My eyes filled with tears as I witnessed the serenity of Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
There was something very special about drifting along the narrow water channels of the Okavango Delta, carved out by hippos throughout the centuries.
Travelling in mokoros, or traditional canoes, meant there was no sound but the gentle spatter of the water as our poler steered us through the long reeds using a long wooden stick.
First to appear was a hippo, which disappeared under the water, followed by a croc on a rock basking in the morning sun.
We stuck to the edge of the flood plains in a line, so as not to threaten the hippos. Never underestimate a hippo.
During the safety briefing, I had been nervous about how vulnerable we might be on the water but once we set off it was clear the animals were used to the mokoro trail.
Elephants, zebra, warthogs and giraffe were seen hanging out in the long grass by the water’s edge while pelicans circled above us, like moving stencils in the African blue sky.
Lions and leopards also roam the flats but are a rare sight to be had, which I warmly welcomed as I sat balancing in a fibre glass canoe.
Top tips on how to see the Okavango Delta
There are several ways to experience Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
Maun is a popular base to explore the Eastern Delta where you can go poling for the day or head out on a seven or 14 day expedition into the central plains.
We opted for an overnight bush camp at one of the delta’s many islands which took two hours to reach by water.
Our polers helped carry our tents and sleeping bags into the bush where we cooked, played and slept under a canopy of trees.
Afternoon activities included bush walks, poling lessons and swimming at a nearby watering hole. The guides checked for crocs before we began wading and hand-standing in the water.
Before nightfall, we cooked a two pot meal on hot coals before being invited to watch traditional song and dance by local villagers under the stars.
The shrills and harmonies of the Botswana choir rose into the air with the flames of the bonfire.
The following morning, I woke up to fine three giraffes strolling right past our campsite, less than ten steps away from the fallen tree we used as a kitchen counter to set up for breakfast.
Just after sunrise, we did a second bush walk at no extra cost. The guides tapped on our tents at 6am when we ventured out of the campsite to catch the animals grazing at sunrise.
Tour companies are flexible and we were also able to choose what time to return to the mainland.
I will never forget my overnight adventure in the Okavango Delta. I recommend it wholeheartedly as the best of Botswana.
If you have any questions about the Okavango Delta or about Botswana in general, don’t hesitate to comment below or get in touch!