Do The Delta Before You Die!
Imagine a river rising in the high Benguela Plateau in central Angola making a geological mistake in losing its way towards the sea and ending up in a Botswanan desert as the largest inland delta in the world! This is the Okavango – one of the last true and well-preserved wildernesses left on earth.
There is something about Africa – and especially one of my favourite places, the Okavango - that brings all one’s senses to the fore. To see, smell, touch and taste Africa is a really special travel experience. In the Okavango, as one flies just above the tree tops into the delta in a small aircraft, with wild life scattering below, the true African experience embraces the visitor. Hearing the click of the local language and observing the bushman’s way of life just whets the appetite even more.
There is something about the smell of the delta; which is why it also commonly known as the Okavango Swamp. The mixture of fauna and flora and their fragrances reminds us that smell is an important sense which heightens any of our experiences. The smell of the swamps is like nothing else in the world.
The awe inspiring landscapes and magical wild life are always fresh in my memory; as is sleeping or sitting around the camp fire under the night sky in the swamps or the nearby Magkadigkadi Salt Pans. The cry of the fish eagle in the early morning is when I realise that I am really back in the wilds of Africa. Lying in my tent listening to the African sounds which never stop – the insects humming, the bird calls, and the wild life snorts and grunts – is something I just love.
· The Okavango River rises in Angola, flows south through Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and enters Botswana’s Kalahari Desert.
· It is southern Africa’s 4th largest river system (1600 kms); and reputed to be the world’s largest inland delta, with islands, reed beds, channels, forest banks and permanent water ways.
· The Okavango Delta, a tranquil, isolated oasis, is 15,000 sq kms of wetland and is one of Africa’s best safari destinations with a special diversity of fauna and flora.
· 95% of the annual water flow eventually evaporates in an ever-changing landscape.
· Most tourists access the Okavango Delta by air.
· The first European explorer to visit the delta was David Livingstone
There are many ways to see the Okavango Delta. The most popular being a fly in safari. The lodges are expensive but exquisite in furnishings and service. Stanley’s Camp has only eight luxury tents, handcrafted wooden beds dressed with the finest linen, antique furnishings and oriental rugs furnish the rooms. Game viewing is by open safari vehicles, on foot and by “mokoro” dugout canoes. Africa boasts an exciting cuisine with fresh vegetables and delicious fruits, all the lodges take pride in serving up the most tasty and innovative meals. A unique feature of this camp is the elephant experience where one can take a walk with a group of semi-habituated elephants. There are many luxury camps, Chiefs Camp, Baines camp, Shinde and Kanana are but a few to choose from, but it is not the only way to see the Okavango.
One can do a walking safari “Footsteps across the Delta”. Accommodation is in spacious tents, each with enclosed ablutions. One spends time walking through the bush with a highly trained tracker discovering the Delta in the finest way. One can do the “Mokoro Trail” being poled through the delta to find the tiny Angolan reed frogs and catch sight of the huge array of different birds. Red Lechwe and sitatunga antelope are easy to spot in some parts of the delta. One can do a mobile camping safari probably one of the cheapest ways to see the Delta. This entails either a flight into a camp site or a 4WD drive (Moremi) and a stay of just a couple of days at each. Many overland trips skirt the outer reaches of the Delta and are able to give the traveller a taste of this incredibly beautiful part of the world.
As a travel specialist who is passionate about this part of the world it is always on my agenda to tell my clients of this safe and friendly country. Tony Park, author of African thrillers has written his latest novel “OKAVANGO”. Tony will be in Bowral to promote his book and the tours that he will be taking for “The Africa Safari Co” to Africa this year. Phone us to find out more details and to book a place to listen to his enthralling experiences in that Dark Continent.
Botswana has much to offer the traveller. It is known to be an expensive destination but one can see it by overland safari which is usually participation camping and fairly rough! One can take a Mokoro trip on the delta, sleep under the stars in the Magkadigkadi saltpans, learn the Bushman’s traditional way of life , take a horse safari through the Tuli Game reserve, rent a boat house on the Chobe River and enjoy the prolific game viewing in Chobe and Moremi National Parks. It is without doubt one of the most exhilarating holiday experiences one can have with the ultimate feeling of living close to nature.