One of the most amazing places to go camping is by far in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. But let me first tell you how you I got there!
My family and I had taken a safari tour throughout Southern Africa starting in CapeTown and ending at Victoria Falls. Half way through the tour, we visited the land lock nation of Botswana. We arrived in the city of Maun and had to take 5 seater plane on a 20 minute flight to our campsite in the Okavango Delta. Luckily for me, I had fallen ill with one of worse session of food poisoning of my life just before we reached Maun and to make it even more fun, I am terribly afraid of flying so that 5 seater plane was just perfect! Even though I am insanely afraid of flying (which is quite the curse for a travel junkie like myself), I somehow managed to look out the window during my flight. So happy that I had the courage to do so as the view was unreal. Breathtaking sites of some of the country’s natural beauty on display; zebras, springbok, elephants and buffaloes roaming wild amongst the grasslands which quickly became lush green swampland. The magic captured in my eyes as we flew lower and closer to one of the seven wonders of Africa.
Our landing strip was quite a sight – a tiny dirt road with one sign attached to a tree warning pilots to beware of elephant crossing. We landed safely onto the strip and quickly took our luggage towards the campsite. The main lodge was parched right along the river with a great view of all of what the floodplains had to offer. After checking in, we slowly made our way to our tents. The camp was very basic but comfortable with sleeping bags placed on wooden plates near the river’s edge. I shared a tent with my sister and all we kept each other up all night listening to the sounds of the elephants trumpeting and hippos singing. I can’t deny that every night I had a dream or more like a nightmare that a large hungry hippopotamus would open up its jaws and snatch up our tent and drag us down to the depths of the delta. Especially after my incident where I was alone and on my way to the open air bathrooms when I stumbled across a family of warthogs (definitely not as cute or small as they are portrayed by Pumbaa in Lion King). I panicked and froze and of course was in the middle of the pathway of the warthogs. They froze. They stared at me. I was not sure what to do. Out of nowhere, my tour guide grabbed me and pulled me to the side of the path. He told me to not make a word. The Pumbaa family started back on their way. They walked straight past us and out into the wilderness. That was a close encounter and I did not once go to the bathroom by myself again!
We spent our days taking rides in the Mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) staring out on the endless array of wildlife surrounding us in water as well as watching out for any naughty hippos. We did hear horror stories of the hippos and incidents where locals may have been attacked so still trying to figure out how this “Happy like a Hippo” saying came about. We also decided to do a walking tour out in the grasslands with a local guide and one shotgun. It was one of the craziest adventures that I had been on; not only did I look behind me every few minutes to make sure we were not being followed by a hungry leopard or lion but I froze once again when we came close to an elephant. Driving around the National parks, elephants appear gentle and eloquent. However standing a few meters from a full grown elephant does not give you the same impression. It was perfectly safe but I think I may visit national parks in a vehicle in the future but it sure was worth doing once!
Whether you decide to explore the Okavango Delta by mokoro, on foot or on game drive. A maze of sparkling lagoons, meandering channels and overgrown islands teeming with wildlife awaits you! Botswana’s Okavango Delta lies like a sparkling jewel at the heart of the Kalahari Desert – an oasis in an arid nation with one of the continent’s richest park densities.
Please contact me if you have any questions or help need planning your next trip to the Okavango Delta!