Okavango Delta, Botswana

The Okavango Delta is an inland delta. What that means is that the mighty Okavango River flows until it ends, not into the sea, but out through an immense grassland and disappears into the Kalahari desert. It just sinks into the ground and evaporates. You can’t really drive there as your car would just get stuck in the Delta. So we drove to Maun, Botswana, and flew to the Moperi Resort by small plane.

The flight was incredible because we could see so many animals walking around and swimming below us. We saw giraffes, elephants, cape buffalo, hippos, springbok, and lechwe antelope just from the airplane!

We landed on a dirt runway and were met by staff from Moperi. We walked to the edge of the island we were on to a large two-decker pontoon boat. We went out on the lagoon and in about five minutes we pulled up to the dock at the resort. The staff was singing to us, something like, “Welcome to Moperi”. They had ice-cold washcloths for us to wipe down with because it was hot. It felt incredible and that was one of the neatest ways to be made to feel welcome I’ve ever experienced.

We walked up to the open-air reception, dining area, bar, and lounge and it was one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen.

The staff included Brenden who was South African and seemed to be the boss. Edna, a Maasai woman, was our waitress, hostess, and trained masseuse.

Mr. X was the bartender and our chef was Kelly and she announced our dinner each night with a traditional African ululation call. There were bathrooms open to the air and a gift shop. There were two pools.

The 10 rooms were separated from each other by long boardwalks. Ours was the second farthest away and it took a good 5 minutes to walk there.

The room was a permanent luxury tent. We had a deck with lovely chairs and a fantastic view of the lagoon just past the papyrus plants. You’ll just have to study the photos attached to this post because I could write forever about how cool the room was. Just stunning and so awesome.

At night, housekeeping came by to turn down the room, which included putting down the mosquito nets. On the shelf in the room was a can of Doom bug spray, a can of Peaceful Sleep personal bug spray, and an air horn in case there was a large animal spotted and giving us trouble. Uhhhh… none of these things were too reassuring.

We heard a hippo late at night making a “ruh-ruh-ruh” sound and the second night we heard a really weird sound that we think was monkeys jumping on the roof of our room/tent.

So, on that first day, we had our first boat ride out in the papyrus right after a delicious high tea. Kenny and his father-in-law took us all around through the small canals of papyrus in two small motorboats. We saw a small crocodile and lots of birds. We had our drinks of choice and watched the sun go down from the boat. It was a pretty magical moment or two.

We had fish and potato gratin for dinner. Kenny escorted us to our room with a bright flashlight because there was a place where the raised boardwalk dipped down to let the hippos pass by at night on their way out of the lagoon. The most dangerous animal in Africa is the mosquito and the second most dangerous is the hippo.

On our second day in the Okavango Delta, we got up early for a lovely breakfast. I was loving all the time we were spending outside. It was warm and more humid than San Diego, but not too bad (yet).

We got in our two-speed boats and headed off for a 2-hour trip through endless papyrus to get to the site where we switched to the mokoro canoes. There was a team of polers and a fleet of small canoes and the polers steered us to an island where we took a blisteringly hot walk, seeing birds, monkeys, and baboons, and then had lunch, provided by the resort. When we were done with lunch, a large bull elephant sloshed through the water right in front of us, maybe 200 meters away. Kenny whispered to us, “Make no noise at all. If he charges us, stand still. If he charges again, clap your hands. If he charges again, run to the boats.” The elephant stopped, looked at us with a sort of sidelong glance, lifted his trunk in the air to smell us, and continued to walk past us into the bushes and out of sight. Later two elephants appeared out of the scrub in the same place and walked away from us. Later Kenny told us that they have a general plan to scare wild animals away from the tourists, using themselves as lures while they climb trees to safety. There was fresh dung from several big animals around there, including Cape Buffalo, which are pretty unfriendly too.

Then we transferred back to the speed boats to see hippos, a huge crocodile, and untold numbers of fancy birds and finally got back to the resort. It was hot there too but at least it was shady. We had high tea and then Jen and I each had a fantastic hour-long massage by Edna.

Dinner was not as good as the night before, but it was served with style. Kenny joined our end of the table and we had a wonderful talk with him. He spoke five languages but has never left Botswana. His family is from the Delta and he knows it like the back of his hand. This was reminding us of the movie Out of Africa. We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

So, this part of the safari to the Delta and many of the excursions we had been enjoying were sold in what Nomad called an “Activity Package” or AP. Almost everything fun was part of the AP. They pretty much insist you buy the AP before you go. If you don’t buy the package, there is a chance on the day of the excursion, you can pay individually for it that day, but there is no guarantee. And without the AP, there was no possibility of going to the Delta. Only Boris hadn’t bought the AP, so he wasn’t on this trip with us. Grumpy Bruce refused to go on some of the excursions, even though he had paid for the AP. And at the end, Bruce was the only one to complain about the Delta trip, even though it was lovely and luxurious and incredible and relaxing and fantastic. He complained because it was half the price of the whole safari. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

The next morning, we had breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, crunchy toast with homemade jam, cereal, warm muffins, and a side of monkeys jumping all over the place and scolding us from the trees. The monkeys could jump onto the tables, grab a morsel and leap back into the trees before you could blink.

We returned by the big pontoon boat to the airstrip. We had another incredible flight back to Maun, spotting all kinds of wildlife below. Now we knew that what looked like the land before was really water with papyrus growing in it. The Delta was vast. We flew from the middle of it for 40 minutes and only at the end near the airport at Maun did we get to actual land.

We got off the plane and had time to shop in the lovely shops at the airport before we boarded Chuck and went to our nearby hotel. The Sedia River Lodge had a green pool (we put our feet in only), a lovely bar, a path to the river, and beautiful, fantastic, wonderful WIFI.

That WiFi came not a moment too soon. By then we were staring at the back end of the trip and had many follow-on travel arrangements to make. Between my friend Debbi in San Diego and me using the computer in the office of the hotel, we got everything organized. What a relief!