Fire in the Delta

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March 19th 2012
Published: March 19th 2012
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In the largest inland delta in the world, the Okavango Delta was the last place we would think to be seeing more bushfires than wildlife. The islands that surrounded our camp were burning for the duration of our stay and it was only a 15 meter channel that spared our island from the same fate. The animals were escaping from the delta sunburned bushes which were coughing by fire with the wind speed and maybe why we were lucky seeing more wildlife than it is normally possible in the off-season. Well the Okavango Delta was still incredible (especially in the sunset) and worth to visit but unbelievably hot (in the day time above 40-45 degrees in the sun). We didn’t expect to have a possibility to swim in the delta as it is home for many hippos and crocodiles but the guides ensured us that it is no worries to have a quick dip in Okavango Delta. Well how risky is it will remain unknown and we wouldn’t believe Africa security but it was a great dip in the boiling weather.

Because of the lack of rain during the wet season, which it still is, the fires are scattered around the delta. We would hate to see what it is going to be like in the dry season. Although one thing that helps the fires during the wet season is that the water level is very low. This may seem strange but the water that fills the Okavango Delta up comes from Angola as rain a few months ago. In the wet season here the water level is low allowing the small islands to become larger allowing the fires to spread. It did make for an interesting and at times nerve racking time to be there but it is just part of the natural cycle. In the middle of night we were waking up and keeping an eye on the bushfire.

For wildlife viewing in the delta in the wet season it is completely the wrong time to be hoping to see a large amount of wildlife within the delta as this time of the year as rains have drawn them elsewhere or they are hiding in the long delta grass. Along with the wildlife going elsewhere are the tourists who in a way made it a lot nicer atmosphere, very quite with only the birds and crackling bush fires breaking the silence. The wildlife we did see was few and far between and we were lucky enough to see some wildlife though, a pack of thirty odd giraffe were without doubt the highlight.

The dugout canoe is the best way to get around the delta and organizing tours is a breeze once you reach the town of Maun at the southern point of the delta. Cruising through the reeds surrounded by resting frogs and getting eaten by mosquitoes is what to expect but we now have a good idea of what the Okavango Delta is. Prior to this trip we were not too sure of what was waiting but it is best to spend at least one night to make sure you get a good feel for the place. We noticed a few people in the distance going past our camp in the morning and back by mid-afternoon and is would seem to be way too rushed. To stay one extra full day you will expect to only pay an extra $30 US on top of the $60 US for only half a day.

Maun the town itself really a tourist town with not much else going on really. We stayed there for quite awhile as our couchsurfing host is a safari guide and headed out for a few days so we got to look after his place in the bush. Great place, pool overlooking the delta, two angry cats it was a very nice few days. This really has given us a chance to re-charge our batteries and catch up on many things that are simply not possible when constantly moving around.

The Okavango Delta must be an amazing place to see in the dry season when all the grazers head to the water with the big cats close behind. But for us it is not on our top spots in Africa so far but this may be because of the guides that we were unlucky enough to get. These guides were sleeping in, not taking us on our groups walks, and just generally been lazy which put a sour point on the tour. The best thing that these guys did was take us to get an ice cold coke cola when we returned. But we did enjoy the solitude of the delta even with the bushfires roaring only a few hundred meters away which has been a different experience from the usual one.

Additional photos below
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20th March 2012

Thank you
Thank you for your pics of the Okavango, I have been fascinated with the Okavango Delta every since Childhood when I saw the doco, Animals are beautiful people. It's nice to hear of one place in the world that's not being overrun by people trying to make a living.
27th March 2012

Kaip nuostabu....myliu Jus

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