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Okovango Delta - "You Never Know..."

Okovango Delta - Botswana

sunny

This trip nearly didn't happen...rain had been constant and we'd been warned Xakanaxa Camp was almost under water. But a chink in the storm clouds saw us pop safely onto the landing strip in our diddy bushplane.

And what a sight..the Delta rendered almost fluorescent green in its brilliance. And the "Mud, Glorious Mud"! Such excitement as our Land Rover seemed to take on amphibian characteristics, launching down flooded tracks and into big brown gloopy puddles, its snorkel exhaust puffing as we passengers clung on with ridiculous grins.
Puddles!

Puddles!

Raised tents at Xakanaxa Camp are splendidly traditional with crisp cotton linens, hurricane lamps, writing desk, hair dryer (I know...how fab is that). Bathrooms (hot showers) are open to the elements and a shopping heaven for naughty vervet monkeys who, if you are not following Camp advice, will be sharing your lipstick at their nightly Show and Tell. A raised king size bed (inside) and two loungers (outside) are perfectly situated centre stage for any impromptu performances in the Xakanaxa lagoon and on the banks of the Khwai River, a mere stone's throw away.

Tent View

Tent View

Camp Tent

Camp Tent

Hippos the world over clearly have some great jokes; Xakanaxa's keep you awake all night, finally giving their audience a rest at around 3am. Newlyweds at the other side of Camp 'enjoyed' the added excitement of hyaena running around outside their tent throughout the second night, and while the groom slept through its special brand of humour, his bride didn't think it was anywhere near as hilarious as the hyaena obviously did!

Guides in the Delta (especially at this time of the year) need x-ray vision. Olli didn't disappoint with his uncanny ability to spot things binnocular-free. An example: dusk at the boma, cocktails, guest chatter in full flow, Olli's eyes narrowed and out came the finger, pointing across river to a dense reed bed. "There's a (rarely sited) sitatunga." He'd done it again.

This part of Botswana is a joy to behold with prolific species of game and birdlife. Now, is it just me who comes over all Liverpuddlian when vultures are spied on a branch? (Do watch Jungle Book, if you haven't already, then you'll understand) For four days we watched and...the vultures watched. Us perched in our vehicle, them perched in dead trees, as a pride of lion slowly demolished their buffalo kill. It was a fascinating example of bloody mindedness (lion) and patience (vultures). On the fourth day my companions begged to, "give the corpse a miss today" - the stench was unendurable, flesh green and writhing with maggots. Absolutely riveting. I loved it.
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With no sense of smell I am always blissfully unaware of nostril shrinking horrors. It was the same at Muscat's fabulous Fish Market, and the backstreets of Cairo and Mumbai. Of all the senses to lose this is the only one that comes with benefits!

'Drives' on the river are equally thrilling. With Camp's traditional dugout mokoro canoes waterlogged we retreated to a motorised variety. The seeming maze of passages through reed beds heighten those 'what if' feelings as hippos bob, crocs slide, fish flip and birds swoop. Pulling up onto an area of reeds for sundowners while simply watching the birdlife going about its business is sublimely relaxing and uplifting. Have you ever seen young Marabou storks? What a vision. Talk about 'bad hair day'.

Sunset in the Okovango Delta

Sunset in the Okovango Delta

Game drives in a wet Delta are full of the unexpected. Lush grass and tree-leaf hide all manner of game; like the resting leopard we unknowingly drew up alongside. Just the rise and fall of her tummy amongst the bush's leaves catching my eye. Magic. That's the joy of Africa; what will turn up, be spotted or heard with your next twist and turn? You never know.

Posted by haveyoubeenyet 05:08 Archived in Botswana Tagged monkeys water tent mud lion hippo leopard kill vultures okovango_delta xakanaxa_camp bushplane hyaena

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