So clearly yesterday's blog was quite negative, and therefore, if you haven't heard of the Okavango Delta you might be wondering why it is that we were so keen to go there in the first place. Once again I'd like to quote from our itinerary as this might give you some sort of idea:-
"The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta, a labyrinth of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels covering 17 000 square km. It originates in Angola - numerous tributaries join to form the Cubango River which then flows through Namibia, becoming the Kavango River and finally enter Botswana where it is becomes the Okavango. Millions of years ago the Okavango River used to flow into a large inland lake called Lake Makgadikgadi (now Makgadikgadi Pans). Tectonic activity and faulting interrupted the flow of the river causing it to back up and form what is now the Okavango Delta. This has created a unique system of waterways that supports a vast array of animal and plant life that would have otherwise been a dry Kalahari savannah.
There are an estimated 200 000 large mammals in and around the Okavango Delta. On the mainland and among the islands in the delta, lions, elephants, hyenas, wild dog, buffalo, hippo and crocodiles congregate with a teeming variety of antelope and other smaller animals - warthog, mongoose, spotted genets, monkeys, bush babies and tree squirrels. Notably the endangered African Wild Dog is present within the Okavango Delta, exhibiting one of the richest pack densities in Africa. The delta also includes over 400 species of birds, including the African Fish Eagle.
Many of these animals live in the Delta but the majority pass through, migrating with the summer rains to find renewed fields for grazing. With the onset of winter the countryside dries up and they make their way back to the floodplains. This leads to some of the most incredible sightings as large numbers of prey and predators are pushed together. Certain areas of the Delta provide some of the best predator action seen anywhere in the world."
Sounds pretty cool!
You may also we wondering if perhaps we just chose the wrong time of year to visit. Truth is I asked one of our guides about this and he informed us that it's only the beginning of the rainy season , it gets worse. Also, during the dry season it's their equivalent of what we would consider winter. In other words it gets cold…as in -0˚C! Also not ideal camping weather!
Aside from that the dry season is actually when the Delta waters are at their highest. Because the river originates in Angola it takes 6 months for the floods from that country to reach the Delta, and when they do most of the area we have visited will be completely flooded. So based on that information we are actually visiting at the best time of year.
So on to today… Most of us woke up cold and miserable although Cristina (from Brazil) was the first to voice her opinions. We wanted to go back to Siziba and Sonny!
Well, most of us did! There were a few of the group willing to stick it out although Vincent and Thekla weren't amongst them. (Neither of them are supposed to express their own opinions but both did to certain people, myself and Adam included). That said the whole group has to stick together so Vincent said we could all think about it whilst we went on our morning walk and if we came to a unanimous decision to return he would call Siziba and see what he could sort out.
The morning did bring sunshine which was good and everything started to dry out once more, but yesterday morning had been hot and sunny too and look how that turned out!
We set out on our walk which required a half hour trip in the mokoro's to a different island. Although we were following different waterways the trip was the same as the day before. We didn't see any different animals , birds or plants. It was still pretty relaxing, or it would have been if the mokoro's weren't starting to make our backs ache from sitting in such awkward positions. We didn't have the mattresses today either!
Once on the island we set out once more and this time most of the locals had come with us. They had all spent what must have been a horrendous night in their tiny tents where they could only lie in the foetal position because they were so small. Not to mention the fact they were completely soaked. But all of them had come along in what I consider to be in an attempt to 'cheer us up'.
It was pretty good with each one of them trying to impart their knowledge of the local wildlife and terrain but after an hour we had covered the whole island and there were still no animals or birds in sight. We stopped at a buffalo skull where one of the group, a very large guy, nicknamed Jaws, with the biggest hands and feet I have ever seen in my life (and he was only about 18) began to tell us all about the skeletal structure of the animals and how it assists them to survive. We were all very impressed by his apparent knowledge but we still turned to Simone and Stef, who are medical students, to find out if he was correct. Apart from a couple of minor mispronunciations he was!
We asked how he had come by all this knowledge and he told us that he loves to read. Everything he knows he has learnt from reading books! Pretty impressive for someone with very little schooling! He told us he would like to go to college but this quickly rang alarm bells. He was buttering us up for a large tip!
You might think I'm cruel but believe me, when you are travelling as long as we are you really can't afford to tip everyone and it soon gets tiring when you notice the signs. Everyone in every country feels their story is more important than the last and they see tourists as a moving ATM!
Back at camp there were some heated discussions and Vincent agreed to ring Siziba again (turns out he had already spoken to him) to see if we could split and just some of us return to the truck. But it was too late, by this time he couldn't hire a 4x4 truck to come and gets us, there just wasn't enough notice.
So we settled down to prepare for another night in the Delta.
During this afternoon we were supposed to go on another mokoro ride but my back was hurting, I was wet and miserable and each time we went out the view was just the same, Adam, myself and a few others decided to stay behind and sit by the campfire.
After dinner most of the group were still cold and miserable. I wasn't raining although everything was still pretty damp from light showers this afternoon so once again the polers tried to cheer us up.
They grouped together and started to clap, sing and perform local dances much like we saw the bushmen do around the campfire in Namibia. It was hilariously funny, especially when they began a frog dance and some of the guys, Jaws especially, crouched down and began to hop amongst us, stopping every few hops to thrust their hips at each other in some kind of weird mating dance! These guys are not shy but us timid westerners found the whole situation extremely funny!
Later we played a few games to bring the group together and we all had good laugh at each other. I won't tell you any of the games though as they make good party/drinking games that we may want to use in future…
Off to bed again preparing to get wet once more…