Maun & the Okavanga Delta

on the narrow makoro sailing through water lilies

on the narrow makoro sailing through water lilies

We spent three nights based out of Maun to see some of the Okavango Delta, and took an organized, overnight Makoro trip to actually spend the better part of 2 days camping in the delta. A makoro boat is basically a hollowed-out tree trunk, and fit only 2 people plus the poler standing on the back. With all that weight plus your camping supplies, the sides of the boat are maybe only 2 inches higher than the surface of the (very calm, thankfully) water, and the bottoms of the boat also aren’t perfectly water proof as water soaks in through the bark, forcing you to sit on a stack of hay grass to keep your bum dry. This was slightly unnerving since we all had camera equipment, money, phones, passports, or something that shouldn’t get wet, but we made it just fine there and back, sailing through some of the most beautiful, waterlily-filled waters you’ve ever seen.

a huge termite mound and our guide

a huge termite mound and our guide

We had a guide with us the entire time who showed us to our very private, shaded camp site, made fire for us to cook on, and took us on 2 game walks around the area. We saw giraffe, ostrich, wildebeest, zebra, some cool birds, a whole lot of termite mounds, and buffalo. I had no idea that buffalo are apparently one of the most dangerous wildlife to humans, and Steve explained to me they weren’t anything like the other ungulates since if one spots you, it looks at you like it owes you money, just before it stampedes you to death. Lovely.Our guide only had a walking stick, so luckily they weren’t close enough to care, and we also never ran into any lions or hippos, also very deadly to you if you aren’t in a car.

giraffes... all legs and neck

giraffes... all legs and neck

Once we returned to the town of the poler and tour guide, a car transfer had to pick us up to take us back to Audi Camp, where we were staying in Maun. We were relieved to have made it in those boats with all our stuff dry, but the road back was also flooded. Even though we had driven it the day before to get to the Makoros, the water levels had risen overnight and quite frankly, we had an incompetent driver. The first mistake was they put us and a bunch of others in the big jeep and all our luggage in a trailer dragged behind the car, which was much lower to the ground than we were. The second mistake is the driver was either half asleep or it was his first time driving a standard and he stalled the car in the middle of the deepest part of the flooded road. The third mistake is the trailer wasn’t waterproof, and after spending 5 minutes to try and start the car, answered ‘no’ to my query, ‘umm, the trailer is basically underwater so it must be waterproof, right?’

sunset behind the delta

sunset behind the delta

Goodbye brand new Olympus Evolt, my first and only DSLR camera, Steve’s 55-200mm zoom lens and cellphone, and all our tents, sleeping bags and clothes were freshly river washed. Audi camp refused to take any responsibility, and after a lot of discussing and hanging all our stuff to try in and in front of reception (explaining to every passing guest what had happened), they offered to refund us the $60 cost of the transfer (even though we paid them close to $600US for trip for the 4 of us). Moral of the story: don’t take trips with Audi Camp, in fact, don’t even stay with them, since they kind of suck and the owner is a jerk. And even though they do have ridiculously good burgers at the restaurant there, they’re super overpriced and you can get a way bigger, more delicious, local Botswana meal for under $2US in town.

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