Shambles In the Okavango Delta

Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
Trip End Sep 19, 2010

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bush camp

Flag of Botswana  ,
Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ali v Foreman in Zaire may have been called the “Rumble in the Jungle” but our Okavango experience could be called the “Shambles in the Delta”.

It certainly wasn't the most organised part of the trip. Up in the morning and onto the cattle truck again for what we were told was a short drive, then told it was longer and ended up being about 2.5 hours through various little villages along corrugated dirt roads until we stopped at water and reeds in the middle of nowhere, just some chained up with no polers to take us to camp. Apparently the company that Geckos uses to organise this part of the trip told the polers the wrong day and they were all back in town.

After waiting for about 10 mins we asked to get off the truck at least and were told we couldn't get off, then minutes later told to get off so they could go back to the village to pick up the polers. We didn’t bother with the mokoros in the end as it was on an island only about 500m away and we could drive the truck there (?!?!). The camp was made up of the standard all-Africa issue tents covered in leaves in a bush campsite, many of tents the worse for wear from being the weather all the time.

Various people of the polers’ group turned up, we played some UNO and sat down to lunch around midday. The polers apologised for camp not being ready due the mix up in days, though if they thought we were coming yesterday then the camp should’ve been ready yesterday by my reckoning. If we had been a day early instead of late then that reasoning would make sense.

After lunch it was time for a ride in the mokoros, which are long canoes with flat bottoms so they can travel through some very shallow water and over reeds, though the original ones were dugouts, these modern ones were made of fibreglass. The 2 hour trip to some “island” which was either through reeds or shallow channels as the deeper ones are where the hippos like to hang out (and it wasn’t until we left the Delta that Gift told us that when one group went through recently a hippo had charged over to purposely knock over a mokoro).

Hard to relax in the mokoro at first it was as you keep worrying about the balance of the thing and our poler wasn’t very old but he did the job in the end, even though he was getting a little tired. In the end the sunburn due to the malaria tablets was my only problem, though Lisa and Jess had a bigger worry when their poler snapped his pole as they were dashing across the deepwater channel where the hippos were… he was shitting himself and resorted to trying to paddle the mokoro with the remains. Also shows how organised these guys were that the spare pole was in the mokoro AT THE FRONT.

The nature walk turned out to be a bust. It should've been called a "poop walk" as all that happened was the guide, "Nature", pointed out the shit from various animals as we traipsed around like idiots in the hot sun. We should’ve stopped when we got onto dry land and he said “there isn’t much here but we look what we see”. Numerous times we saw where elephants has scratched against trees (the mud on the tree being a giveaway), where hippos had sprayed shit with the tails to mark territory, and had the footprints of some animal pointed out to us.

And in case we didn’t know what animal he was talking about, he had a like foldout thing with the pictures of animals on it. Didn’t take too long to realise it was the lead guy pointing things out to Nature and he didn’t really know any more than I did. I couldn't wait to get back to camp in the end, the highlight of the trip being when we stopped at the hippo pool to watch the sunset, and the hippos splashing around a bit for the photos.

After dinner the polers can back to provide some "entertainment" - seems they wanted to do some singing and dancing for us but it was a bit of a shambles as they seemed drunk already but were still nervous as hell. After a few songs they asked us to sing one and somehow we got a rather poor rendition of "10 Green Bottles" going lmao. Pissweak allround apart from Gift singing a song. The weirdest part was when one of the guys put something up his shirt like he was pregnant then started dancing. We were warned before bed not to get out of our tents if possible due to hippos and other animals, but I didn't see or hear anything more than distant hippos calling during the night.
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