After days out in the Namibian Desert we were ready to meet the wet elementary, and who knew that it could be that wet. It was time for the tented part of the trip; it was Okavango Delta time!
A river delta usually leads to the open sea, but in Botswana the Okavango River empties onto open land and floods the savannah. The Okavango Delta is a unique pulsing wetland. On the 22nd June, 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1000th site to be officially inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s also listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
We loaded the 4×4 and started the tour into the delta. It took us almost two hours to get to the poling station, and we had a short stop in the village where the poler-men live.
We arrived at the starting point of the tour, met the local people who were taking us out in the delta. We packed all of our equipment into the makoros and jumped in – two persons per makoro with their own private poler. And the journey into the delta began.
It didn’t take a long time before we had our first meeting with wild animals; the hippos! First we heard them, and then we saw them. We know how dangerous they can be, so we’re in the delta on their premises. Stay on a distance and give them their space, and everything will be just fine. The polers took good care of us and gave us a pleasant 1.5h long ride to the camp.
Pic taken by Marica van der Meer
The first thing we did was to put up the tents and organize the camp before we ate lunch. The time in the delta was our “vacation time”; no preparation of food, no dishwashing, only responsibility of getting up the tents with good assistance of the polers, all other preparations were their work in the delta. They were very eager to get started, but first some of them had to go back to pick up more of their things. So we relaxed in the camp, some went for a swim and from the camp we saw an elephant.
Our toilet for the stay in the delta
The locals fished to prepare their own dinner
Early that evening we went out for a nature walk, and we saw: elephants, zebras, and wildebeests… It was such a beautiful sight: the low sun, thunderstorm in the distance, rainbow, wildlife and beautiful nature = the perfect scenery!
For dinner that night we had a beef stew with rice enjoyed by the campfire.
7 am the next morning we took our walking shoes on and went for another nature walk. Someone found hippo tracks only 40m from our camp – fresh from that night (our guide Pumi had also heard lions).
And only a 50m long walk from the camp we got to see a lonely old buffalo, also known as Black Death. He was standing approximately 50-75 meters in front of us. Our hearts was pounding, we knew that this one could be dangerous, and it’s said that the buffalo have killed more big game hunters than any other animal in Africa. Thank God we had the wind on our side that day. We backed off, and he could wander his own way without feeling that he had to attack us.
After a long walk we found a herd of zebras and we got pretty close. Then we walked to the rhino pool and watched them whilst they were lying in the water. We also saw one chasing another one, and DAMN they move fast in the water!
Back at the camp we ate brunch: eggs, bacon and beans. Then some of us did go to a suitable place were we could swim (in the delta). The polers took us there.
Photo taken by our guide Dee
Later that day we went on another short walk. We didn’t see anything in particular, but we met some heavy rain!A bit after 5pm we went out in the makoros for a sunset cruise. We saw a giraffe and some hippos, and one of them started chasing us. Since the rain and thunder came closer and closer we decided to go back to the camp, and glad we did so! During the dinner it start to rain pretty heavy. We all got into the “kitchen” and sat there for the dessert: Peppermint crust mousse (or something like that). Then we had sing along before we went to bed. We had to exploit the short break from the rain to run to our tents.
A happy guide
It was poring down the whole night and just kept on during the next day. At 7 we got up and out of our tents, ate breakfast and started packing, then we had to take down the tents – at a place like this you have to be aware of that it can be snakes and scorpions under the tents so you must be very careful when rolling up the bottom of the tent. There were only a bunch of spiders all over the tents. When everything was gathered we could bring our stuff and find our makoro and start heading back to the polerstation.
So there we sat in the makoros, the rain was pouring down and there was nothing to do about it. Everything was soaked! We were so glad it wasn’t us who were going out into the delta on the day we came in from it though.
Despite all the rain, and that this part of the tour had the simplest accommodation; with a hole in the ground as a toilet and creepy crawlies all over the place, this was the highlight of the great African adventure.
Did you know that we got a story about our time in the delta published in a book?