When it comes to deltas, the Okavango is the best. And if that’s too cryptic an introduction then let’s catch up with some more delta facts.
At 15 000 square kilometres, the Okavango Delta is one of the largest deltas in the world, protected by both the government of Botswana and mother nature itself. The wetlands make it very difficult to build buildings, roads and the other disruptors of natural life we humans love to splatter all over the auction.
It’s naturally caught the eyes of the UNESCO World Heritage Site team with its seasonally flooded grassy plains that house some of the world’s most endangered, and enigmatic species: white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog and lion.
Plus the cheetah and that great creature whose size camouflages its vulnerability: the elephant.
As a result of all this, plus Botswana’s deliberate choice to have a low-volume, high-cost tourism policy, to arrange a safari trip on the Okavango Delta, you’ll most likely need to fly in to a lodge from Maun.
Maun’s a lively little spot, full of wiry bush pilots, lost travellers looking for the Delta and local folk from Botswana just trying to go about their business. It sits on the edge of the Moremi Game Reserve, handy for a quick road safari while waiting for a flight, and its market, small museum and various art shops give the tiniest of glimpses into the cultural heart of the country.
And, as ever, Maun’s children like to have a good time too.
But even though Botswana’s road to lead to Maun, from here the water takes over. While travellers mill around waiting for flights, the people who live here load up their dug-out canoes, called mokoros, and take to the Thamalakane River.
Or onto the Delta itself.
And, of course, it’s not hard work all the time.
And it’s easy to find beauty on the water’s edge.
At eye level…
And with tendrils stretching down…
Then there are the sunsets…
Ah, the sunsets…
But however great the majesty of colours that spill from the sky ablaze with flames, the best view still comes from above.
When your turn arrives to climb into a Cessna and lift slowly, shudderingly, stoppingly up, up, up…
To look back down at the splendour of the Okavango Delta: the best safari from the sky.
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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