Day 14 – Saturday 10 June: Okavango Delta
A sleep in til 6:30am!! Our lovely wake-up call was KT bringing our tea/coffee! Next was a continental breakfast, including freshly made muffins. Then it was off in the motor boat to Chief’s Island for a bush walk. How nice it was to walk in the Delta scrub, taking in the sights, sounds and smells all around us. Guide Mots and assistant guide, Case, led us on our 2.5 hour trek, during which we took in many glorious sights – elephants, zebras, warthogs, buffalo, red lechwe, baboons and vervet monkeys, along with gigantic termite mounds.
Mots also imparted fascinating facts about our surroundings:
– The wild sage and basil that are rampant in the area are used by local tribes to make natural medicines
– Trunks from the Jackalberry, Sausage and Mangosteen trees used to be hollowed out to build the unique ‘mokoro’ (dug-out canoe). Modern mokoro are made from moulded fibreglass
– Terminalia trees are used to fashion the mokoro poles
– The fibre from “Vegetable ivory” palm trees is used to make baskets
– During drought conditions, an impala will eat the poison apples that grow in the area to abort their unborn foetus
How wonderful to learn about these symbiotic relationships that exist in the African bush.
It was then back in the boat to head back to camp. On the way, we passed a group of 6 male elephants munching in the reeds … they were so close we could almost touch them!
Once back at the camp, we sat down for a lovely lunch of sesame beef stir fry and salads. During lunch we met two new camp guests, a nice Swiss couple. It was then rest time, during which I sat upstairs in the Buffalo Bar and wrote my diary. Norman was at our “room” when he spied a giant monitor lizard (circa 5-foot), clambering up on to our deck. It all happened so quickly that by the time he grabbed his camera, the lizard had disappeared.
At 3:00pm it was afternoon tea time, after which we set off for our mokoro ride. The mokoro is a traditional canoe-like vessel commonly used in the Okavango Delta as a popular mode of transport, and now utilised for game viewing safaris. It has become the iconic symbol of the Delta. The mokoro are kept at Moremi Crossing, another larger camp, so we headed off in that direction. After about 10 minutes we reached the camp, and hopped into our mokoro. Each mokoro holds up to two passengers, plus the boat-man (poler) who stands at the stern using a long pole called a “ngashi”, to pole or push the mokoro forward. Poling is a lifelong skill that is perfected, and one which is held in high esteem in the community.
Off we set in our mokoro with our poler, Mots, gliding silently through the Delta waterways.
It was a very tranquil experience … sitting back relaxing as the water bubbled gently under the mokoro while Mots pointed out the abundant fauna and flora. Sightings included water lilies (locals eat the flowers), an abundance of birdlife, tiny brightly coloured frogs, and hippos that were oblivious to us.
After our glorious mokoro experience we swapped back to our motor boat at Moremi Crossing then set off for our last sunset viewing in the Delta. We made our way to Chief’s Island where we had sundowners, toasting our magnificent Botswana sunset. Then it was back to camp, with sightings en route that included hippos, elephants, birds, and a gigantic crocodile sunning himself.
Back at camp we showered, freshened up and headed to dinner (our last in the Delta). New guests, Florian and Julian, joined us. Once again we had pre-dinner drinks, and we cracked open our favourite, the lovely local Amurela. Sitting around the campfire, Vicky ushered us to form one straight row with our seats. She had a surprise for us! After a few minutes all the staff appeared … and started singing! They entertained us with traditional songs, and dancing. Heather and I even joined in the dancing! Then they delivered a stirring rendition of the Botswana national anthem. It was most moving! After this wonderful surprise, they asked if we had a song to sing. Well, yes we did!! Heather, in her inimitable fashion, had geed up all the guests to sing “Row, Row, Row your Boat” in four-part harmony. And so we did!! All the guests joined in … and the staff thought it was terrific!
Then it was off to dinner … The menu tonight was cream of potato soup, choice of kudu or chicken, and vegetables. Dessert was a toffee slice. It was a fantastic night, and made for a perfect end to our Okavango Delta experience.
This is indeed a place I will never ever forget!