Most river deltas flow into an open sea not so with the Okavango River. This river empties onto an open land, flooding the Savannah and creating an immense oasis spreading about 6500sq. miles. This is the Okavango Delta which is listed among the seven wonders of Africa and is the 1000th site to be named a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
The Okavango Delta attracts various species of African wildlife, and is home to some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammal, such as the cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, as well as lions, hippos, African wild dogs, water antelope, etc. This is an ideal walking safari site. If you have five days to spare, this is where you should go.
Day 1: Arrive at Maun and Connect a Campsite around Okavango Delta
Maun is the tourism capital of Botswana and most safari and air-charter operators have their base in this city. Feel free to negotiate with any of them—you can even sort this before your trip to Maun by surfing the internet. A good deal will get you to a campsite close to the Okavango Delta from where you can start you safari actively. Some will fly you first to Xaxaba, where you will have a gentle introduction to the breath-taking African savannah, before taking you on a boat ride to your camp. Know that you will be going through one of earth’s last wildernesses to get to your camps, and some camps may only be reached on foot during certain parts of the year. Interestingly, you can take in all that nature offers here—it’s part of the benefits of a safari in the Okavango Delta.
Day 2: Begin Your Safari Walk from Your Camp
Set forth from your camp and let the fun begin. It is a safari in the Okavango Delta, so expect a full day of walking! The walk will last until the sun’s heat announces itself on your back—or when you feel you have had enough and need to rest. Ensure you get a good spot by the local river before you settle down for your first rest. A cool and shady spot where you can enjoy lunch with cold drinks and refreshing swims away from the intensity of the midday heat will be perfect and don’t be a pessimist, such spots are there, they are the truly remote and peaceful bush picnic spots. You can resume the walk when the temperature cools off. On your return to your camp, if you are with the right tour operator, a bush chef and his assistant should have prepared a welcome campfire for you. This is where you and your group will gather to recount your day’s experience, while downing cold drinks and a hearty meal. The chorus of reed frogs, nightjars and crickets, with a beautiful blanket of stars overhead should lull you to sleep.
Day 3: Go for the Prize, it is time for True Exploration
The prize for today’s safari in the Okavango Delta is a sight of Africa’s prized possessions called the big five: they are the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros. Rise and shine from you camp bed, activate your system with a reinvigorating coffee and breakfast, don your adventure cap and set out once again for an entire day of new exploration and fun. The adventure hat will be useful when you want to cross floodplains and water channels/small Rivers, all in search of some of the big 5. After the day’s walk, return to the camp—possibly a new makeshift on a new site, to a recreated but more interesting repeat of last night’s experience
Day 4: Complete the Circular Exploration
If you didn’t get the prize yesterday, here is a new opportunity. If you did yesterday, there is no harm in getting more. Set out from your camp, safari in the Okavango Delta should again lunch you into the beautiful African wildlife and scenery. Ensure you take in enough from your breakfast for this epic adventure, because it is a completely new day of walking and exploring. You should complete your circular walk and end up back at the camp where the adventure began.
Your arrival should be in the late afternoon, get nice showers and a refreshing drink and lie lazily watching the sky as the sun set. Enjoy dinner and spare ample time to reminisce about the past few days.
Day 5: It’s Home Time!
What you do today is up to you. However, if you follow my itinerary for a safari in the Okavango Delta, it should be time to go home. The route back is simply the same as you came. Take a nice breakfast before you leave. A boat should take you back to Xaxaba airstrip, where you will fly back to Maun.
If you have enough spare time, ensure you try your hand at commanding one of the traditional canoes, called a mekoro. You can as well do a little morning walk if that suits you. Don’t leave without chowing down some nice local delicacies, I am sure by now you should have tasted some.
I hate to say this but, for now, it’s Bon Voyage!
Usifo Mike-Alvin is a creative writer with knack for budget traveling and adventure. He travels across Africa and reports for www.afrotourism.com