18.02.2009 - 20.02.2009 21 °C
Not just hype about Hippo's
Maun (pronounced Mau-Uunn) slightly north of the centre of Botswana is the gateway to the Okavango Delta and the last opportunity to pick up supplies for 3 days. The Delta is a vast wetland of lagoons, water channels and islands that spread out like the open palm of a hand across the flat desert landscape. The Okavango River rises in central Angola carrying over 18 billion cubic metres of water annually south east across Namibia’s Caprivi strip into Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Although a vast area of the region is inaccessible it’s easy to see why the Delta is the premier tourist attraction.
Sitting very low in the water in a Mokoro (traditional dug out canoe) we were glad we had opted to take the bare minimum. The reeds beneath our bottoms were quickly saturated by the clean cool delta waters slowly trickling over the low sides. With the sun beating down, the sky a perfect cloudless blue and the lapping water the only sound, Lindsay and I sit back in the slowly sinking Mokoro and find it hard not to be seduced by the calm beauty and tranquillity of our surroundings. Despite having to pause to bail out a couple of times, our Mokoro was amazingly stable (provided we didn’t move!) and our poler expertly poled us and our camping equipment through the reeds answering our questions and pointing out birds, plants and animals while we kept a very keen eye out for marauding hippo’s.
Our camping area was set in the dappled shade in a clearing beneath the trees on a small island. We cooked over a campfire, used fallen trees as seats and dug a hole for our bush toilet. Once we were sure there were no hungry crocs lazing on the banks or humpy crocs below the surface, we waded out into the waist deep channel for a refreshing dip or ‘bath au naturel’. Making sure to stay central in the flowing water to reduce the risk of contracting Bilharzia we were blissfully unaware of the hungry leeches lurking in the shallows …until it was too late!!!
Further Delta days were spent tracking wildlife on foot and by Mokoro. It rained a lot and with no change of clothes we spent the evenings drying out round the campfire, contentedly nursing full stomachs and chatting about the days encounters. We did have 2 alarmingly close encounters with hippos while vulnerable and unprotected in our Mokoro’s! See Facebook video’s. We were woken one night to the sound of roaring lions very close to camp! We were deafened from sunset to sunrise by the incredibly overwhelming noise of insects, sometimes so ear piercing it actually hurt!
We had three fantastic days in the Eastern Delta and later in my trip I was lucky enough to spend a further three days in the Okavango Panhandle, a swampier extension of the Inner Delta up towards the Namibian border. Having been a destination high on my wish list for many years, the Okavango Delta was definitely all it was cracked up to be.