The Okavango Delta

The city of Maun is something I don’t think I can count as an actual city. With both a Woolworths and a Spar it felt big, but there was only a small section of shops before the road continued on in either direction, destined for the next towns that were too far away to mention. The people seemed friendly, probably excited to have some tourist action at hand with most people going through Maun to the Okavango Delta.

We stayed for two nights there, our first day a more relaxed one as we set up camp, explored the city centre and took some time to relax at our campsite, sitting by the pool with books and laptops to take advantage of the wifi and I tried to plan my next steps. Traveling without a plan is always good until you realise you actually do need some form of plan, and you have to decide on it while trying to enjoy your travels. Thankfully when the wifi behaves it gives me a good chance to do my research and attempt to make my decisions.

That night we did the fire the right way and had s’mores after dinner, something we definitely should’ve been doing from the start. A few of us experienced them for the first time which was exciting, and most reviews were good despite the mess they inevitably became.

On Wednesday we took a day trip to the Delta, boarding a 4×4 in the morning which broke down the minute we left the campsite. Four people came to diagnose the problem and the car miraculously started again, though we had little faith that it would get us all the way there.

By some miracle we arrived at the polling station where we would jump on to our mokoros after the long, bumpy journey there. The mokoros were questionable, made of thin wood and any slight movement was a threat to the balance of it. The ‘poler’ stood at the back and used a long stick – the pole – to push us along, directing us through the narrow canals and past the reeds while keeping us at a safe distance from the hippos in the water. The journey to the island took about an hour, where after 10 minutes I began to enjoy myself and had a little less fear for the boat itself as well as the wildlife that surrounded me – somehow this trip keeps pushing me further out of my already expanded comfort zone. On the island we put on our walking shoes and went around for a couple of hours, spotting a giraffe, a few elephants, impala and a warthog, seeing a whole family of elephants on the other side of the water upon our return. It was a very different feeling to the usual safety of being within a vehicle.

After a packed lunch we were back on the return mokoro trip, encountering an elephant right next to the water, not looking too happy for us to pass through. We remained calm until we noticed that our speed had increased very suddenly as our polers pushed to get us completely out of the way as soon as possible. Apparently not exciting enough, the same thing happened with the hippos as we drew closer to the station, each one surfacing and keeping a close eye on us while a couple crept closer, alarming our polers and forcing them to go quickly again. I was pretty happy to hit the bank and jump off, turning around to see them sitting even closer.

The Okavango Delta itself was beautiful, the area we trekked across was full of long grass, trees and a few dried up water holes, making for a perfect spot for the animals staying there. While it was hot it wasn’t unbearable as some days have been and we were able to survive the walk, coated in sunscreen and stopping for water frequently. The guides were knowledgeable and knew where to take us and how to stay safe, ensuring not to scare the animals either. It was a beautiful experience despite the close animal encounters, which probably made it all the more exciting because we came out able to tell the story.

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