We moved on to Moremi National Park, encompassing the Okavango Delta. At the moment, it is a month off the driest period of the year so the place isn't flooded. But there are plenty of ponds and marshes scattered over the pans and plenty of wildlife. We saw Tsessebe, a larger brown antelope which we had not seen before, and plenty of wildebeest, impala, zebra and giraffe. The wetter areas also are home to the Red Lechwe, like an impala but much bigger and with impressive antlers, a very pretty thing.
The early morning game drive also showed us a wealth of birdlife. Some waterholes were filled with birds from pelicans to small snipes. At the waterhole where we stopped for morning tea, we counted 13 different waterbirds all hungrily vying for the obviously abundant food supplies in the quite small pool of water.
This being only a month off the driest part of the Okavango Delta cycle, the area was not seriously flooded. However there were pools of permanent water everywhere, many with a resident hippo population hiding behind high banks of reeds.
The next day we said goodbye for the second and final time to Chris, our Botswana guide, and his safari truck where we had spent many a long hour with camera and binoculars in hand.
We arrived in Maun, a small town but the centre of tourist activities for the Delta. After settling in at Audi Camp on the outskirts on the riverbank, eight of us headed out to the airport for our hour flight over the Delta. Although we were only doing a short flight and returning to the same place we had to go through security. That meant the usual - no fluids over 100mL, no knives, guns, bombs etc. We declared we had none of that only to have our water bottles taken - though they were duly returned on the other side of security. Two of the guys had a Leatherman attached to their belts which they had forgotten about. What a fuss. They we also taken off and handed in… and then handed back as we boarded the plane! African security is not quite the same as home…
We went in 2 small Cessnas, 4 in each. Russ sat up front next to the young pilot and found himself scanning the instruments every five minutes - he couldn't help himself!
The flight was a big loop following the main rivers. The wings were dipped on each side constantly so we could all see the ground and try to spot the animals spread out over the flooded land. Only from the air can you appreciate the extent of the water coverage with shallow ponds and streams and rivers spreading out in a network of coloured water over the land. Sharp eyes are needed to spot the elephants, hippos, zebra and giraffe spread out feeding in the lush vegetation or walking on land or through the water. What an experience!