Archive for the ‘5. Botswana’ Category

June 9 – Okavango Delta

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Ribs, mokoro poler

Up at dawn this morning for a light breakfast and then a mokoro ride over to and a 3-1/2 hour game walk on Chief’s Island. Our mokoro poler and guide, Mr. Ribs, knows his stuff but it is a little disconcerting to be walking around a wild game area with a guide who has nothing more to protect us than a walking stick…

We saw red lechwe, impala, blue wildebeest, zebras, a whole troop of baboons, warthogs, a fish eagle, a whole bunch of marabou storks, a red-billed hornbill, a saddle-billed stork and a journey of giraffes. Walked forever down trails covered with elephant tracks and/or elephant dung looking for elephants and didn’t find any. (We saw them this afternoon from the deck instead!)




Marabou storks


elephant tracks



Saw lion tracks and a bush with lion hair on it, hyena poop and a buffalo skull but none of the live beasts. Ribs told us to stand our ground with lions, climb the nearest tree with buffalo and run a zigzag pattern downwind from an elephant. (Gulp…)

Gunn’s Camp is fun — basic amenities but that’s really what I wanted, to get some feel for the real Africa. It’s a little scary alone in a dark tent at night, or going into a toilet that has to have a half-door to keep the warthogs out, but it is headed in the direction of the Real Thing. And it’s a very good feeling to know that Fred is screaming distance away…

Went out by mokoro to a hippo pool this afternoon. It was excellent, not so much for the hippos (which are very dangerous to these boats so you don’t go very close!), but for the elephants! Two of them were in the marsh and crossed right about the same time we poled through. Unbelievable to be so close and in such a vulnerable position. It really brings it home what it means to be out there with wild game…

Good dinner and good talk with the South African group staying in the camp, and off tomorrow back to Maun.

June 8 – Okavango Delta

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

(written 6/9, 1:20 p.m.)

We’re sitting on the deck at Gunn’s Bush Camp on the Boro River in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, sipping sodas and watching elephants cross the marsh in the distance… Sigh… it’s a rough life.

Arriving in Maun

Arriving in Maun

Fred and I left Johannesburg for Botswana yesterday. No problem with the Air Botswana flight to Maun — the camera backpack (Lowepro Fastpack 250) fit easily in the overhead and nobody bothered to weigh anything. The Maun airport is very small with a single line for passport control and another for customs. We left our big bags in the Moremi Air office at the airport, and then George, the Air Moremi pilot, flew us on a single engine aircraft up to the Delta. I managed to get some video en route and particularly of the landing — George said it was a little hairy because of some warthogs on the runway!

[Note: Firefox 3 users may need this add-on to see YouTube videos.]

We were greeted by the Bush Camp operator, Craig, and immediately had a bit of confusion. He said we were there for two nights; I thought we were there for three. The paperwork is back in Maun with the rest of our luggage… Craig said he’d check it and later confirmed it was two nights. Not what I remember, but… that’ll teach me not to bring the paperwork.



We then were introduced to our mokoro poler (mokoro = singular, mekoro = plural, for what are now fiberglass canoe-type boats propelled by a single operator using a pole in the marshes of the Delta) who gave us a ride over to the camp by mokoro. We dropped our stuff off in our tents and went off for another mokoro ride before dinner. At dinner we socialized with a large group of South Africans on a safari of their own which appears to track our itinerary in large measure. After dinner we all sat around the fire talking, then watching a genet raid the kitchen and a scops owl fly in and out of the trees. Had a long discussion with Craig and his brother-in-law Jeremy, both Zimbabwean ex-pats, about the wisdom of staying in Zimbabwe (as opposed to Zambia) for the Victoria Falls part of our trip. We’re getting two very different views from blacks and whites. Blacks uniformly say not to stay in Zimbabwe, that it’s too dangerous; whites uniformly say we’ll be fine in the tourist areas because the regime has a great need for the hard dollars tourists bring in. Will have to discuss this with Grant…

Then one last trip to the “ablution block” (shower/toilet area) before bed. This is a funny set-up: open to the sky, reed half-doors (to keep the warthogs out), but plenty of hot water etc. I’m not sure what I was expecting but this is just fine. We were told to be make sure we used the facilities before we slept and to be very wary of leaving the tents after we retire (hippos may come up into the camp after dark)…

There were wild night noises — birds, frogs, crickets, hippos splashing up into camp and warthogs squealing very loudly (the camp operator, Craig, says they were either fighting each other or being attacked by a leopard!). Slept reasonably well despite being on a bed roll in a tent on a wooden platform some 18-24″ from the marsh. However, I won’t turn down Craig’s offer of a second mat to add to the bed roll.