Written by Jessica Lohmann, Safari With Us
Anyone who has been to the Okavango Delta in Botswana will probably agree: The vast open space and intense beauty of this region automatically relaxes every muscle of your body.
I was with my family on a three-week African tour last winter and after day six, we were a bit exhausted from travelling and safari touring. Little did I know that the next two days were going to be equally relaxing and exhilarating.
We observed the Okavango Delta from the water, on land and up in the air. These three different perspectives gave me the welcoming feeling of actually belonging there.
The following activities along the Okavango Delta were on the agenda:
Day 7: A full-day mokoro boat tour
Day 8: A one-hour plane ride
In the water on a mokoro boat
We were greeted by Titus and his mother, Balige, who were going to be our mokoro polers for the day. They prepared two boats for the four of us – both made from an authentic sausage tree. These days, mokoro boats are made from fibreglass to conserve the sausage tree.
As soon as we set off, I felt every muscle in my body slump into mush. Sitting low enough to be almost eye-to-eye with the water, it was the most relaxing tour I have ever been on. Titus told us stories and facts about the area as we slowly glided over the silky waters of the delta. The water is pure enough to drink and bathe in, which you’ll notice the locals do right next to their cattle.
A little further away, we spotted two hippos, one of whom warned us not to come closer by opening up his mouth wider than the Delta itself.
On the land in the bush
After about two hours we stopped on an island for a lunch break and Titus started to tell us the plan for the rest of the day. We were going to go on a bush walk, eat lunch, and then head back to camp. Simple enough. As soon as he finished talking, my mother-in-law (68), sprung up with energy and started heading off thinking we were going on the bush walk without him.
“FIRST, let me tell you the ‘Rules of the Bush’!”, Titus said quickly.
“Rule #1: Stay behind me! Rule #2: Listen to the sounds of nature. Rule #3: If you see a lion, do not run, walk slowly and with each step, move further away from him. Again, follow me, your guide.”
We did just that, but unfortunately didn’t have the pleasure of meeting up with a lion.
Up in the air getting a bird’s eye view
The following day we had a one-hour plane ride scheduled, so we were looking forward to yet another relaxing day.
The view from up in the Cessna was spectacular! The Okavango Delta is 15,000 km2, so we didn’t see the entire Delta, but a good part of it.
For the first half of the ride I wrestled with my camera equipment. I had a brand new objective attached to my Nikon – which was screwed onto a monopod. I can’t carry that monster without one and even with the help, I move in slow-mo. So, every time my husband or daughter yelled “elephant!” or “antelope!”, I hit the side of the plane trying to zoom in and still missed them in the end.
The second half was much better. Once I made peace with not trying to take photos, I just observed the beauty of the Delta and once again, sunk into relaxation mode.