DELTA DAWN: ARRIVAL

This is the first of a series of posts about our most wonderful adventure on safari in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, written a week or so after the fact. I choose to call our safari Delta Dawn because…well, just because…and what is that flower you have on…

Safaris are silly. That is what I thought. We have an excellent zoo in Albuquerque where I can see animals native to other lands any time I want. In fact it is so close by I can hear the seals bark and smell elephant dung on my morning walks. Why spend a ton of money driving around some distant bush or plain or jungle to see those same animals from further away?

How absolutely wrong I was. A few years ago I went on a half-week safari with friends to the Masai Mara in Kenya. It was a grand experience in a land magnificently abundant in humanity’s history and in the environmental and wildlife reminders of what was—that we humans of today seem intent on destroying. Almost life-changing in a way. As in ‘yes, there is something more important to the world than one more shopping experience, one more foodie emporium.’

And, yes, it seems so appropriate to be the ‘caged’ while the animals roam free and appear to consider our vehicles a small annoyance if we’re noticed at all.

Now, I’ve been on a second safari and it is time to remove the ‘almost’ from the phrase ‘life-changing.’

A family trip to the Okavango Delta which was just completed a week ago. A fourteen-hour day animal viewing. Another almost two days and a night gliding about the Delta’s marshy waterways in mokoros and sleeping with hippo snorts and a million billion bird and insect sounds all about. And finally a four-hour trek across another island while being instructed in the various kinds of tracks and dung from the herds of wildebeests and elephants off to the right or left, and the many unseen animals presumably lurking just behind that small clump of trees over there or there or there.

This adventure came about thanks to one son’s determination to find a safari the whole family could afford and being smart enough to let Lonely Planet guide him. So it all happened courtesy of Scott, LP and Old Bridge Backpacker’s Lodge.

Our family of travelers included grandchildren Steven and Teresa in their 20s, sons Scott and Steve in their 50s and me in my 70s. We are all fit for our age and a curious bunch, especially the four who had never been on the continent before. Scott’s big fear was that the trip he had so carefully planned would not live up to our expectations; my big fear was spiders.

We arrive in Maun and head out to Old Bridge Backpackers.

We arrive in Mauna and head out to Old Bridge Backpackers.

OLD BRIDGE.

Day One: We arrived at Old Bridge Backpackers mid-afternoon after a pleasant flight on Botswana Airlines from Johannesburg. Our roomy-enough tents awaited us—the permanent kind which included an outdoor en suite bathroom with toilet, sink, warm shower and a voyeuristic bird or two. Of course the tents zip open and shut at both ends and that’s really the only down-side, the constant zipping and unzipping for every single step-out to toilet or front porch sofa and coffee-maker. Thankfully I did not know—until they so gleefully shared the story later—that when Scott and kids were going to each of our three tents to raise the flaps they found numerous and substantial spiders nesting just underneath. I did hear whispering outside but I was innocently unpacking and willing Botswana to be spider-free.

We rested a bit, walked around to see the ‘old bridge’ and get a first glimpse of the area’s plentiful bird population. Dinner with lots of beer and everyone’s favorite music, even an old folk melody here and there for me and a restful—in an odd way—night. The odd bit being that it was so very noisy with birds and insects and barking dogs and the occasional blatting goat wandering by and even what sounded like a hippo-splash in the pond out front now and again. Little did we know that the party-house across the pond would move into full-effect on future nights but for this first night we were blissfully immersed in the natural night sounds of Botswana.

Just outside our front 'flap.'

Just outside our front ‘flap.’

 

The gang on our first Old Bridge walk.

The gang on our first Old Bridge walk.

FOLLOWING BIRD PHOTOS ARE THE BEST MY LITTLE POINT AND SHOOT COULD PRODUCE. I like them anyway.

First bird sighting, a Kingfisher.

First bird sighting, a Kingfisher.

Big Bird.

Big Bird.

Roadrunner and Killdeer cousin.

Roadrunner and Killdeer cousin.

Who is he?

Who is he?

No clue...

No clue…

This is an ... egret?

This is an … egret?

Under Delta Water.

Under Delta Water.

Termite Mound.

Termite Mound.

dscn0901

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One Comment on “DELTA DAWN: ARRIVAL

  1. The pictures are great, and so is the adventure. Schuyler really wants to see some African wildlife, but the hotel room can’t be far away…and no spiders or snakes please….but a great adventure for you and your family,.

    Like

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