Okavango Delta: Africa's Eden In Botswana
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is one of the world’s largest inland deltas and one of the very few major delta systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean, with a wetland system that is almost intact.
Besides the surreal environment, it supports 164 mammalian species, 157 species of reptiles and 540 species of bird. Key predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and endangered African wild dogs find sanctuary here alongside huge herds of wildebeests, buffaloes, zebras and various antelope species.
The islands (some say 150,000) in Okavango were formed following the creation of termite mounds, while the waterways and paths created by the hippos. The physical nature of the Delta is constantly changing as these animals reshape the landscape as the seasons' progress - new islands are formed whilst others are swallowed up by flood or the trampling of other animals.
We spent two nights here learning about life in the delta, cruising the waterways in mokoros and boats as well as getting chased by a herd of breeding elephants off Amarula Island. My companions had been moaning about not seeing elephants despite the entire place covered in their poop. I’m not sure why anyone wants to see wild elephants while on a WALKING tour but just as voices were getting raised, someone with very sharp eyes spotted one. Hurray, let’s go see the elephant. The guide gave three instructions – 1) Be quiet, 2) Move in a single file and 3) No sudden movement. Everyone ignored the warnings as we got closer and closer just to discover it was one but a herd of breeding elephants aka aggressive mummies and babies. They noticed we were there and one of them started heading towards our mokoro to block our exit from the island but was kind enough to let out two loud warning trumpets.
We raced back to the meeting point and same people who were eager to see elephants were now wondering about their lives possibly being in danger. I found it all amusing even though I was too ill
On the mokoro ride back I overheard someone pray to see hippos. At this point, I prayed for Jesus to take the wheel because clearly people had lost their minds and were trying to get us killed.
Botswana has one of the highest conservation land rations in Africa and has been very successful with their wildlife conservation strategy that is based on attracting the high-rolling, low-impact end of the tourist trade. They have a policy that limits the number of visitors and charge very high prices for the privilege but I must say, the beauty of the country is worth every penny you pay.