“The weather the past few weeks have been incredibly hot and dry, therefore multiples of fires had risen over the Delta. On multiples of places during our hike we had to step over broken branches, piles of ashes and for every step we took over the savannah it sounded more like crossing a corn flakes covered kitchen floor. However there was a change in the sky; dark clouds was about to cover it but the sun still managed to shine through which created a landscape covered in gold. At the end of the tour the clouds were so many and so dark […] and in the distance we could see lightning and thunder. It started to rain.” – transcript from my journal, April 2nd 2015
It sure did start to rain that evening, and it didn’t stop until we left the Okavango Delta. I guess you wonder if the excursion was spoilt due to the 48 hour constant downfall, but I can assure you it wasn’t. Where there is red wine and cheese, beautiful landscapes and exotic animals one doesn’t care about the weather at all (well, as long as your tent stays dry your fine).
Beginning of April just a few day before my 21st birthday, the ATC truck I was traveling on stopped by the shore of Okavango Delta. Together with our cook Henri (one of the most talented, funniest and lovable people I’ve ever met), we paired up two and two to comfortably lay down in a mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe used in the Delta) and a local poler would take us down the stream. The stream was incredibly shallow (0.1-0.5 meters) due to the lack of rainfall, but that meant we wouldn’t accidentally hit a hippo. Besides, thousands of purple and white waterlilies was visible and not cover by the water’s surface. It took us about 1.5 hours to get to the campground where we put up our tents and opened the first bag-in-box of red wine.
However later that afternoon we split into smaller groups (about five or six people) and one or two guides took us out on our first hike in the Delta. As described in my journal, fires had burned most of the low vegetation to the ground but I think this just made the landscape even more unique and beautiful. Our guides told us about the special fauna and helped us spot animals such as baboons, termites as well a pool with a hippo (who waged its ears and snorted once we got close). Walking out there completely in the wild, all quiet and feeling a bit vulnerable, is very powerful thing and I’ll never forget the feeling.
The next day it was of course raining and the majority of the group stayed in their sleeping bags or crawled up under the tarp listening to Henri talking about the history of Africa. Although, some of us decided to head out to track animals. Dressed in our rain coats (trading between group members started, since only jackets of a natural colour is permitted on the savannah – aka. no orange, bright yellow or pink shades) and waterproof hiking boots, we hit the trail with a few guides. Today we were fortunate to spot a herd of zebras, a running group of giraffes (this was an experience since none of us would have guessed these long-legged animals would “float” so graciously) as well an elephant munching on some bushes. How far and where exactly we walked I couldn’t say and I’m still impressed how the local guides navigated us through the Delta without any definite landmarks or a compass.
More pictures from the Okavango Delta, early April 2015: