After all of the traveling, I was ready to go on my walking safari, whatever that meant in the Okavango Delta. While I had read about “going on safari”, I hadn’t a clue what that actually entailed but I was about to find out. Walking from my “room” (tent at Oddballs’ Camp) in the sandy path to the main common area, it is a bit surreal, in a Disney kind of way – my own live version of the jungle cruise! I felt like this was the backyard to the Wilderness Lodge and the main ride was to come. Meeting the group I flew in with, the five of us joined our three guides and boarded our mokoro boats to begin our first of four safari treks/rides through the channels and out onto the water.
Safari by Mokoro Boat
As it was September, I had left the singing cicadas back home and expected some sort of noise on the water but it was quiet – so, so quiet with a nice breeze.
I could hear the water as we glided though. Being on the water has always brought a sense of calm to me – a great way to clear my mind and try to process all of the newness of the experience. As we were navigating through the tall grasses (or reeds? I haven’t a clue as to the correct terminology), one disadvantage to being alone in the boat is that I was having to push some of the grasses aside or risk getting whacked in the face with them. Usually the first person in the boat has the task to move them so I needed to multitask as I had my camera ready for photos and also wanted to just visually explore the surroundings and process it all. So risking damage to all the good that Pilates has done for me and my posture, I took a rounded back position with my arms in a triangle/praying stance with my camera sticking out so that I could move the grass with my arms, avoid getting hit in the face and take photos at the same time.
I saw a moving tree which turned out to be a giraffe in the distance. Using my new camera with lens, I was able to snap this:
Walking Safari in Botswana – Okavango Delta
Once we landed the boat in the muddy shore, we started the walking safari in the Moremi Game Reserve of the Okavango Delta. Each group landed at different parts of the island and I wouldn’t see anyone until later. For the next two to three hours, my guide would show me how to track the animals through their poop, footprints and sadly their kills. He was unarmed and we were walking in the dry, open landscape. Again, it could be anywhere in the world, but it was Botswana.
We first came upon the Impala, which remind me of deer and just like deer, they are everywhere. The Impala travel in groups – there is one male that fights the other males to lead the female group (now, while a harem sound great in theory, in practice not so easy). The males stay in their own group until a power struggle occurs or nature requires a replacement to lead the girls.
The impala are across the field when we see them. The baboons just run from the tree on our left and don’t even notice us walking, nor does the warthog. Everyone just goes about their business as if they don’t see us. It’s weird because I think I’m supposed to be a bit scared or frightened but I am not, its all very safe in my opinion or at least feels that way. My guide explains how he grew up in the village and has been tracking his whole life – he has worked for the camp for over nine years – he has never left the village –
We walk some more and my guide explains different trees, flowers and lots of poop. Thankfully we don’t smell the poop which means there aren’t any animals in the nearby area. After our walk, we head back to the mokoro to make our way back to camp.
Final Thoughts – First Day Walking Safari
We all had a good first day on our walking safari, I didn’t see any big 5 today (others had) – we would compare notes and photos once back at camp to watch the sun set. It sets pretty quickly but the colors are stunning. One of my struggles on the trip will be when to savor the experience with camera down vs. capture the moment for memory. I quickly took this and then with my glass of wine, sat still with the group to admire the sunset and breathe in Botswana.