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Sailing on a mokoro in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
BK and me in a mokoro in the Okavango Delta, Botswana© Carolien du Plessis

Our first taste of Botswana began with us enjoying the relaxing views of the Boro River channel in Maun, as we overnighted in town the night before our exciting safari adventure. Written by Carolien du Plessis,  who enjoyed our Delta Detox safari‘.

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 Okavango Delta. Everything was so exciting and like nothing we’d ever seen or experienced before!

View of the Okavango Delta from the water © Carolien du Plessis

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 safari 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!

Pel's fishing owl peering down from a tree
Pel’s fishing owl peering down from a tree © Carolien du Plessis

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.

Three elephants make their way through the waters of the Okavango Delta in Botswana © Carolien du Plessis

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! Of course, he released the fish afterwards as we did not need the extra protein.

Fish eagle flying © Christian Boix

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 the opportunity to share his huge knowledge and talk about his childhood in this paradise.

Xaxaba Village in Okavango Delta, Botswana © Carolien du Plessis

He is a Bayei Bushman 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.

Xaxaba Village with goods for sale
Xaxaba Village with goods for sale © Carolien du Plessis

The biggest surprise of the whole safari 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 dessert, 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 winter nights!

A tent set up at camp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana © Carolien du Plessis

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 a sand flushing system made it feel as “wild and genuine” as it gets!

Tent at sunset © Carolien du Plessis

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.

The sunset over the Okavango Delta © Carolien du Plessis

After three incredible nights, we headed back to Maun with Philemon as we prepared for the next leg of our safari: 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!

Birdlife in the Okavango Delta
© Christian Boix

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.

Lions relaxing in the Okavango Delta © Carolien du Plessis

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.

A young wild dog pup in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
A young wild dog pup in the Okavango Delta, Botswana © Carolien du Plessis

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 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.

A leopard with its prey in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
A leopard with its prey in the Okavango Delta, Botswana © Carolien du Plessis

This combined walking and mobile game viewing safari is certainly very affordable – and great value for money! The overall experience was made even better by Philemon and his hardworking and friendly team – nothing we asked for was ever too much trouble.

Camp food prepared for hungry guests © Christian Boix

One of the biggest positives of this trip was the privacy and exclusivity – which usually come at a much higher price tag! Everything was tailor-made just for our small group of three. It was wonderful to work with Africa Geographic 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.

Guide and guest talk about all things Okavango © Carolien du Plessis

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 – we cannot recommend them highly enough.

The family and guides pose for a photo in the Okavango Delta © Carolien du Plessis

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