When people tell you about a beautiful place, they tend to picture it with all the colors of the rainbow, creating an image in your head that seems almost too good to be true. The real thing can't possibly live up to it. Once you actually go see it for yourself, you end up disappointed...
...Not true for the Okavango Delta, guys!
This beautiful place on earth actually lives up to the expectations. Hell, we are convinced: The Delta exceeds all of them!
For the last week we have been sleeping out in three absolutely stunning locations: The Khwai Community Trust, the Moremi and Shinde private concession. Let us tell you all about it...
With two 4WDs, we headed out from Maun with Welna & Johan to the Khwai Community Trust - an absolutely stunning piece of land where we lived on the wild side of life for three nights. Our campsite had no ablutions; every meal was cooked over the open fire; to wash ourselves, we relied on a tiny outdoor shower set up in a remote spot with only some curious monkeys to watch us.
The river Khwai flows gently through the lush landscape, hippos call every few minutes and show their gigantic teeth from the water while elephants graze on the banks and leopards stalk through the thick bushes. Every night we heard the lions calling and we even found them peacefully snoozing in the shade of some Feverberrys one sunny afternoon!
For Gesa a big wish came true. Ever since this German-born has started her safari-guide-training in Southern Africa it was her dream to see wild dogs. She had to wait for over a year, but one early morning in the Okavango Delta, it finally happened: Frank had heard from a friend that the wild dogs were said to have a den close-by. Not expecting too much, we headed out to look for them and we couldn't believe our luck when we saw one of the dogs lying next to the road.
What happened next though exceeds all expectations Gesa ever had: Under some Mopane trees we found -believe it or not - 11 (!!) healthy and incredibly cute and playful wild dog puppies chasing each other and exploring the surroundings of their den. Frank switched off the engine and we quietly watched them as they came closer and closer to our car to satisfy their curiosity... what a special first sighting it was! It will stay with us for a very long time.
As we said goodbye to the wild dogs as well as Welna and Johan who headed East to explore the Madgadikadi pans, we drove further on into the Moremi Game Reserve where we spend two nights. Frank knows the area quite well, having been here last year doing mobile safaris.
On our second night we sat up camp on a site right next to the water and put some steaks on the braai before we climbed up into the nest for the night. We don't know if it was the smell of the meat or maybe just sheer curiosity, but when we got up the next morning we found fresh leopard tracks on top of our own from the evening before - the cat was wandering around our car and marking its territory on our front wheel... If only he had shown his presence during the night with a little growl - we would have loved to have a peek at him... AND Gesa would probably have resisted the urge to use the bathroom after dark!
To put a fitting finish to this stretch of the trip, we left our faithful companion - our ride - behind at the Khwai airstrip and got onto a plane to the Shinde concession - an area that lies right in the middle of the Delta and is not accessible by car. Already during our landing approach did we discover that a truly special place awaits us. Beneath us lay an endless grass plain full of tsessebes, giraffes and zebras.
"This is it," said Frank as we got out of the plane and jumped onto a game viewer to our camp. As we travel through this beautiful and diverse country, we look for truly wild spots, remote settings and unspoiled Nature - and we both immediately felt that there is something very special to Shinde. Needless to say we were very excited that we got to go on a bush walk the next morning, looking for "the beasts" - three male lions that roam this area and that we had seen during our drive to camp. We didn't find the beasts, but oh! how we enjoyed exploring the beauty of Shinde on foot nonetheless!
So, in a nutshell:
We absolutely loved the Okavango Delta! And we will come back again... and again... and again...
The next stretch of road will lead us to Chobe - stay tuned as we dive into the National Park that is said to have the largest concentrations of game in all of Botswana!