An Elephant in front of my tent – Adventure Okavango Delta!

We started the next morning again quite early to allow us some time for crossing the border to Botsuana. First we had to exit namibia at the namibian border, drive 1 km to Botsuana border control – which was in fact a small tiny wooden house. We also had to disinfect the wheels of the jeep and our boots because of the foot and mouth desease. All in all it went really quick, the streets in Botsuana are kind of better however with very deep potholes so that our drive had to drive sometimes next to the “official” street but the approx 350km went quick and we arrived around 3pm at Maun Lodge That place felt after the two nights at the Tsumkwe Lodge like luxury life! We got some tissues to clean our hands and a welcome drink and we had WIFI!! And the accommoation was in a proper house, simple but clean. After refreshing and preparing for our trip into the Okavango Delta we all met for a drink at the nice bar. Dinners was served at 6pm in the open, a local band was playing nice music, the buffet looked really great, a campfire in the middle of the open restaurant space ….. it was really a great evening!! And first time that we were surrounded from black guests! A very positive change to Namibia if I am honest! This felt so much more like Africa …..

Some confusions on next morning in our group stopped initially my good mood …. when I walked towards the breakfast place Frederik walked already towards me and told me that everyone else had understood we would meet for breakfast an hour ago and that now everyone wants to make a city tour with the driver and I should meet them all in 30 minutes for a briefing. I was very surprised as I come down at the agreed time so not my fault. So I told him that they all could do what they want, I didnt want to see Maun city and I do expect them to pick me up at the hotel for our flight and that I would enjoy now my breakfast and take my time as well rather then getting rushed from them. It was the first time that I got really angry with Frederiks constant hurry and rush like he would miss anything out …. he wanted to meet a friend at the airport and didnt want to walk but again that´s not my problem!

In the end I stood with Kurt and Ann at the hotel, we enjoyed some drinks and chilled a bit and surprise surprise the rest of the group returned very quickly completely sweaty and annoyed from the city – too mayn people trying to sell you their products, very intrusive kids following you ….

At 12pm our flight departed from Maun airport to fly us into the Okavango Delta – very exciting!!! 20 min flight (you can see a movie in a separate blog post) and it was amazing to see the elephants from the distance!!

We landed right next to our camp accomodation for the next two nights – Oddballs Camp Right on the edge to Chief´s island are the tents and the open restaurant & bar space. Very warmly welcomed from the staff there we got some introductions first: We would go on game walks two times a day or on one walk per half days. Means we would start that afternoon for a first 1,5 hour excursion to Chief´s Island, next morning we would get up at 6am and start for a 3 hour walking excursion and then later in the afternoon have a 1,5 hour tour going on a Mokoro ride on the other side of the delta. The last tour would then be on the second morning where we would go for 1,5 hour walk again before we would fly back to Maun at 12pm. The outdoor showers are via a bucket which we will have to lift up and toilets are also outdoor. All meals would be provided in the main area, values can be stored in a black box with a locker in our tents, electricity charger are only in the main house. If we would see any animals in the camp we should go back to our tents and wait till they passed – all animals would walk through the camp, so better no night excursions and to bring the torch for dinner. We had to sign a document that we understood all the risk, that we are fit enough for all the walks and that we are there on our own risk! Well … I guess that was the first time that some of my group members thought about what they are doing there and risking … till that point it was all easy peasy, we in a car, quite from a distance to all the big animals ….

We also learned that “pula” means rain (btw the currency of Botsuana is Pula). As we arrived there at the end of the dry season the local people are waiting EVERY day for the rain! Water is really rare and therefore the animal esp the hippos are all coming to the last places with water. So every toast we would bring out in the next days we shoudl toast with “pula”!

After that the tents were allocated and guess what as the devil wanted I got my tent next to Frederik and Rita and I had to share the shower with them!! Unfortunately no other intact tent was available to I had to stay there and make the best out of it …

At 4pm we started on our first walk … we had to take the Mokoros to get on the Island for the walk and our guides were a bit nervous because of the hippos …. We learned a lot about footprints of the various animals and their traces. We also enjoyed the landscape and got some insect into plants and trees. So nothing really exciting happened. But it was a really nice change to walk instead of sitting in a jeep even though we thought that some wild animals could be hiding in the grass …

Dinner was served early as well and I tried out the outdoor shower, I wasnt that successful if I am honest and then got into my tent. Spiders were running in the corners so I moved the little bed more into the middle and tried not to thin about them, the torch in my hand …. At 6am I heard the staff walking through the camp to awake all people for te morning excursion. We got a muffin and a cup of tea or coffee and lot´s of water and off we went. In the first 1,5 – 2 hours we didnt see much. Some antilopes, kudu´s, warthogs ….. but then we came close to a herd of giraffes! I counted 15 giraffes … and we tried to come closer and closer so that we could also see the baby´s and little giraffes … that was really amazing and a very special moment!! Giraffes are so great animals and they would never attack anyone … on the way back we also saw and elephant walking slowly on his own …. approx 9:30am we had been back at the Camp and got some really great breakfast with lot´s of fruits, cereals, scrambled eggs …. and had then time to relax, read a book, watch the animals on the other side … a light lunch was provided at 2pm and at 4pm we met again for our next excursion. This time with the Mokoros on the Okavango river. Take a look at the photos, they are better then words:

As I had mentioned early in the morning when the main contact for guests at the camp asked me if I had an animal visiting me during the night that I had lot´s of big spiders in my tent and she had promised me to clean it … so I was wondering when I got into my tent that evening after dinner how it would go … well … I was a bit in shock as the cleaning maybe had brought out a very, very big ugly black spider sitting right in the top of the tent on the wooden bar, very active walking along the bar ….. the spray against insects was empty (probably all used to try to clean it in the morning) … as I didnt see any chance to get rid of the spider I tried to place the bed so that in case she would come down she would not land on me and on my bed! Finally I felt asleep …. till I was awakened by and very loud noise … there was tearing at the bushes and the tree just in front of my tent and it took me a moment to realize that there was something going on just outside my tent! I opened my eyes exactly at that moment when I also heard the roar of an elephant and I saw something big and dark through the tent window …

Now I was fully awake!! There was an elephant right in front of me, sniffeling on the balustrade of the tent terrace – literally 1 m away from me, waving his ears and roaring …… I was very happy that I hadn´t put my towel from the shower onto the balustrade and was thinking by myself what I would do if he decides to walk over the tent rather then next to it? I stood there fully silent, didnt move at all till he then decided after half an hour to walk further into the camp using the way besides my tent ….. phew!!! I then heard warthogs following the elephant and must have felt asleep after a while.

At 6am we got awakened again for our last tour. Half of our group didnt want to come, Rita had seen the elephant already at 1am and hadn´t slept at all, Ann was also a bit nervous however wanted to go on the walk. We started with our guides whom already had heard about the elephant at the camp. They knew that he was still there so we had to take an extra long walk to get to the Mokoros. However when we had walked around him he saw us and started walking towards us. I was second in the line right after our main guide and stopped walking when the elephant was nearly only 2-3m away from me, Ann behind my realised what was going on and got panic and was scared. She started running and stumbled. I tried to calm her down as they guides indicated to us that we need to keep going – slowly … so Ann took my hand and the guys were also a bit stressed. Finally we made it to the boats and got all in. When we arrived at the other side we thought we would be safe and could breeze a bit – to early too happy! There was – even worse – an elephants family with a baby!! So we had to turn three times till we got out of their way! Not enough …. as soon as we started walking through the grass our guide got the message via walky talky that a buffalo was running behind us! So he speeded up and we were also literally running in the heat for 30 minutes till we saw the buffalo on the other side reunited with his herd again. Fully exhausted we made it to the goal of our walk – the elephants graveyard, a place where all elephants are going when they sense that they would die soon.

What an adventure!!!

When we returned we had lot´s to tell the other ….. At 12pm it was time to say Goodbye to that beautiful place Okavango Delta! An elephant parade on Chiefs Island turned up to say goodbye as well ….

We all felt we had enough of adventure for now and also were hoping for some more civilization for our next accommodation ….. well: We wished! 🙂 That was not all adventure on that day. More was coming …… read my next blog post to see how the day came to an end!

Yours Ina T.

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