The Okavango Delta


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Big Boys of Botswana

Written on: February 13, 2015   |   I visited in December 2014 I had the luxury of five nights in Botswana in December and discovered who the big boys of this country really are! I also smashed a lot of my own safari misconceptions...

First stop, Kalahari Plains Camp and the endless desert that I thought may not be that exciting for a safari old hat like me. Misconception number one... of many to come. It's true that you won't see masses of wildlife at all times of the year. We were there before rains had come meaning wildlife was really spread out. When the rains come, the plains in front of this camp TEEM with wildlife... so for us it was more of a challenge but boy were we rewarded. From the denning cape foxes in front of camp to the thousands of red-billed quelea swarming and shifting across the plains to the elusive yet very vocal Kalahari lions... this place rocked and I have a new found appreciation for desert landscape and the smaller species. Oryx are truly the big boys in town here, their large herds and dominant males strutting around were enough to impress the most experienced safari-goer. My favourite experience here was a wheel blow out and being 'stuck' in 35 degree desert heat just watching the plains horizon and the wildlife appear through the heat haze and disappear again. Then a surprise bush lunch - well deserved after that I can tell you... and we literally dined under beautiful trees alongside a few wildebeest and oryx escaping the heat. They were literally a few metres from my buffet lunch table! So my top tip for Kalahari - go in green season, so January through to around March I think for big hitting wildlife, afternoon storms and those endless plains alive with animals.

Big Boys of Botswana's Okavango Delta greeted us next the moment we tried to land. It's not the elephants or lions - that was my misconception too for many years. It is the buffalo. These animals mean business, they don't muck about as solo grazers unless they are old males and instead stay in herds, usually quite impressive numbers and move like a football pack through the bush. As luck would have it, they were crossing the landing strip as we were approaching. A few fly bys and we eventually moved the big boys on and landed. The herd stared us down as if angry at the intrusion. It wasn't the first time they would demonstrate their discontent with us. The next few days were action packed at Duba Plains as we watched for the well documented lion versus buffalo confrontation.

From here, we flew up to the Selinda region and had our last few nights in two luxury camps, Selinda Camp and the outstandingly memorable and 'take me back tomorrow' Zarafa. Up here, the big boys are led by the ladies... wild dog. Another of my misconceptions busted... for this region is famous for its huge elephant herds... they are literally 'big' but it is the wild dog that dominate the safari scene right now. This species believe in Alpha females (hooray) and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to watch them rest, play, hunt, catch and kill multiple times over. The kill is not a pretty event to witness, but it's over in an instant as they literally rip the animal to pieces leaving nothing behind. But the hunt is the most adrenaline rush wildlife experience I have ever had. Their pack precision and ambush tactics are outstanding to watch all whilst in a 4x4 that is open-sided and belting through the bush at break neck speed.

Our last night at Zarafa was unforgettable, and not just for the luxury and beautiful setting. Whilst sitting on our private deck with feet in plunge pool and gin and tonic in hand, we saw a young impala bolt past within metres of us. Unusual to be alone and running so fast. We wondered what it was running from. It wasn't long before we saw the familiar markings of wild dog sprint right up to us, pause for moments arms length away and then continue the hunt. Our hearts raced as fast as the wild dogs could hunt. They then double backed to look at us and one even came running down the path towards us. Did we become the prey? Has wild dog ever eaten a human before? Not that we know of... it was merely responding to the sounds of broken twigs under our feet as we were sprinting to get our camera.

So what did I take from my Botswana experience? The big boys of any safari are not always your usual suspects. Go into every safari experience with open mind, no expectations and you shall be rewarded. For it's the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in a wilderness that surprises you. Its residents will fascinate, surprise and overwhelm you.

Thanks to Wilderness Safaris for showing me a new side to Botswana and breaking many of my misconceptions.
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Jul 16, 2015   |   Visited: Aug 2014.
The Okavango Delta has to be one of the most beautiful places myself and my husband have ever visited.

We stayed in 3 lodges which gave a good level of service and a mixed idea of activities from floating gently on the water to nights drives in game drive vehicles.

The area is of outstanding beauty but the highlight was being able to watch the wonderful wild ... read more
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Nov 20, 2014   |   Visited: Aug 2014.
The Okavango Delta offers on elf the most pristine wilderness areas in Africa to explore. This unique ecosystem with the annual flood pouring into one of the driest regions creates a water wonderland in from April-October. The onset of the summer rains attract a plethora of birdlife and the lambing of many herbivores. The predators here are in abundance and the pro... read more
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Oct 03, 2014   |   Visited: Jun 2010.
The Okavango Delta is one of my most vivid and memorable African experiences. The feeling of slowly meandering around the waterways of the delta in a mokoro as wild elephant and giraffe wander by, crocodiles peer out over the water's surface and hippos play while the sun sets will stay with me forever. I took a scenic flight over the delta to put this immense lands... read more
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Jul 30, 2014   |   Visited: Feb 2014.
I think the Okavango Delta was my favorite part of my time in Botswana. There's something so rejuvenating about silently gliding down a river in a dug-out, wooden canoe slipping gently by hippos and crocodiles as if you were one of them.
It can seem a bit scary, getting in one of these canoes, but don't miss this opportunity to get so close to wildlife.
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Mar 17, 2014   |   Visited: Oct 2010.
If I had to sum up the Okavango Delta in one word, it would be stirring. If you love the feeling of isolation, in the midst of the some of the most untouched wilderness in the world, Botswana's Okavango Delta ticks all the boxes.

I was traveling on an overland safari, and the Delta was offered as a 5 day side trip. I leaped at the chance! Beginning our trip at ... read more
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(4/5 stars) Written on: Nov 14, 2013   |   Visited: May 2013.
I was there at the end of the rainy season and there was plenty of game and incredible sightings. If you are out in the remoter lodges you don't see anyone else and it has that air of exclusivity. Make sure you take a mekoro boat trip and let yourself relax as you glide through the waters brushing by water lilies and reeds. Truly magical. read more
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Sep 23, 2013   |   Visited: Mar 2012.
Magical light, water, birds and incredible colors, all that is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. As an inland delta in the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta is a fabulous safari destination, famous for:

Birding
Big 5 sightings and especially Big Cats
Water activities for great wildlife photography
High wildlife density
Fabulous light
Great variety of camps... read more

I saw

Hippopotamus
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Sep 19, 2013   |   Visited: Jan 2013.
The Okavango Delta is stunning. Amazing wildlife sightings and a mix between African bush and Okavango Delta waterways. You are able to do boat trips and mokoro (wooden canoe) trips with professional guides at some of the lodges. The Game Reserves in Botswana are low impact, which means that unlike other countries - when you game drive, you dont have many other ... read more

I saw

Hippopotamus
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(4/5 stars) Written on: Sep 05, 2013   |   Visited: May 2012.
Just getting to the Okavango is a memorable adventure. The roads cut through barren bushland and it's rare to spot another vehicle. During the peak flood times of June – August the Okavango water level turns surrounding roads into mush, and twice our truck had to be pulled out of a river by tractor. Most tours leave from Botswana's main tourist town, Maun, but I we... read more

I saw

Hippopotamus
Nile crocodile
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(5/5 stars) Written on: May 21, 2013   |   Visited: Feb 2009.
The Okavango is a many-headed beast, and each head is as fantastic as the other. I will focus on walking safaris. Many safaris involve taking small wooden boats called mokoros out into the Delta to camp. While there, you walk around and try to get into trouble. We succeeded in spades.
While tracking lions (this is called "fun"), using their annoyed roars every twe... read more
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Botswana's big boys surprise and delight whilst smashing safari perceptions. Go into every safari experience with open mind, no expectations and you shall be rewarded.

Danica saw these animals

African buffalo
African buffalo
Elephant
Elephant
Giraffe
Giraffe
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Bird watching
Bird watching
Boating / canoeing
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