Chobe, we were told, would be the highlight of our animal experience. The Okavango Delta, however, would yield a different experience. Get us closer to nature. On this leg, we would visit a rustic game preserve and walk with the animals. But first we had to get there…
To get to the Okavango Delta, we had to take a small plane. It only held 5 passengers- one up front, four in the back. Given there were 15 of us in total, that meant we split up and took three different planes. It was a windy morning, so the small plane bounced around until we reached our 2,000 foot cruising altitude. On arrival to the Delta, however, the pilot lowered the plane to 1,000 feet and we soared over elephants, hippos, and giraffes as we approached our sanctuary for the next two days.
Upon landing, we were escorted on a trail through the grass (and elephant dung) to a boat to take us to our camp for the night. Remember those sandals I packed? DEFINATELY not the right choice for todays activities. But hey, at least I looked cute traipsing through the elephant poop. #shoefail
The Moremi Game Reserve sits right on the water’s edge and the cabins are rustic and clean. Canvas sides and wooden floors with in tent showers and restrooms could hardly be considered “roughing it.” Upon arrival, we were read the rules of the resort. Rule #1: No walking alone at night. A guide must always be present, so we were shepherded around with several of our 15 having to shew elephants from their path to get back to their tents for the night.
At this resort we took an evening cocktail cruise on the hunt for animals, crossing every species and color of bird you can imagine, and happening upon the occasional elephant, hippo or giraffe. Unlike Chobe, the animals don’t congregate in herds as much and so finding them feels more like a hunt. Just the peace of being on the water amongst the reeds was reward enough, though.
The next morning, we took a mokoro (similar to a cross between a canoe and stand up paddle board) and silently glided over the water to an island between the streams, and did a game walk. It is a different experience to be on the same level, no barriers, between you and a heard of wild buffalo or zebras- neither one of you really sure what the other will do, and thus both sides are rather cautious.
That night, the quiet night gave way to a flurry of activity and noises as hippos exited the water next to our tent to scavenge for food and elephants shook the palms just outside to drop their fruit. It made us understand why an escort was required. I, however, stayed safely (?) in the comfort of my tent on the delta.