Written by Carolien du Plessis who enjoyed a mobile camping safari with Africa Geographic Travel’s ‘Delta Detox safari‘.
Our first taste of Botswana began with us enjoying the relaxing views of the Boro River channel in Maun, from a lovely lounge and bar area in Island Safari Lodge. This was our overnight stop before our exciting journey into the Okavango Delta the following morning.
Early the next morning we walked the few metres to the jetty and our guide, Philemon picked us up in his speed boat, for the three-and-a-half-hour cruise up the channel to our campsite in Moremi Game Reserve – the heart of the Delta. Everything was so exciting and like nothing we’d ever seen or experienced before!
When we arrived we were joyously surprised to see how everything was set up; even welcoming cold drinks were awaiting our arrival.
After a short debrief we set out for a walk on our own private island where our camp was situated. This island becomes separated from Chief’s Island when the annual flood arrives and waters in the delta rise. This was our home for the next three nights.
During our stay on the island, we had two guides, Philemon and BK, who looked after us and all our needs, pointing out the game on our walking safaris. A personal highlight was seeing a Pel’s fishing owl peering at us through the leaves!
BK was extremely knowledgeable and left no rock unturned in his mission to show us the area. He peppered our walks with interesting facts, sights and thoughts on things that we would otherwise have been oblivious to. We discovered that there really was so much more to the Delta than just the Big 5 and waterlilies.
One day Philemon took my son fishing (as a special request) and, incredibly, he caught a big sharptooth catfish – a moment he will never forget!
The visit to Philemon’s birthplace, Xaxaba Village, was most interesting and even allowed for some impromptu local craft shopping. Philemon is a kind and reserved person, and his face lit up every time he had to the opportunity to share his huge knowledge and talk about his childhood in this paradise.
He is a Bayei/Bushmen and his knowledge of local animals is extensive, and his embellishment with fascinating folkloric tales added so much to our appreciation of the Okavango Delta.
The biggest surprise of the whole trip was the food! Joe, our chef, ensured that our tummies were always full and we looked forward to every meal. His culinary skills were exceptional – we got freshly baked bread, and even desert, every day!
Our tents were comfortable and the bedding was clean and kept us quite warm – even though I was originally quite worried about leaving my thick duvet behind for cold Botswana nights!
Being unfamiliar with the bucket shower, I thought I would have only minutes to wash in lukewarm water – if I was lucky. But I was mistaken because I had enough time to get clean with nice warm water prepared by Lee, our camp hand. Even the ‘bush toilet’ with sand flushing system made it feel as “wild and genuine” as it gets!
Besides walking, we got around via mokoros (dugout canoes). I cannot fully describe how peaceful and special it was to watch the sunset while gliding along the tranquil waters of the Okavango in a mokoro. Absolute bliss.
After three incredible nights, we headed back to Maun with Philemon as we prepared for our next leg of our trip: Khwai.
The trip to Khwai may have been a long and bumpy drive, but with that said, I would do it again in a heartbeat!
We were based at Mogotho campsite, about 100 metres from the Khwai River. The abundance of wildlife was clearly evident the minute we arrived and it was lovely to think that the animals could all move freely between Okavango/Moremi, Khwai, Chobe, Linyanti and Savute.
From the word go we encountered countless numbers of elephant, hippo, crocodile, impala, lechwe, zebra, steenbok, black-backed jackal, mongoose, waterbuck, giraffe, kudu, and then, of course, the famous wild dogs that call this area home – including their pups! And to top it off we also spotted lions with their cubs, and the coveted prince of darkness, leopard.
We had the privilege of joining lions on a hunt, as they stalked prey under the cover of darkness. We feasted our eyes on a leopard consuming its kill over two days, and then witnessed a wild dog hunt as they chased an impala right through our campsite – while we were brushing our teeth! We crossed rivers where they were shallow enough and went on numerous night drives and walks – all of this made the whole experience brilliant and unique.
This combined walking and mobile game viewing safari is certainly very affordable for South Africans – and great value for money! We found that the overall experience and the willingness of Philemon and his hardworking and friendly team to ensure that this turned out to be a very special experience was both accomplished and made it all the more special and real. Nothing we asked for was ever too much trouble.
One of the biggest positives of this trip was the privacy it rendered and the exclusivity. Everything was tailor-made just for our small group of three. It was wonderful to work with Africa Geographic Travel and in so doing empower local people, such as Philemon, to uplift themselves and turn their good values, efforts and standards into a thriving business.
For anyone interested in an affordable, tailor-made tour to experience the Okavango and some of Botswana’s most iconic game reserves, please contact Africa Geographic Travel, we cannot recommend them highly enough.
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