The Okavango Delta is a labyrinth of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels covering an area of over 17,000 square km and it is the largest inland delta in the world. The Okavango is produced by seasonal flooding. It drains in the summer and peaks in the winter, when the delta swells to three times its permanent size, attracting animals from kilometres around and creating one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.
On the mainland and among the islands in the delta, lions, elephants, hyenas, wild dog, buffalo, hippo and crocodiles congregate with a teeming variety of antelope and other smaller animals – warthog, mongoose, spotted genets, monkeys, bush babies and tree squirrels.
After 10 hours of an adventurous bus ride from Gaborone (Botwsana’s capital), we ended up in Maun, the small city in the North of Botswana from where Okavango can be reached. Maun is often called as the ‘’tourism capital’’ of Botswana as well, due to the high number of tourists that arrive every year.
Our first day we spent it with Ernest, a very friendly local man, who we met through Couchsurfing and invited us to his beautiful ecological house in the forest, just a bit outside of the town. The next two days, we were lucky enough to find one of the best backpackers we have ever stayed!
The ‘’Old Bridge’’ provides a comfortable base next to the river and offers stunning views, especially during the sunset and the sunrise. Camping, dorms, great atmosphere, super friendly service and good value for money! After eating a tasty pap (cooked maize flour) from the restaurant, we pitched our tent at a really nice spot just next to the river!
The main purpose of us visiting Botswana, was of course to see the Okavango Delta. So, in a beautiful morning we set up for a 2 days mokoro trip in the inlands of the Okavango – mokoro is a thin and long wooden traditional boat.As our base would be a random place in the middle of nowhere, we had to carry our tent, our cooking equipment, etc..
Being accompanied by three Germans and one Canadian guy, we started our trip in the Delta. Each mokoro can carry two people plus the guide who is pushing the mokoro with a long stick. On our way, we passed through small villages where the bushmen live with just the basics, do not even think about electricity!
People are fishing, kids are playing in the water and the life goes on so calmly at this part of the planet. Just before the afternoon, the guide found a place where he though that it would be ok to pitch our tents. Actually the scenery looked similar everywhere and nothing indicated that an elephant would not pass from that spot, but anyway! He probably knew better than us.. Few seconds after that, we heard noises coming from elephants not far from our spot! We all went a bit further and saw 5 elephants about 50 meters away playing with each other! ‘’Don’t worry, you are lucky, they are going the other way, we are safe here’’the guy said, and hopefully he was right!!
It took us a few minutes to put our tent while the guides were preparing the fire so we can cook our lunch. ‘’You are looking for troubles I think, you put your tent right on the elephant highway!’’ said the guide, teasing us!
After eating and chilling in the shadow it was time for a refreshing swim at the Delta! In the beginning we were a bit reluctant, but after seeing the Canadian and German guy running into the water, it didn’t take us long, and we were playing with them in the water. I still remember how weird but at the same time awesome was the feeling to swim not at a beach, but at an inland delta. We also did not miss the opportunity to try ourselves to push the mocoros, which proved to be impossible to manoeuvre!
It was time for our walk in the bush to spot animals. So, we put long pants and shirts for the mosquitos, took our cameras and started walking behind the guide who seemed experienced and familiar with the place. And that proved true, as after a while we saw zebras, elephants, wildebeests, etc, from a distance of course, as it is different when you are on foot, unprotected.. everthing can happen in the bush!
On the way back, the day was ending with one more stunning African sunset – I don’t know how many decades of sunset pictures I have in my camera, but they are all awesome).
Dinner was cooked and eaten quickly as we were all tired and after a few traditional songs from our guides who wanted to entertain us, we headed to our tents to sleep. The sure thing is that we all had a big smile from the moments of the day. We felt so blessed to be at this beautiful place where lots of people have on the top places of their bucket list!africa, Botswana