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Published: June 17th 2017
I am standing in front of Jan's plane - our transport to the Delta!
Geo: -19.0933, 22.4451
A few days ago, our boss/lodge owner Jan offered us a trip to the Okavango Delta in the neighbouring country of Botswana. He was going there for a two night business trip and there was space in his plane – should we be interested. Paul and I were very interested in going to the Delta, especially as he was only going to have us pay the airport taxes, so a very cheap trip for us. This was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, although I was a bit sceptical of flying in such a small plane! I had seen his plane fly over the lodge plenty of times and everyone who had been for a flight with him did say that it was an amazing experience. So Paul and I accepted his offer.
At a bit after six this morning, we met Jan at a petrol station near Pretoria and followed him to Wonderboom Airport. We parked our car at the small airport and got into his car for the short drive to the hangar.
Standing in front of the plane, I was shaking my head at its size, it seemed so small, and would it
02 Above the City
We flew over the city of Pretoria.
be safe? As Jan prepared the plane and did safety checks, Paul reassured me that we would be fine. A little while later, two of Jan's friends arrived who were also coming with us. They had bought all the food and drinks for our trip. We loaded everything into the plane. I was amazed at how much could be stored away into all its hidey holes/compartments.
It was a six seated plane, which included the pilots. I sat in the back row because I was the smallest and it was a bit tricky to manoeuvre into these seats. I was all buckled up now and ready. It was at about quarter to eight that we took off and went up in the air. Wow! This was really cool and the view was amazing. We flew over farms, industrial areas and residential land. It was a little bit noisy and cool inside, but luckily there was a blanket available to put over my legs.
The first leg of the flight was very short and in less than fifteen minutes we landed. As Wonderboom was not an international airport, we had to fly out of South Africa from one that was. We landed
Paul enjoying the view as we flew towards Pilanesberg.
at Sun City Airport, which was right next to Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Here we had to go through customs and have our passports checked and stamped. Jan also refuelled the plane. The airport officials had a little look in the plane and then allowed us to take off. We were at the airport for about forty minutes and the only people here except for staff.
The next leg of the flight was a long one and lasted about two hours. During this time I did have a little nap, enjoyed the view and read some of my book. It was amazing to be able to see the geography from this viewpoint. Just after 11am we arrived in Maun, Botswana. This is where all the tourists fly into and then get on a much smaller plane and fly directly to their 5 star lodges in the Okavango Delta.
It was quite a busy airport, lots of little planes everywhere. The five of us separated and would meet back at departures in about an hour. The airport was in a quite central location. Paul and I went for a walk, stopping at a souvenir shop first, then went to see friends – Kym
04 Edge of the City
The view of factories on the edge of Pretoria.
and Deon who work for a travel company across the road from the airport and then we had a quick bite to eat.
Once we met up, we went through customs and were back in the plane at half past twelve. One more person joined us for this flight. This third and final leg was a very short ten minute flight, but the most picturesque. The view was amazing from out of all the windows. Jan flew the plane quite low and it was a spectacular experience!
The Okavango Delta is in the north-west of Botswana and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The delta has an abundance of wildlife, many species of both mammals and birds which are attracted to the water. The water in the delta comes from the flooded Okavango River, which flowed from Angola.
We were also lucky enough to also spot wild animals. The game paths were also quite interesting to view from above. We flew right above a herd of elephants as they were about to drink. The flight was over very quickly. We landed on a tiny tarred, airstrip. Here there was one of the lodge engineers meeting us and driving us to
05 Above the Farms
We flew over farmland.
the lodge. I was glad that there would be no more flying for the day, I was happy to be walking around and in a car.
We were staying at Sandibe Lodge, which is in the heat of the Okavango Delta in the Moremi Game Reserve. At the moment the guests were staying in tents while the new lodge and its rooms were being built. We stood in the tray of the 4x4 for the short, but very bumpy drive to the lodge.
We were also staying in tents at the edge of the property. It was a nice view from our camp site. After a quick little snack and drink, we joined Jan on the tour of the lodge. We began with the rooms that had just been started to be built. All the rooms and the main lodge had been designed with a similar shape to a pangolin, very unique. Each room looked out onto the bush, so guests would have a great chance to view wildlife from their decks. The rooms were also very eco-friendly.
We also walked past the waterhole, but there were no animals drinking at the moment. This lodge is unfenced, so I hope we
06 Above the Farms
Looking down at the patchwork colours of the farms.
see some wild animals before we leave.
Back at our camp site, we sat around and relaxed. It wasn't long before we had some visitors in our camp. Two elephants very slowly walked through. They were quite relaxed. Paul and I were more excited than the others and we sat up on the platform and watched it below. They walked right by the platform and then past our tents.
I was glad that we saw the elephants and not too surprised, as their dung was all over the place. In between watching the two elephants, we also saw a Tree Squirrel jump from branch to branch. Soon after, Paul and I went for a walk hoping to see some more wildlife and identify some birds.
At the waterhole, there were still no animals to be seen, except for a few birds. We went to one of the rooms and sat on the deck as we enjoyed the sunset. It was a beautiful location and once the builders have finished it will be a very peaceful place.
Upon return to our camp site, the fire had been started and the others were busy preparing dinner. Paul and I joined in with
Looking down at a river.
preparations and then we all sat around the fire. There were nine of us staying at the camp site tonight.
It was a nice, relaxing evening with the sound of hyenas calling to each other in the distance.
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