Down the road from Chobe is a completely other sort of national park – the Okavango. Made up from waters which flow down from Angola it forms the largest inland delta in the world. The waters flow into a tectonic basin where it sits and is absorbed or evaporated away – never reaching the sea or another river.
There was some drama before we set off in the form of a missing passport for one of our group – a passport that couldn’t be found until, in desperation, we unrolled all the tent mattresses and there it was! All set we were ready to head to our base deep in the delta.
Our transport to camp were makuros – a narrow boat pushed by poles through channels made in the reeds by the hippos.
Just as we were heading out Anna asked Murphy, our poler, whether hippos ever surface and at that very moment we had an almighty bump from what was thankfully just a dead tree!
Our campsite was in a simple clearing on the riverbank with a loitering hippo watching offshore preventing any swimming. The toilet facilities were pretty basic to say the least – a hole in the ground. Since we were in the middle of the bush we needed extra precautions when going at night – ‘small business’ could be done by the tent but for ‘big business’ a companion was needed.
Sacha, from Canada, graciously offered to be my ‘business partner’ but luckily I never had to wake her in the early hours for big business negotiations.
On our first day we headed out for a bush walk which was quite a different experience from being in the car – quite exposed really. Walking up to a herd of elephants was thrilling and their size is deceptive – they actually walk very fast normally and took off completely once they smelt us.
The giraffes were similarly a bit shy but some looked like they were auditioning for an Abba video!
The rest of the time back at camp was spent playing chess, cards & reading and, once the hippo pushed off, trying our hand at the makuro poling which was much harder than it looked.
At sunset the expert polers brought us out for sunset drinks, I never got tired of the ‘big-sky’ sunsets in Africa.
On our final day a few of us took the opportunity to take an hour flight around the delta. Zipping across the green landscape we expected more water but this was low water as the rains in Angola the previous year were mild. Nevertheless it was a fantastic way to round off the trip by zipping over packs of elephants and antelope as we flew 200m above them across endless green landscape.