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Anita’s Okavango Experience

Botswana
Jul 18 2012 Written by: Anita Campbell

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Okavango Delta for the first time. Hailing from Kenya, and being a specialist on all things East African, I was excited to see for myself what makes the Delta unique.

On arrival in Maun, we took a 20 mins flight by light aircraft into the Delta – spectacular views! I landed on Jao island and was met by the manager of Kwetsani Camp, we jumped on a boat and 20 mins later through the reeds and beautiful water lilies we arrived at the jetty. As we got to the jetty we received a radio call of a lion kill close by, I had not been in Botswana for even an hour and I was watching a lion kill. I knew the Okavango was going to be a trip of my lifetime.

There are many safari camps in the Delta, with most being small and exclusive in luxury en-suite safari tents. The camps fall into two broad categories of water camps and land camps, although some combine the elements of both. Water camps offer explorations by boat or mokoro on river lagoons and permanent swamps.  Land camps offer game drives and (if in private concessions) game walks. To get an all-round experience we suggest to combine both water and land camps.

The camps I visited included Kwetsani and Tubu which are both water and land based, Chitabe a land based camp, Vumbura Plains which is a land based camp however its sister Little Vumbura is a water based camp. My trip was in April which is their dry season however the flood plains had already started arriving and after the third day the water level was already by the vehicles door, I can only imagine what it is like in the wet season. The only game drives in water I have been on is in the rainy season in East Africa where you get stuck in the black cotton soil, so this was a very different game viewing experience driving through water and not getting stuck due to the Kalahari river sand.

The game viewing experience was exceptional.  Coming from East Africa I am used to seeing quantity and one does not need to search far for game. While in the Okavango you have to trek the paw prints and listen to the bush to get an idea of where the game is, and when you eventually find that Leopard, Cheetah, Hyena or Wild Dog it is a great sighting, therefore the Okavango offers quality game viewing. I was very impressed with the exceptional guides and the quality of their guiding.

The daily experience includes a very early wake up call, light breakfast before you head out for your morning game drive, stop mid-morning in the bush for tea and biscuits and head back to the camp for brunch. The afternoon is at your leisure enjoying the camp facilities. Following afternoon tea you leave on an evening game drive, stop for a sundowner drink in the bush and return to camp in time for dinner. The camp’s attention to detail is phenomenal all the staff know you by your first name, little gifts and notes on your beds each night.

For my last night we flew to the Linyati reserve, to Duma Tau Camp. The landscape, flora and fauna of the Linyati was very different from the Delta. The game viewing here was excellent, Hyena male and female, wild dogs fighting, Elephants crossing the channel and on the one game drive I did not go on (as I visited the new Duma Tau site), they saw a pangolin and a lion kill a teenage elephant!  Therefore I need to go back to see the finished product of the new Duma Tau Camp and maybe the Pangolin will wait for me!

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