Dirty Delta Days

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Africa » Botswana » North-West » Okavango Delta
May 11th 2012
Published: May 19th 2012
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Prior to beginning this blog I have a couple of corrections from previous blogs and status updates:
My apologies, it is the buffalo which is found in Africa, the water buffalo is in Asia. Sorry Worthingtons!As previously updated we camped by the banks of the Ovkavango river. I feel I should confess that we didn’t actually camp that night. In Etosha I was beginning to get sick and grumpy so we made the tough decision to upgrade to a lodge room for $25 for a good shower and good nights sleep required to maintain our sanity -- this may not have been the last time we took the comfy option either, more on that later!

I would also like to take you on a little trip into my past -- school camps. I always seemed to be the dirtiest person on these camps, without actually trying. On year 9 camp I managed to turn my hair into a messy dreadlock, cover my brand new tshirt in half of the murray’s mud and dirt and generally be a burden on my canoe partner as I insisted on capsizing the boat most days. I’m pretty surprised mum took responsibility for me when she came to pick me up! I tell you this because I felt that these days were behind me. I haven’t been thrilled about being dirty most of this trip and figured I was better prepared to be clean for this bush adventure. This will have relevance in a little while!

OK! Sorry about all that, just wanted to clear it up!

Well rested and recuperated, we set off early for Botswana, which meant only one thing - sealed roads! However the joy of a smoother drive was soon quashed as we constantly slowed down and stopped for cattle, donkeys and goats crossing the road at their own free will. It was a long morning but finally we arrived in Maun which is the hub of the delta, so much so that even donkeys, chickens and dogs scavenge the rubbish bins. We actually camped at this location but not before making friends with the manager, Nick, who sat with us and had some very frank conversations which would probably insult most people. We also confirmed that helicopter and fixed wing pilots in the middle of Botswana are about as obnoxious and drunk as Ayers Rock ones!

The following morning the challenges began as we were driven out to a Delta community to pick up polers for our excursion in a mokoro. A mokoro is a dug out canoe that is made from smooth round trees which the local villagers use to navigate their way around the channel of the delta. The Okavango is the world’s largest inland delta stretching 15,000km which originates from the Okavango River emptying into a swamp in the Kalahari desert and then traveling back up to Botswana creating a land of channels in the shape of your hand. As we loaded up our mokoros with all our supplies for the next 2 days we met our polers who would be our guides over the weekend. Our poler was Dutchman. The mokoros are very close to the water but the water is very shallow so we were safe from our perceived threat of crocodiles and hippos on our travels. We soared through reeds which covered us in spider webs and floated through pools of water lilies which made the 2 hour trip very relaxing. We pulled into a secluded cove which would be our home for our stay in the delta. After setting up camp it was siesta time - 5 hours of this time! The days were very hot and the men were quite tired after our trip out so we enjoyed this time to play cards, read and nap, or in my case, somehow manage to cover all my nails, clothes and tent in dirt. After siesta we were summoned back into the mokoros for a short game walk. As the delta is much like an archipelago it consists of many islands which the game call their own. Due to the time of year and the size of the delta we were not expecting to see many animals on our wanderings but it was brilliant to see the area by a different form of transport. Our sighting for this short walk was a herd of Zebras which are the animal of botswana, so we considered this a rewarding walk. We were also blessed with a wonderful red sunset on the way home.

Another quick childhood story. As a young baby I would hang out with our nanny, Mercy when we were in Zimbabwe. Mercy would eat her native maize meal known as sudsa by rolling the white substance in her hands. I picked up on this and consequently ate my mashed potato in a similar manner being very proud that I was eating susa like Mercy. It took mum quite some time to stop me from doing this even after we moved to Australia. So mum, I’m sorry for what may come of my next story!

We returned from our game walk to find Robert had cooked us a meal that is traditional in his village in Harare. I assisted in the cooking of the sudsa although he had to take over to smooth it out. As it was a traditional meal we ate it the traditional way, sitting on the floor (in the dirt and ashes) and eating with our right (filthy) hand. It was spectacular! Along with the sudsa we had a chicken stew and steamed cabbage mixed with peanut butter (yes I did say that combination)! The process was to break off a small amount of sudsa, roll it in our fingers and use it to scoop up the chicken, then the cabbage. Following the above stories we can imagine what I looked like by the end, but I enjoyed it too much to care about the peanut butter, sudsa, tomato, dirt mix on my hands and clothes!!

I woke early for a 3 hour game drive the next day. Megan sadly wasn’t up to it after the sun and lack of water the previous day and one of the canadians was just having trouble enjoying anything about the trip as a whole so I jumped into the mokoro with the sensible canadian and 2 guides. We had a wonderful morning wandering around an island spotting elephants, wildebeest, pumbas, buffalo skulls and leopard footprints. Once again the game were not out and about very much but it was nice to have a long walk and to see the landscape of this spectacular spot. On the way home we found a few hippos but didn’t want to get too close and Dutchman made us both some waterlily necklaces. We returned home to find Megan and Robbert cooking up a very impressive brunch for us while our favourite Canadian supervised (cause her maid or boyfriend usually cooks for her). As I zipped off the long parts of my shorts I revealed some mould looking legs which had accumulated more dirt and mixed with sweat -- delicious!!! After brunch Megan and I went to the swimming spot for a bathe! All clean and sort of shiny we set off for a sunset cruise. The polers took us back to where we had seen the hippos in the morning and we sat in our mokoros with our pringles and coke watching Hippos doing their thing as the sun set on another wonderful day.

We left the delta the following morning and bit our wonderful polers farewell. We were dirty, tired and disgusted in our fellow travellers behaviour for the whole weekend BUT this was most fun we have had so far on this trip. Game drives, sunset cruises and mosquito nets in Chobe National park will be following soon!

Additional photos below
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Not everyone appreciated the viewNot everyone appreciated the view
Not everyone appreciated the view

John tried to show her sunset and the hippos but to no avail!
2 of our 4 wonderful polers2 of our 4 wonderful polers
2 of our 4 wonderful polers

Me, Brave, Megan & Dutchman

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