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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: -19.0933, 22.4451
Waking up at 4AM today had not been my plan, but going to bed by 9:30PM ensures adequate sleep. Plus, an elephant was trumpeting and snorting outside, not too far from my cabin. What a treat to celebrate our last night at Baobab Lodge! It was sad to leave this part of Botswana and all the lovely, friendly people at this lodge. But more African adventures beckoned, and another group was scheduled to arrive this afternoon, so our group had to leave.
While two lucky members on our tour got to fly in a 4 seater, the rest of us flew in a little 12 seater SSW to the Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta waterways in the world. I've always enjoyed flying in small planes. When I was little a friend of my father's would take him plus me and my two younger brothers up in 2 seaters; the combined weight of the three of us children was less than one average adult, so we squeezed into two seats, experiencing the thrills of flying and observing the world from on high. We enjoyed countless flights with this friend, as he was practicing his take-offs and landings; we'd soar and then land, take-off again, fly some more, and then land again. It was great fun! Seen from the sky, Botswana is green, green, green at this time of year. We flew at 7500 feet so it was impossible to see any animals on the ground. But I tried. Puffy white clouds were below us, capturing rainbows and coloring our views of the earth below. It was a glorious ride on a sunny, sparkling morning.
Our plane landed on a dirt runway; this is the bush! Then into more jeeps, bigger and higher and more sturdy than at Chobe for exploring the Okavango Delta. Here we drove on trails covered by deep water (covering and splashing well over the first running board) or hidden by tall grass. How did our driver know where he was going? What if we got stuck? I am an excellent swimmer, but these waters are full of poisonous snakes and other creatures who might want to eat us. But here we are bumping along or swimming through invisible tracks as we watch for more animals, hanging on as well as we can. This was another thrilling ride, one we'll partially repeat several times until we leave Okavango. Now we are in tents; the Wilderness Tented Camp is in the middle of nowhere, so there are no locks, no doors, just zippers to keep out the insects and wild critters. But again I slept well at night.
By our afternoon safaris the drive through the wetlands became enjoyable as riding through lakes became more expected and normal. We found a baby crocodile in one of the swamp "roads" near camp; Taps, the driver and guide for my jeep today, thought the little croc wouldn't make it as baby crocodiles are prey for so many larger animals. Feeling compassion for a crocodile was a completely unexpected emotion. As we continued our game drive, thunderheads were building, the temperature dropped, and the wind picked up. This has been the wettest rainy season since 2010. Sku has told us about the terrible drought conditions especially during the last two years, so the people of Botswana are thankful for the rains, even though it kills ironwood trees and makes some of the already high water roads through the delta impassable by jeep. This, in turn, impacts tourists, the second largest income producing trade in Botswana after mining. But the animals and the Batswana (the people of Botswana) are happy. Relief has come.
Even with the rainstorm looming, Taps did not hurry us back to camp, although he kept checking the sky. We arrived back still dry, now enjoying the magnificent lightning playing over the delta. Because the evening was bordering on becoming chilly now, the staff met us with warm cloths for our faces and hands rather than the usual cold ones. (We are so pampered here!) Our tents were already closed up against the coming downpours, but it never rained that night.
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