Botswana is a genuine African success story, dear reader. It’s a big, dry country that sits astride the Kalahari desert; the biggest continuous area of sand in the world. This country of less than two million people is home to a stable democracy, abundant resources and the breathtaking natural scenery of the Okavango Delta, without a doubt one of the most sublime places on Earth. As we continue the adventures from the previous journal, Botswana features as the next destination on our great African safari. The Chameleon tours team crossed the border from Namibia in the safari truck to be greeted at an extremely remote and desolate border by laid back customs officials, who chatted amiably while all our team’s paperwork was completed.
We climbed back aboard as the safari guide Chico drove us into Botswana along a remote and sandy track for several hours, before reaching our campsite that can only be described as akin to arriving in heaven. Guma Lagoon camp was our new home for the next three days, and we gleefully pitched our tents at this pristine campsite on the Okavango Delta, which is the world’s largest inland delta. Botswana is the home of Southern Africa’s first gold rush, and has grown to be the largest producer of diamonds in Africa. Yet the real jewel in the crown of this beautiful country is the Okavango Delta, one of the most sublime travel destinations I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. The views over the water from our campsite and while taking boat rides was a photographer’s dream, and capturing the sunrise and sunsets on the Delta can transform anyone with a camera into a good photographer, by taking advantage of the breathtaking scenery as a backdrop.
The amazing safari offered yet another dimension when we were taken by speedboat for an hour up the mouth of the Delta, where we were greeted by Botswana guides who paddled us along the lily covered waterways in their mokoros (dug out canoes) to our island camp destination. The guides effortlessly push the mokoros through the reeds and water lilies with a long pole while displaying superb balance, and we sat back, relaxed and took in the beautiful scenery. How good was this experience? One of the best, my friends, and an experience I will always cherish. We then went about setting up our tents on our very own deserted island in the Okavango Delta, and were surprised to learn from our guides that there is a large variety of wildlife on the Delta including elephants, big cats, hippos and crocs of course, and plenty of prey animals. The Okavango Delta really has plenty to offer in terms of scenery and wildlife.
The guides took us out on mokoros to view some hippos resting in the water nearby, making for more unforgettable experiences. Hippos dive deep for extended periods, but these boomers definitely came up to check us out, grunting away while flapping the little ears atop their huge heads. It was an exhilarating experience, but we were sure to stay a safe distance from these mighty animals, who are coincidentally the greatest killer of humans in Africa. A few of us had a try on the mokoros in the morning, I found that navigating is doable while standing up to push the dug out canoes with a long pole, but it’s a real test of balance and coordination. However, our guides effortlessly point their mokoros as we glided along the water in single file.
We were taken on a trek around the island on foot with our Botswana guides constantly on the lookout for danger. During the trek our guide pointed out to us recent leopard tracks on the island. This was an exciting discovery, but as close as we came to spotting the most elusive of the Big Five on our African safari. We also spotted several monkeys in the trees, warthogs, and beautiful birds flying around their island home. By this stage of the safari all the participants were starting to form a special bond. It was clear that everyone had an equal passion for Africa and her wildlife, and we would burst out of our tents every morning with a spring in our steps, and ready to do what was required to help our extraordinary guide Chico. He was a prodigious one man operation, driving hundreds of kilometres per day while spotting animals, and then unloading the truck to pitch tents, cook meals, and do whatever else was needed to keep us happy safari adventurers. So it became an unspoken rule in our team that we chipped in to help in any way we could. The safari was turning out to be a terrific life experience.
I’m gushing with enthusiasm as I post this Botswana journal; because the country is blessed with a stable democracy, and is generating a high standard of living from abundant resources. The locals are a friendly and relaxed people, and it includes the majesty of the Kalahari Desert and the unforgettable Okavango Delta. Where else can you ride in a mokoro and have your guide fashion a necklace with his knife from the stem of a freshly picked water lily? Thanks Chico! Botswana is a heavenly natural paradise where, basically all of you should be here now!
A man content to go to heaven alone will never go to heaven.” Boethius
As I continue my travels, until next time it’s signing off for now
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