Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
130Trip End Dec 17, 2008
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After a bit of a rough start to the morning and Helen making the decision that she wouldn't be well enough to go to the delta, we sorted her out with a cabin for the next two days while I packed a day sack and headed of on a truck
After a couple hours drive we finally made it to the delta and the sun came out to warm us all up a bit. We unpacked all the gear from the truck and into the local dug out canoes called Mokoros which are basically tree trunks chiseled out to create a canoe like shape and padded out with straw. They didn't look the most sturdy or waterproof of vessels so we took heed in the advice to stay as low as possible, not rock the dug out at all and not to make any sudden movements. Our punter then proceeded to cast off and we were on our way to the campsite in the middle of the delta.
The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world and doesn't run into any ocean, instead it gets soaked up by the Kalahari Desert. It is currently seen as being in environmental danger due to the Angolans in the North attempting to dam up one of the main rivers to create electricity and sell it to neighbouring counties. A lot of people are worried that one of the most spectacular environments for wildlife in the world could be destroyed if the Angolans continue with their project.
I counted myself lucky then to be lying back in one of these traditional dug out Mokoros silently floating through the reeds and papyrus, it was an almost surreal experience and so relaxing a few people had slept on the hour journey to our camp
At the campsite we pulled up the dugouts and unloaded all the gear, setting up our tents before we were given the rules of the site. Basically don't wander off anywhere as there are loads of wild animals around, only swim in the nearby pool that they assured us was free of crocs and hippos, oh and put the spade across the path when you are using the hole in the ground to relieve yourself, just so you don't get any unexpected visitors.
After the briefing from our guides I was feeling a bit knackered (I was hoping I wasn't coming down with Helen's flu) so had an hour's kip before we were due to go on a walking safari.
Before the walking safari we all headed down to the nearby pool in the reeds to have a bit of a dip and try our hand at Mokoro punting. Amazingly Krys, Mongfoot and Tom (from the previous group) walked around the corner before we were setting off as they had heard us arriving earlier. It was great to see them so we all headed to the water pool together. The water was absolutely freezing but that didn't deter the blokes and then the Swiss girls having a bit of a dip. I had a try at punting one of the dug outs, but it was far more difficult than it looked (these guys punting us definitely had some skills) and I ended up back in the water pushing the canoe back to shore.
After the elephants there was little more in the way of wildlife that was seen, we saw some boars from afar at a watering hole and when we went down there were shown the tracks of lion and zebra, but apart from that it was the end of the walking safari.
Not to worry though as when we returned to the camp, the main guide who's name was "Life" (very cool) announced that we would be getting back into the dugouts to go to a hippo watering hole to watch them at sunset
Dinner was excellent and after a few drinks around the fire we were treated to some African singing by the entire group of guides and camp helpers. It was just like you always imagine African singing to be with the amazing harmonies and voices and people dancing and chanting, everyone got involved and we had a brilliant night, in the end teaching them some of our drinking songs/games.
We awoke in the morning to the guides still singing our drinking game songs as they dished out the coffee and toast. Some of the group had decided on an early game walk, but unfortunately didn't see anything apart from one antelope which made me feel a whole lot better about sleeping in. After packing up the tents and all the camping gear it was time to load up the mokoros and head back to the mainland, it would have been great to stay an extra day out here, out in the bush with all the wild animals, it had definitely been one of the highlights of the trip so far
When we got back to the campsite, I checked up on Maud to see her still bed ridden and not looking to well at all. She didn't have much news as she had only been up for about an hour in the whole time we had been away, but was feeling a bit better from having rested. It was a good job as she was just about well enough to take the scenic flight we had booked for that afternoon, so at least she could see the delta from above.
Julius took us to the local airstrip, were there was a bit of a muck up with what time the flight was and who was supposed to be on it. Eventually Tim resolved whatever issues there were and we headed off to get into the plane, perhaps it had something to do with him claiming to be a pilot (yeah right), but these guys may have possibly believed him. The flight was brilliant and we realized almost immediately that we had only touched the bare minimum of the delta itself on our overnight camp. This place was absolutely huge and we had only gone about 1km in on the canoes to our campsite. You could also appreciate how much game and wildlife there was in this park , we were constantly flying over elephant, zebra, hippos, giraffes, buffalo and all types of antelope, it was weird to think that all these animals would have been around our campsite at night and the only protection we had was a tent. The flight had definitely been worthwhile to see this amazing place from above, hopefully it will remain this way for a long time to come.
That night at the campsite it was time to say farewell to Krys, Tom and Caroline (Mongfoot) who had been on the trip from Nairobi with us
The next morning I had to get up early to make a cooked breakfast with my team, leaving Maud in bed still recovering from her Malaria but feeling slightly better. I had a bit of a sore knee from the antics in the pool the previous night but managed to make a decent enough job of breakfast before we all packed up again and headed to the next port of call - Ghanzi.