We left Chobe early for a 90 min flight to the Okavanga Delta. A cute little airport (Kasane) very clean. And empty. We were the only 12 people there in fact. A 3 minute cursory check in, 4 minute security check, complete with the usual X-ray scan, and ushered into the tiny executive lounge (courtesy of our American helicopter pilot friend, Bruce, and his air miles card). Even got a free coffee…Oooh. Too early in the morning for free beer. Someone said. Possibly the American nurse practitioner (Jill Frost doppelgänger).. Can’t argue with that.
The pilot walked us to our 3 X 4 seater Cessna 206 planes and we enjoyed a low altitude 90 min scenic flight over African Savannah to the Okanvango delta, the biggest inland delta in the world, drawing from Angola, before spreading out over a vast area in Botswana before disappearing into desert in the South. The resultant wetland is home to a massive biodiversity, keenly researched by the Wilderness Trust, National Geographic, Wild Bird Trust and many other interlinked organisations cooperating to study and preserve the flora and fauna here. We had a very informative talk from John, one of the key research scientists here, who
also accompanied us to our bush camp later.
The lodge itself (Mopiri) was fabulous, even topping the superb Becks lodge in Hwange. Our own lodge hut was actually 3 huts on the obligatory stilts, connected by raised walkway to the communal area with outdoor dining and bar. All made from wood and canvas, we had a huge bed, a large terrace overlooking the natural lagoon (complete with hippos and crocs) and surrounding bush, and a large bathroom in interlinked hut, contains huge shower, Victorian freestanding bath, and 2 stone basins, all overlooking the lagoon. Oh and a separate study, viewing room. Pure luxury and more than compensating (well, almost) for our previous digs. And to cap it all we discovered that it was all inclusive! They fed us a cooked breakfast, a super lunch, high tea, and dinner, with as much beer and wine as we could drink. It would have been rude not to oblige!! We spent 2 nights here with our rough camp in the middle (ie 3 nights all told). In between the sumptuous meals we had bush walks and boat excursions on the lagoons and channels lined by papyrus and other reeds. These were flat bottomed
aluminium boats powered by outboard, with local guides who were born and bred here. What they didn’t know about the 600 bird species and wildlife, and trees, wasn’t worth knowing.
Having started keeping a bird list (for LYALL), and reaching over 50 ‘lifers’, I lost count here!
The ‘fly camp’ as they call it (wild bush camp last night was an interesting and fantastic experience.
We traveled East by Mokoro, which is a local long narrow canoe, expertly propelled by local ‘polers’, akin to Venetian Gondoliers but without the pretentious fancy dress. This was the only form of transport possible through these shallow canals and lagoons in fact it was like floating silently through Huge fields of grasses and water lilies with the odd croc or pod of hippos raising their heads. Beautiful and somewhat surreal. The fly camp was on a remote island, and the dome tents were already erected, the earth toilet dug, and the bush dining table already set, complete with tablecloth. The camp cook produced a superb 3 course dinner and cooked breakfast the following day. Oh and did I mention the ubiquitous free bar ? No? Well there you are, it was already set up
supplied by giant cool boxes from the lodge. The tents contained 2 camp beds with sleeping bags and torches. We sat round the camp fire after dinner, telling travel stories and finishing the wine before heading off to our respective tents. But not before I had studied the vast and crowded Southern Hemisphere sky, and the constellations only visible in the south. I found my favourite Greater Magellan cloud, a nebula only visible down here. To bed, happy.
Sleep was punctuated by the (too) close grunting of nearby hippos, the most dangerous animal on earth, after Homo sapiens. The planet destroying bastards. Ageing prostate or not, I darent leave the tent until daybreak at 6.30, with a glorious sunrise. And much urological relief.
Bush walk followed with first sighting of Red Lechwe antelope, Hippo, and fresh leapord prints right next to the camp! Good decision to stay in the tent then!
2 hour boat trip back to the lodge and lunch, then a few hours of free relaxing time. Sunset cruise before final dinner here then early start by bus to final stop before we say goodbye to travel mates and flight to Cape Town.
Tot: 0.092s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 6; qc: 26; dbt: 0.0157s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb