Hi Everyone!!! I have been trying to download pictures to go with this story but the internet here is not as responsive as back home.  I could only download 2 photos.  Enjoy!

Okanvango Delta

But a few days ago we escaped in time and drifted through the long reeds of the Okavango Delta in a mokoro (dug out canoe). We bought our tour from Island Safari Lodge a very beautiful lodge set on an Island with monkeys, horses and a variety of birds, a little paradise of sorts. We relaxed here for a non travel day, recharged our batteries and booked a tour into the channels of the Delta.

Our journey to the Delta began with a motor boat ride to Buffalo fence. Buffalo Fence is a big fence built to separate the locals live stock from the wild animals. It`s a balance between the survival of wild life and local life. It is also our meeting point for our mokoro trip.

The drive to Buffalo Fence was beautiful with many differnnt bird species. With every bend the boat saw birds perched in a tree, in flight or standing in the reeds. Cobra our driver would slowed down so we could appreciate the beauty of these flying beauties. We spotted white swans, an open bill stork, copper tailed Pooka, African data and more. The beauty that surrounds Botswana is majestic and takes my breath away. Everywhere we go, I am captured by the sounds of birds creating a symphony of bird song.   Everywhere I look, I see vegetation of different shades of green, animals in the wild and so many different varieties of trees. I am Annie Bananie in wonderland.

Cobra`s boat ride to the Mokoro`s also gave us a glimpse of the local people fishing, washing their clothes by the edge of the river. As the boat passed we waved in aknowledgement. We were greeted with smiles and waves. The people of Botswana are a and friendly folk.

Traditional mokoro`s are dug out canoes but the Botswana government has banned the making of new ones in order to preserve trees. The mokoros are now made of fiberglass and painted brown. They are quite long measuring about 15 feet in length and about 2 feet deep with no seats just a flat bottom. Thamus our guide packed the boat so that our bags became our back rest. I sat in the front and Jay in the middle with Thamus (guide) standing up balancing the boat upright (think of standing in a canoe) propelling us forward with his long wooden pole. The experience was awe inspiring. Imagine sitting close to the water being propelled through corridors of papyrus, reeds and tall swamp grasses. Imagine lilie pads and white lilies dotted along the way. Imagine tranquility, serenity as the mokoro slowly makes it`s way through the crystal clear waters that is home to crocodiles (yikes), hippos (double yikes), fish, frogs and more. Before our tour we were instructed to relax and let the poller be the guide and to not panic if frogs or spiders fell into the boat. And that is exaclty what we did. We just sat back and took it all in.

This is Jay`s second time through the Delta. He came many moons ago and on that mokoro trip they came straight into a hippo pool. The hippo`s were not happy with the intrusion and with mouths gaping they started right for his mokoro. It was a near death experience and I am glad that he is alive to tell the story.

The Delta covers an area of 1600 km and is a paradise and a reminder of the importance of conservation. Wild life such as Zebras, elephants, lions, buffalo, anteloppe, bush bucks inhabit the land.

We arrived at our camp site and it was just maginificent. The trees on the site were like umbrella trees and gave great shade from the hard African sun. We set up camp, read had a snooze and went swimming at a nearby swimming hole. Our swim was more like a dip for we did not want to be lunch for any crocodile.

At 4pm we went back out into the mokoro and drifted to a nearby island for a game walk. We walked through tall grass and feilds, our first sighting was of 20 Peclicans wading in a nearby wather hole. Our walk continued for 3 km and the closest thing we came to seeing big animals were lion tracks and a buffalo skull. The sun was getting lower into the horizon and I knew we would soon have to head back. I kept my fingers crossed that we some animals would be seen. Just when I thought maybe we wouldn`t see anything Thamus says ``over there`and points off into the distance. Jay and I looked over and both had that look of ``over where!`` With more squinting of the eyes and direction from Thamus we saw movemt off in the distance. As we got closer the black and white stripes of a herd of Zebras became more apparent. We slowly walked closer and closer, they were so cute and kept looking at us while we looked at them. Suddenly we heard snorting sounds and to our right was a pack of wildbeast. Zebras and wildbeast like to roam together as the wildebeast have poor eyesight and zebras are their eyes.

It was so amazing to be in the wild standing in the same feild as these beautiful animals. After 15 minutes of watching them walking around and playing they got bored of us and gallopped away. The sound of hundreds of hooves hitting the ground at a high gallop was a big moment of wow. As they gallopped off into the sunset, Thamus says `` over there through the trees``. Again we struggled to see what he saw so clearly and lord and behold the grey skin of an elephant!!! It was a big mother of one to. He never came out from behind the trees so visibility was not that great. Nevetheless it was an honour to be watching him or her having a late afternoon snack.

We soon walked the 3 km to the mokoro and Thamus stayed alert to the sounds and movements around us and pointed out bush bucks, birds and I don`t even remember all of them. Thamus was an amazing feild guide and was akin to an animal in his awareness of his surroundings and his alertness to the workings of the jungle.

We barely made it back to camp before sun down. Sunset was magnificent. Supper that night was a baked potato, carrot, onion and garlic jumble in aluminum foil and baked in the fire. While our food cooked and darkness envelopped us we could hear a lion`s roar off in the distance, crickets, frogs and hyenas. The sounds were almost deafening. It was close to the dark moon so the sky glittered with stars, it`s brightness and vastness reminded me of how small I am in compared to the cosmos.

The next morning we went out for another game walk on the island we were camped on. We first walked to a hippo pool and spotted about 6 of them. They were hiding behind some reeds so they weren`t too visible but we could hear them moving in the water. Two popped right out of the water and seemed to be wrestling with their big mouths wide open. Thamus said one was being disciplined for being obstinate. A few minutes later two hippos made their way away from the pack and Thamus informed us that they were mating. I cannot express how wonderful it all felt. When we left the hippo pool we spotted the same zebras from yesterday who had moved onto our island over night to get away from the lion. We were able to walk about 40 feet away from them. There is something about standing so close to wild animals in their own habitat that touches me in a deep way. A part of me comes alive, like a connection to all that is.

After our game walk we mokored back to Buffalo Fence, got picked up by Cobra in his motor boat and went back to Island Safari Lodge.

We have since left Maun, and the Delta and driven 200 km west to Planet a Baobab a great little resort in the middle of nowhere. The drive here was amazing. When driving through Xai Pan Nationl park we saw ostrichs, a great big elephant munching on some grass. We stopped right in front of him and got really close. Later when we got to Baobab we learned that his name was one tooth and that he had been banished by his tribe for being too old. He has been known to go to a nearby resort and drink all of the pool water. He is known to be a grumpy old elephant. Later just at the edge of the park we saw a giraffe. It was so exciting to see wild life just on the side of the road like we might see a bear in Canada.

Next stop is a drive up to Chobe National park. Stay tuned....


Karie said...

Awesome Annie! Sounds so amazing. xxK

Roberta said...

Incredible adventure! It was so great to hear your voices today and you brought a huge smile to mom's face. Keep the great stories coming and stay safe.