An African safari


We are now in Botswana, I am in a light plane flying over the Okavango Delta, the biggest inland delta in Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s one of the main attractions in this part of Africa, bringing thousands of tourists from all over.

But something has changed. Instead of the lush growth of this massive wetland and its huge waterways, things have dried up; this drought has taken its toll. Our pilot looks at me and says ‘it’s bad.’ If you know any climate change deniers, bring them here to see for themselves. Not only is the government of Botswana concerned but adjoining governments are concerned too and they have formed the Southern African Committee to look into the matter. Here, they have made laws to stop people from building structures that would block the natural corridors that wild animals have used for centuries but they cannot make it rain.

Next day, we visit the Delta on the ground. As we arrive at the water’s edge at Mokoro Station, there is a buzz as tourists and locals vie for the right to show us this wonder.

We are each allocated a lightweight canoe and a pole man. Each canoe takes two people, but because of their lightweight construction, you cannot move around much and leave to your pole man to balance it.

The pole has a divided prong on the foot to grab the bottom and propel you along in these shallow waters. It’s a magic feeling gliding along on this clear, still water, with just a light breeze touching the reeds as you float by under a clear blue sky.

The waterway is big enough that you don’t feel like you are with lots of others; rather, it’s a free, open feeling and a very special experience.

There are lots of birds and animals. We saw elephants just on the shoreline and stopped off on an island and saw hippos in the water before re-joining our canoes to glide back to base.

Tonight, we are staying in a tented camp; it’s situated in an open, private game park, which means the animals roam free in and around your tent.

I am sitting out on the front deck of the tent writing this story when I become aware of another presence. Looking over my left shoulder, I see a rather large elephant standing about two metres from me; he moved so silently I did not hear him coming on the freshly raked sand. I decide to move inside the tent and even though there is only a thin sheet of canvas between us, it feels much safer and finally, he moves on.

Later, we are having sundowners on the outside deck of the dining area when out of the dark emerges a big bull elephant. He is huge, his ears are open wide and flapping as he approaches the deck (not a good sign). His trunk is sensing the railing and then the stairs next to where we are and we are all standing silently to see what will happen next. He swishes his trunk and then moves back into the darkness and there is a sigh of relief.

After dinner, I head back to my tent only to see two elephants standing at the entrance both trying to eat the same tree. I am advised to go back to the dining section and have another coffee; the elephants eventually leave and so do I, for bed.

Lying there in the dark you can hear the sounds of the night, more elephants outside and the grunting call of a lion in the distance; but eventually sleep comes in this world of wild things.

It’s early morning, it’s dark and it’s cold, but after a good breakfast we are off on a day’s game driving to the Moremi National Park and the early morning breeze is cold as we move along in our open-top 4x4s.

At Moremi, we see elephants together in family groups and large bulls striding by on their own.

Then, we sight a lion kill. Two lions have brought down a big buffalo and they have the carcass under a tree. Both lions have had their initial feast and are now resting in the shade, bellies full.

After taking photos we move onto other areas of the park but on our way back, we notice the lions and their kill has gone; maybe too many cameras.

Moremi hosts a vast number of wild animals and we saw quite a lot. The lions were the highlight of the game drive for today, but who knows what tomorrow might bring.

To be continued…

Until next time,

Safe Travel’n,

Geoff Vallance.