Our second destination in Botswana was Maun where we stopped to do a three-day excursion into the Okavango Delta. The Delta is a spectacular collection of waterways formed in the basin of the Okavango River that flows down from Angola. We were transported from Maun and into the Delta in mokoro boats (like canoes but carved from a single tree truck or nowadays made from fibreglass) through kilometres of reed-filled wetlands. The locals who poled us to our bush camp then helped us set up camp (there were no facilities at all even the toilet had to be dug) and lived with us for the next three days. There were eight tourists from our trip, our Zimbabwean cook and the six Botswanan polers and together we created our own temporary village out in the wilderness of the Delta. Each day the locals would take us on guided walks showing us the tracks of animals (was a leopard really that near our camp?), the medicinal uses of plants and pointing out zebras and antelopes. During the middle of the day it was too hot to do much so we lazed around: reading, swimming or trying our hands (with much difficulty!) at poling a mokoro.
On the final evening we were taken for a sunset cruise and when calmly gliding through the reeds and water lilies, we came face-to-face with a hippopotamus. Fortunately, it didn’t seem that bothered by us and it swam away but it was far closer than I’d like an aggressive wild beast to be! After the beautifully relaxing cruise, we made a large bonfire and ate our dinner, drank wine and toasted marshmallows whilst the polers entertained us with some great traditional Botswanan songs and dances... and then it was the tourists’ turn - I just wish I knew the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody better and Rhino was better at playing the air guitar!
If I had a recommendation for the Okavango Delta, it would be to go into it and to go over it. We spent three fantastic days camping in the Delta wetlands and forty-five equally amazing minutes flying over it. In a small 7-seater plane we flew far over the Delta doing extreme banked turns (oh, the g-force when your side window is at right-angles to the ground!) to see herds of wild elephants, bathing hippos, grazing buffalo and antelopes. It really gave us a sense of the enormity of the Delta and the remoteness in which we had been camped. Both experiences were great and I’d highly recommend them.