Maun, Botswana –
The morning of the 23rd we packed up and headed for the Botswanan border; we were on our way to the Okavango Delta. Once in Botswana we drove all day across the northern tip of the Kalahari Desert (spotting ostrich running away from the truck along the way) before pulling over and setting up camp in the middle of no where. Shortly before diner I pulled the gin bottle out of our mobile bar on the truck and had a gin (or two) while watching the spectacular African sunset. [Bugs everywhere that night – loads of flying beetles]
We were on the road again the morning of the 24th, on our way to Maun where we’d stay before going out on the Delta. Drove most of the day, which gets old after a while. The truck rattles around so much that writing is completely out of the question, reading takes major effort because you’ve got to follow the page jump around in your hand, so there’s nothing else to do but sit there. We were so bored on the may to Maun that I started mixing gin and tonics at 11:00 a.m. – it was well needed.
Hit Maun and headed to the Island Safari Lodge, from where we’d be taken to the Delta the following day. This campground and also had a bunch of private rooms so there was a swimming pool, a snack shop and a bar – we headed to the bar for a few drinks before heading off to bed. I don’t know what was going on with the weather, but at about 2:00 a.m. this windstorm came up and both Rich and I honestly believed the tent was going to either blow away or just collapse onto us. The winds were nothing like I’d experienced – if you’re ever been in one of the wind storms in Scotland you’re not too far off. The winds were so strong – they must have been going majorly fast. Rich says they were not hurricane force.
Went back to sleep with the wind howling away, only to be awakened a few hours later by the rising sun. We got up and got ready for the Delta. We were going out for three days ad two nights to be punted in a makoro through the vast Delta’s waterways. The makoro is sort of like a Malawian dugout, only they’re really deep and when you’re sitting in them the water is only 3-4 inches below the level of the boat. We were picked up by a ranger from the Delta who drove us thirty minutes through the Botswanan desert over to the delta’s edge where we met yet another park ranger in a speedboat, ready to take us farther in. We jumped in his speedboat and went for a thrilling thirty minute ride through the tall reeds to a village on one of the delta’s islands. These rangers know what they’re doing when they’re flying through the one lane water channel, turning the boat so it rides up on the reeds when a sharp turn is ahead. The boat ride was like an amusement park ride – it was that cool.
Once we arrived at the locals’ village we were transferred in pairs to the makoro boats to go even deeper into the Delta. It was so peaceful gliding through the reeds while lying in the bottom of this boat with my head at the level of the water. It took us a few hours to get to our campsite and by this time we were all ready to get out of the sun – it was so hot that day. We setup camp ad made dinner then sat around looking at the sunset.
Sunsets in Africa are like nothing I’ve ever seen. There’s no pollution when you’re out in the bush, so the colors of the sky are so much more brilliant. We sat and watched the colors blend in the sky and once the sun was gone we would turn around and face the field behind the tents, for there weren’t any obstructions, allowing us to have a clear view of the velvet tapestry of stars that came out every night. Sans moonlight the stars were incredibly bright and the sky did look as though the stars were just sewn onto a piece of black velvet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the stars so clearly. (This was better viewing than in Malawi.)
When the sun went down all the small frogs living in the reeds started to croak. It’s not actually a croak – it’s the peaceful sound that’s similar to the sound that bamboo wind chimes make when they lightly bang together. It was really relaxing sitting there listening to the frogs while looking up at the sky. Alas, we finally went to bed for we were going to look for elephants the next day.
NOTE: From this point forward the dates and locations of the section headers now correspond with the actual events.