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Okavango Delta, Botswana

May 14, 2009

Day 16

Spent most of today driving to the Botswana border with a short stop in Windhoek to do some shopping.  We spent the night at a place called Zelda’s farm where they fed some cheetahs and a leopard that they have captive.


Day 17

Another day of driving. The roads in Botswana are really bad, by far the worst I’ve seen so far on the trip.

In the afternoon, we arrived at a campsite on the edge of the Okavango Delta. We took a scenic flight over the Delta and saw several animals from the air (but we all felt a little sick by the end of the flight in the small plane).

Sitting in the plane before taking off over the delta.

Sitting in the plane before taking off over the delta.

A view from the plane over the Okavango Delta

A view from the plane over the Okavango Delta

Day 18

Mokoro Station - where we switched from the motor boat to our Mokoros.

Mokoro Station - where we switched from the motor boat to our Mokoros.

We left this morning to head into the Delta. The Okavango Delta really ended up being a highlight of the trip for me. The Delta is fed by underground springs coming from the mountains in Namibia, and so the water is crystal clear. We had to take a motorboat from our campsite to the Mokoro Station, which is where we switched to our Mokoros.  Along the way, we saw a couple of hippos in the river.

Sitting in the Mokoro on out way to the campsite.

Sitting in the Mokoro on the way to our campsite.

Mokoros are narrow canoes that are traditionally dug out from trees local to the area. Nowadays, they are often made out of fiberglass and given to the local people to help prevent deforestation. They are driven by a poler who stands in the back of the Mokoro and pushes it along with a long pole.  We were only allowed to go to out campsite in the Mokoros. In each Mokoro, there were two passengers and one poler.

One of the prettiest parts of the delta is all of the water lilies that sprout up out of water all over the place.

One of the prettiest things in the delta are the water lillies that sprout up out of the water. There are hundreds of them visible almost every where on the river.

We arrived in our camp after about a 2 hour ride in the mokoro. Our camp is really out in the wilderness. No lights, no electricity, no running water for the next two days. We set up our tents and took a break as it was now the middle of the day and quite hot. While we were waiting in the camp, we got a chance to pilot the mokoros in the water around the campsite, and I developed a new respect for the polers – its much harder than it looks.

Lori poling the Mokoro backwards  into the ground.

Lori poling the Mokoro backwards into the ground.

In the afternoon, we split into two groups and went on a game walk. We saw a large herd of zebras but not much else.

On our afternoon game walk.

On our afternoon game walk.

Day 19

Lori wading across to one of the larger islands during our game walk.

Lori wading across to one of the larger islands during our game walk.

One of several termite mounds encountered during our walk.

One of several termite mounds encountered during our walk.

We woke early and went on a 4 hour walk through the delta. As part of the walk we had to cross over to one of the larger islands. In order to do so, we had to wade through one of the smaller branches of the river. We all took our socks and shoes off, rolled up our pants, and plunged right in. Definitely an experience! During the walk we saw several zebras and got up close to some of the termite mounds that we had been seeing throughout the trip. These things can get really huge, and the big cats often stand on top of them in order to search for prey in the surrounding area.

After the walk, we came back to the camp to eat lunch and take a break before the afternoon game walk. While we were waiting, Lori and I took a short swim in the water and washed off some of our shoes and socks in the water. It was unbelievable how clear and cool the water was since the delta itself is so hot and humid. There were two elephants close that came within 100 meters of our camp (we could hear them during the previous night).

In the afternoon, we went on a short game walk and got really close to a herd of zebras. Then our guides took us on a short Mokoro ride to a place where we could watch the sunset over the delta.

Back at the campsite, we had a traditional African dinner and our guides told some stories and sang some songs before we went to bed.

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