electricity or amenities out here. The toilet was your standard hole in the ground (we were warned to go to the bathroom in pairs at night as there’s nothing separating us from the wildlife!) and there are no bush showers. We spent the afternoon trying to learn how to steer a mokoro (lots of laughs later and nobody but my friend and guide, J, was successful). That evening a spectacularly delicious dinner was prepared over the camp fire. Then after a couple of shots of my favourite south african drink (Amarula), we settled down to watch our poler friends perform dances and songs around the fire. By the end of it, we were all on our feet laughing and joining in. It remains one of the most memorable and incredible experiences of my life.
If you want to hear a small sample of it, please check out the video I posted as part of Dance … the other universal language?
The following morning we were up at the crack of dawn, for another mokoro ride to an area not far from camp. We were to go on a game walk. As you may guess from the name, game walks are like game/safari drives only without the vehicle. We set off with our guides and learnt about the wildlife in the region … how to track and identify prints, what kind of dung belongs to what animals, the role elephants have in the ecosystem of the area. We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife whilst in the Delta, like all safaris it is luck of the draw … some days you see an abundance, some days very little. Returning to camp to pack up and then a mokoro ride back to the awaiting 4WD vehicles, we returned to Maun to collect our luggage and then set off for Kasane and Chobe.
This post is part of my contribution to the A-Z Challenge for April 2016
Click here for a list and links to my other challenge posts!