I’ve never in my 29 years thought i could love a place like i do the Okavango Delta. I’ve been to so many places through out my life, East to West. Asia, Middle East, Europe, North Africa, North America… and finally East-South Africa.
The whole trip was unexpected, we were supposed to b in Europe at the time. I was in Barcelona when my grandfather died and we had to go back home “the UAE”. A few weeks after my grampa’s death, my uncle called me and he was like; “Hey Mona, wanna go to Africa?” i said “yeah sure, but where in Africa?”. He said ” Zambia”.. I said “OK, Great, who’s going?” . He said ” my wife and kids, u and ur sister and ur cousins A & R”. I was like “Wow that’s a nice group!!”..
So, He sent us the Visa papers to fill and we were surprised that we had to apply to Visas of TWO countries. Zambia & Botswana. Honestly, before that day i’ve never heard of either!
A week later we went to the Victoria Falls in Zambia.. Amazing place.. stayed at the Royal Livingstones Hotel for two nights and from there we went to Botswana. We moved from one airport to the other and then back and so on. It was one hell of a day. By the afternoon we were truly exhausted, hungry and HOT! We were starting to hate the whole trip. We reached Maun, which is just by the Okavango Delta. a small town. We were told that we still got about an hour before we had to b on the plane to the Okavango. So we left the airport building looking for a place to sit and have lunch. We found a restaurant just opposite the airport and decided we’re not going to look any further. Sat at our tables, checked the menus, ordered. While the meals were being prepared.. we walked around a little and found a small souviner shop. Got some T-shirts with Botswana written on them, some small gifts for our families and frnds back home.. then went back to have our lunch. I had a grilled half chicken with fries, the BEST FRIES I’VE EVER TRIED!! yeah am a fries expert hehe..
After a quick lunch, we went back to the airport, where we were welcomed by our designated pilot. He told us that we need to leave our luggage at our plane and take enough clothes for two days because the plane we’re going to get on can’t carry much weight. We had BIG bags with us! we didnt know what to carry with us hehe yeah might sound stupid but it was a lesson we learned the hard way ” with the eyes of all of the ppl in the airport on us :P”
Then we were led by our pilot to the plane, a small plane. He said that he’s gonna take us on a little tour on the Delta before taking us to the campsite. We had no idea what he was talking about! it was TOO HOT we couldn’t ask! But by the time the plane was in air, things got better. It got a bit cooler, the view was STUNNING. Elephants, Buffallos, Giraffes…etc were everywhere beneath us. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. It was all green and blue beneath us and for as far as we could see in the horizon. We were literally in shock, talking all together or just staring. We kept looking for a hotel, a building, an airport!! But nothing was there. All of a sudden we saw a long line of sand, and the pilot pointed out saying that we’re gonna land there. That the hotel is just next to the dirt runway! I mean i’ve seen many movies of Africa, programs and TV series, But i never thought i’d be experiencing the exact same thing.
We landed and a group of people were waiting for us down there. A South African man, a Spanish lady and a group of Batswanas. When we got off the plane, the lady started welcoming us and saying that the guy over there “she pointed at one of the Batswanas” is gonna carry our luggage if we had any.. of course we hadn’t!! i had my camera bag on my back and a small bag in my hand and the same was with everybody else..!! When we told her that we got nothing. She asked us to follow her. We did, still speechless. We were in the middle of no where.. our phones weren’t working “which was a big shock to all of us, cuz we had to call our families and my uncle had a lot of business to attend to, but thank God he had a satellite phone”. We reached an area covered by a small umbrella made of reeds. and she was like, Hey my name’s Esperanza, welcome to Gunn’s camp . This is the reseption. We were SHOCKED! looking at each other with fear in our eyes.. and when she saw that we were scared, she laughed and said ” dont worry, u’re in good hands, come on let me show u your rooms” We followed.. First she took us to my uncle’s TENT! OMG the feeling we had then! aaaaaah one i’d never forget ! She took us all to our tents and told us that she’s gonna wait for us to get washed up so she could take us to the Lobby! hehe.. I was too anxious to stay still, so i just used the toilette and got out to meet her. She was waiting for us.. While waiting for the others to join us, she showed us a small dent in the mud.. and she was like, hey am gonna tell u a secret. I was so excited lol like a 5 yrs old! she said, u see this? i said yeah.. she said that it’s a sign that an elephant was here not long ago! it was RIGHT next to my uncle’s tent!!!
When everyone gathered, she took us across the river to a big building made of bamboo and reeds and stuff :P.. showed us the area where we’re gonna have our meals at. then took us to the upper floor . THE BEST PLACE I’VE EVER BEEN TO! it was open .. birds were flying in and out. and the view! the whole delta was just in front of us.. water, lillies, trees as far as we can see.. she showed us the fridge and asked us to help ourselves to water and softdrinks, Which we DID! lol.. then took us to the ground floor and offered a yummy chocolate cake to us all with coffee.. And told us that Prince Harry was here just last week, bush camping with his friend! Imagine how excited we were hehe.. and told us stories about animals around us which made my sister an cousin freak out hehehe, while i was taking pictures of all of them! LOL She told us that there was a dead elephant not very far away from us and that we might hear an angry lion .. Cuz many ppl were checking the dead elephant and it’s the lion’s territory. What a great story on our first hour LOL.. She’s been there for about 8 months and she was loving it..
Then they took us on Mokorro rides before sunset. We saw the dead elephant, we saw some zebras and impallas.. termites were everywhere! it was weird !! I was gonna stick my hand in the river when the guide i had was like, NO no no! we dont want such a beautiful girl going home without a hand! i looked at him and was like WHAT!! WHY! he said the river is full of crocodiles.. u dont wanna stir them! lol i was like, yeah !!! He was the sweetest guy ever.. I called him Papa Ben! I had a whole Mokorro for myself since i was the odd number out.. it was amazing.. so calming.. so peaceful.. We toured around for about an hour and then we had to go back cuz it was becoming dark and it’s dangerous to stay in the river at night .. lol wont i love to try that!!
We were told that we had an hour or so before dinner.. We can do whatever we wish during that time. I got my ipod out, my camera and started shooting.. Yes i was excited! My uncle came and he was like, hey the phones still dont work! but come call ur families using the satellite fone and tell them u’re fine.. We did so, and just as the last one of us called her mother, the phone stopped working hehehe we thought it was a temporary thing but it wasn’t the phone wont work!!! to him it was a disaster.. but to us it was a relief.. because that made him sit and talk and laugh with us! which is something he rarely does cuz he has no time for that!! Then we were asked to have dinner.. which was a candle lit dinner, in an open area!!! we heard the sounds of nature all around us…! Lions, Hippos, elephants plus bugs! It was the most exhilirating feeling Ever! so relaxing in a very weird sense..
after dinner we went to sit in the sitting area.. which is the one we went to at the beginning…. the place with the view.. well everywhere there is an amazing view lol we sat there for about a couple of hours, we met our Italian friends… the only ones who were at the camp besides us.. they were a family of 3.. a father, mother and a son. of course only the father spoke English.. and he was funny!!! I’m sure we woke up some animals that night lol
at about 9 pm we were escorted by Esperanza to our rooms, and she asked us if we wanted her to wake us up in the morning.. we said yeah sure.. she said ok cuz breakfast’s served at 7.. and off she went.. We were told not to make any sound or leave the tent at night because animals would b around.. and any sound might trigger them.. so we lay still after switching the lights off.. my cousin was so scared she kept dreaming of Hyenas walking next to the window lol i lay awake till about 3 am.. at about 2 something weird happened.. it became pitch dark and i heard a sound like it was raining and then it turned from a nice cool-warm weather to FREEZING in an instant! that’s when i was able to get some sleep.. at about 5:30 am we woke up again.. it was still kinda dark.. but the sky was full of stars.. something we rarely see at home or almost anywhere else.. it was so amazingly clear..! We got up.. and we started communicating thru air, all of us.. 5 tents hehe.. hey u guys r ok? and stuff.. then we got to shower in FREEEEEEZING water hahaha i remember how we shouted looool that was one of the best feelings!! Then at about 6 am Esperanza came and she was like OMG u guys r already awake.. and we said yeah and READY! looool then we head to the dining area.. for a yummy breakfast of freshly baked bread, freshly squeezed orange juice, water from the river, fried eggs made in different shapes “hearts and stars”.. all made by the Batswana woman “Grace” and she was full of grace! After breakfast we went for a mokorro ride in the delta.. two of my cousins were sharing one mokorro and i was alone.. we were the ones at the end of the whole group.. My cousin got pissed at them and wanted to b at the lead lol so our guides took us to a secret place.. thru the lillies and other plants into a small clear area with lilllllies all over the place.. big nice fully grown ones! it was really amazing i couldn’t take any pics.. i just wanted to take it all in.. it was like Heaven! They got a couplf of lillies and made a necklace for my cousin to cheer her up.. and collected some more and gave her as gifts..
Then we followed the group.. to a land.. where we were told that we’re gonna go on a walking safari.. but before we went, they gave us some instructions on how to deal with animals if we saw any nearby.. If we saw a lion, we had to stay still and look’em in the eye.. LOL Yeah right!!! they told us not to run lol
if we saw a buffallo we had to run to the nearest tree and jump on it..! if we saw an elephant we had to run opposite the wind lol it was a still day!!! how could we know which way the air is going! LOL but they promised us that they wont leave us alone.. lol We walked and walked and walked.. and honestly it wasn’t a good walk.. it was too hot by then… and there were no animals .. for a while.. then we saw a single elephant very far away.. we were told that he’s angry.. that’s why he’s standing still.. or was it a she? I dont remember really.. we waited for a while but it didnt move.. so we went back.. but using a different path.. we found bones of a buffallo.. took some photos and then went back to our Mokorros.. got back on them and back to the camp.. where we were given a break till lunch time.. we sat there.. just watching the place.. chatting.. enjoying the peace.. listening to some music.. taking pics and stuff..
After lunch some of us went to have some rest.. the rest of us just stayed there.. to enjoy the place.. till at about 4 or 5.. when we got on the speedboat.. we took a tour around.. the boat stopped working several times which was fun lol then we reached this big lake.. called the Hippos pool or something.. it was supposed to b full of Hippos.. but we saw a few.. just for seconds when they come up for air or whatever.. then they just disappear in the lake again.. we waited for a while but only saw a couple of Hippos.. it was really frustrating lol then we went on a tour around.. saw a few elephants.. and then they took us near the land.. we asked them why? and they laughed at us and said hey we make Peeepeee lol we laughed so bad lol but we found out that they were getting us some grapefruits..! the best!!! damn, they tasted like the best fruit ever at the time lol and then we went back to the camp.. on the way we saw a group of Giraffes far away..and some impallas.. and we passed by another camp with a nice deck! right on the water..
After that we stayed at the camp.. we saw Grace on a mokorro collecting something from the river.. but we didnt know.. we were told that she’s doing something special for us!!! At dinner, we found out that the men have done some fishing at the river and that we’re gonna have the fish for dinner! and we found out that Grace has decorated our dining area specially for us.. with Lillies she got from the Delta! that was the sweeeeeeeetest gesture ever.. After having a very nice, full of laughter dinner.. we went to the sitting area.. for a chat and lots of laughing b4 heading back to the tents to sleep.. we were supposed to leave the next morning..
Again, that night.. the same thing happened.. I didnt sleep as usual.. I just didnt want to waste any time at all.. i was so afraid that i’d miss something.. at about midnight.. i heard some bubbles outside the tent.. and then i heard some heavy foot steps!! on our porch!! it could’ve been a hippo! Then it just left.. I dont know where.. but it was back to “too” quiet.. Till at about 2 or 3 am.. again it became pitch dark.. this time i was staring out of the window.. and i heard the same sound but NO RAIN! nothing! weird sound! and then the light of the moon was back.. and it was freezing! I have no idea what happens at the time.. But it was somehow relaxing.. for the first time in my life i felt at ease and safe! even if i was surrounded by animals lol dangerous ones!
Again we were awake before Esperanza was there.. and ready! We went to the dining area.. and while we were waiting for breakfast to b served.. we heard a weird sound of something falling into water Heavily.. TOSH TOSH … TOSH TOSH.. TOSH TOSH.. we looked around and saw the best scene i’ve seen in my whole trip! two hippos crossing the delta! in very graceful moves! Then we heard my uncle calling us to check the other side.. and We saw a herd of Giraffes walking far away.. it was a wonderful scene.. the sun was rising at the time.. I wished i could stay there forever and never leave..
After breakfast we had to say our goodbyes but they wont leave us.. till the plane has arrived.. we were all waiting at the runway.. with a group of bush campers.. waiting for our rides.. when our plane landed.. the ppl who were on it got down, Esperanza came to me and whispered, “mona” .. i was like “yeah?” .. she said “Do u think i’ll ever have fun with any1 as much as i had fun with u guys?” i laughed and said “What?? come on!!” she said ” i swear, i never laughed as much as i did with u guys! u’re here to have fun and enjoy ur time” .. it was a good feeling.. being thought of as FUN!
We said our goodbyes and got on the plane to go to Chobe, where we stayed one night and then we went back home..
that was a trip I’ll never forget.. thanks to everybody! my uncle and his family, my sisters, my cousins, and most importantly the ppl of Gunn’s camp.. Dont i wish i could go back and live there! Batsawans have no idea how lucky they r..