“As a bee seeks nectar from all kind of flowers, seek teachings everywhere. Like a deer that finds a quiet place to graze, seek seclusion to digest all that you have gathered. Like a madman beyond all limits, go wherever you please and live like a lion completely free of all fear.” — Ancient Tibetan text

They say no trip to Africa is complete without a visit to the Okavango Delta in Botswana. If you love nature, birding, and the African wild, it’s a must-do. I’ve put some information about the delta at the end of this post for those curious to know more.

After an hour’s jeep ride to the mokoro launch (keep arms inside unless you want an “African tattoo” joked our comedic driver), down the equivalent of a looooong Maine logging road, we loaded belongings for our group and seven polers. Mokoros are the traditional canoes made by natives of the bush which are narrow, low to the water, and extremely tippy. One bush person stands in the back and propels the mokoro by pushing a long pole into the mud. The ride from the launch to our camp was about an hour, through wide channels with hippos bellowing a warning and narrow paths of reeds and lily pad flowers. The crew set up camp and we rested until 5pm when there was a bush walk. I skipped that one as I’d gotten food poisoning overnight and was still down for the count.

Guides preparing our mokoros
My companions and our chef photobombing
Riding in a mokoro

Part of setting up camp in the bush (aka middle of nowhere) is the communal toilet called a bushy-bushy. This is perhaps my favorite word of the entire trip. 😆 In the back of camp behind sufficient overgrowth, the crew digs a deep hole and sets a toilet seat attached to a frame over the hole. The tp and shovel are on a tree mid-camp. If they’re gone, you know the bushy-bushy is occupied. It’s a clever system.

This morning we went for a three-hour bush walk.

It’s one thing to observe wildlife from the relative safety of a vehicle and those animals have been conditioned to the presence of vehicles, as with traditional safaris on reserves. It’s quite another to be on foot in the bush with animals that have no human conditioning. In fact, I’d say it’s not for the faint of heart. I’m pretty adventurous AND I felt absolutely vulnerable, like the antelope constantly on watch for predators. This is as wild as it gets, friends. We heard lions roar in the distance, saw many giraffes and zebras, some warthogs, buffalo, impalas, red lechwe, duiker, dragonflies that followed us the entire way, the deep barking laugh of the hippo. Any of these could pop onto the scene at any time. But the bush people know these parts and are absolutely at home in the bush. They grew up in it. Their every movement appears carefully calculated, they have nearly bionic vision and hearing, spotting an impala or giraffe hidden in the plants half a mile away that I can’t see with my binoculars. I came to trust them though it didn’t mean I let down my own guard.

Porcupine quill

What does the bush look like?

Miles of wild sage (think sagebrush), which makes an excellent insect repellent and delightfully permeates every molecule of air; in fact we encountered few insects other than the ones crawling on the ground. The sand was an ash-grey beach sand, soft under the feet, requiring some effort to move through it; all those seasons of flooding have left their mark. Peppering the land are massive conical ash-grey termite mounds. These sand castles are often at base of trees, killing them. Watch your step to avoid the ardvark holes, dead branches on the ground still problematic with their ferocious spines, and tangled ground cover. It’s common to come upon sun-bleached bones and today we saw remnants of hippo (males fight to the death), buffalo, zebra, and warthog.

Hippo skull
Wild sage
Sunrise over the delta

By 8:30 I was feeling the African bush heat beating down on us. It was by far the hottest day of my trip. And I was still feeling queasy so this didn’t end well. My tour leader and I decided to transfer me out of the delta and back to the hotel in Maun after a check up at the local clinic to be safe. Food poisoning confirmed so I got some meds and am taking it easy; missing my friends in the group but this isn’t so bad either. Note- always get the travel insurance for trips like this!

Reflections from the bush (nothing like being down sick to make you REALLY PRESENT):

Be still and be with nature and she will reveal ever deepening layers of her music:

Birds singing everything from pops, caws, squawks, and tweets, to hoots and noises like a car engine that won’t turn over and a dog chewing on a squeaky toy

Raindrops splatting on the tent

Thunder rumbling and crackling

A hippo barking

Wind rusting leaves of the trees overhead

A lion roar at some undefined distance

Frogs seesawing their songs like a handsaw or croaking wWAow

Monkeys chattering like irritated squirrels

A snake disguising itself like a branch


Guests rustling in nearby tents

Guides padding softly around camp

I’m already feeling better and expect I’ll be back to normal tomorrow before our next adventure!

The Okavango Delta is a large low gradient alluvial fan or ‘Inland Delta’ located in north-western Botswana and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area includes permanent swamps which cover approximately 600,000 ha along with up to 1.2m ha of seasonally flooded grassland.

It is one of the very few major interior delta systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean, with a wetland system that is almost intact. One of the unique characteristics of the site is that the annual flooding from the River Okavango occurs during the dry season, with the result that the native plants and animals have synchronized their biological cycles with these seasonal rains and floods. It is an exceptional example of the interaction between climatic, hydrological and biological processes. The Okavango Delta is home to some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammal, such as the cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog, and lion.



4 responses to “Okavango Delta – 12/14-12/15/22”

  1. Linda Ward Avatar
    Linda Ward

    Oh my goodness. I hope you are feeling better.❤️ Gorgeous pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wen Avatar

      Thank you, thank you!


  2. hunbunx2 Avatar

    Oh my!!!! So glad your guide saw to it to get you medical help. Hopefully you will be able to continue to explore during your adventure tomorrow. Hope you get this comment because I have been commenting every day but having a problem posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wen Avatar

      I got it – thanks! And thanks for letting me know about the posting issue. I’ll look into it as others have had similar problems 😕


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