Flying into the Okavango Delta is not something you forget in a hurry; I spent the whole journey entranced by the marbled mosaic below – it was like no safari flight I have ever been on. Even though in May 2019, the Delta did not flood as it has done for centuries the sight below me was still incredible. The floods, which usually come from the Angola Highlands and down the pan handle, did not in 2019… I realised I had visited the Delta in a fairly unfortunate time, though the wildlife I saw and activities I did were some of the most spoiling I have ever experienced on safari
I am going to write this trip report in a ranked sequence of my top highlights – I saw an awful lot, but here are the experiences and places which have really stuck with me… Though, they are difficult to order as I had many memorable moments during my three weeks there!
- Wild Dogs hunting at Pom Pom
Wow. I visited Pom Pom after Mombo Camp… For those who do not know the difference; Pom Pom is an authentic tented option in the Delta, and Mombo Camp is one of the most luxurious and expensive camps in Africa. I was worried my view of Pom Pom as a completely different kind of safari experience would be tainted by my previous nights at the uber-luxurious Mombo, but it turns out, I had the best stay of the entire trip here.
The staff are friendly, the camp is nice – but by god, the wildlife is extraordinary in this part of the Delta. In my first night drive, we saw everything under the sun and the nocturnal animals here are particularly good; we stumbled across serval, civet, honey badgers, genets, and all the creatures under the moon who apparently feel a magnetic connection to Pom Pom camp. Also, my guide, Ryder was by far the best safari guide I have ever had which is worth noting if you are seriously considering visiting Pom Pom. The main event of my stay at Pom Pom was about 20 minutes into a game drive when we raced back to camp to find a pack of wild dogs relaxing about 30 meters from the lodge.
Once we got there, in perfect timely poetry, the dogs began rustling into action; apparently revving each other up for dinner time. We were right and extremely lucky! Slowly but surely, and ever so eerily, the wild dogs began to form a line and crept towards the unsuspecting antelopes just in front of camp. Then, they were off; after a high-speed chase of no more than 5 minutes the pack succeed and an unfortunate Red Lechwe simply runs out of steam against these exceptional long-distance runners. What ensued after this was not for the faint hearted, though, how incredible to witness one of the rarest and most sociable group of predators on the planet do what they do best.
Click on this link to watch the video I took… Please do not watch too much if you are squeamish or do not want to see nature at its most brutal.
- Little Vumbura… Everything about it!
Well what can I say – Little Vumbura in the north to the east of the pan handle is a real treasure. It was my second stop of the trip, and I have to admit it delighted me even more than its glossier and more refined sister camp Vumbura Plains. Little Vumbura is one of the very best places to go in the Delta to guarantee water levels; even in this unheard of draught, I still managed a Mekoro ride and a fishing trip. On my Mekoro ride, I encountered a Lesser Jacana at unbelievable proximity. It was a true highlight, and apparently very unusual for them not to easily scare. We stopped on the shore for some morning coffee, and my guide taught me all about ancient and still standing tales of the mysterious Greater Honeyguide bird. I learnt how this bird would lead humans to honey, so tribes could eat, and the honeyguide prosper too. It is the only wild animal which has been known to directly have a communicative relationship with humans. My guide who grew up near the Delta pan handle, whistled to show me, and what happened but a little bird form somewhere high in the treetops whistled back a happy tune.
Back at camp, the lodge itself has an electric atmosphere; everyone is happy, content and enthralled to be out on such a little paradise island in one of the most beautiful parks in Africa. I cannot fault it.
- Sunset boat cruise at Duma Tau
Linyanti is simply beautiful in May, red leaves carve the way into camp. Watching the Linyanti river from the main area of Duma Tau is not like anything else I have ever seen on safari, and boating back to camp as the sun sets in a pink and purple haze is one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever witnesses. People say nothing is ever like an African sunset, and I would add to this that no African sunset is like a Duma Tau one! Add to this the camp fire which is set out onto the water and you have yourself the most magical of evenings. I think you just need to see the photo to agree…
- Elephants at Savuti
Savuti is a lovely friendly camp in Linyanti and the camp fire tales here were the best on my whole trip. If you like unpretentious evenings full of belly laughter then Savuti is definitely for you! Oh, and also if you love elephants then make sure you stay here. I knew Linyanti had excellent elephants, but I did not expect to spend an afternoon outside my room watching no less than 100 elephants (and still counting) in the lazy lagoon in front of my tent. It was glorious. I also saw wild dogs, here and a whole array of other species – I would recommend Linyanti any day for an Okavango Delta add on; it is beautiful!
So there you have it! I had a seriously magical time on my first visit to Botswana, and I am excited for my return… I hope my safari nostalgia has given you a bit of inspiration for the kind of experiences you are looking for in your next trip. I have so many memories of my time there that it would be impossible to reduce it into one blog post, but I hope that this tingles your safari senses a little and gets you excited for your next adventure!
Given that I spent the bulk of my tie in the Okavango Delta in its driest year on record, this did not tarnish my experience one bit. I think this shows how important it is to embrace the unexpected when it comes to nature on safari; it is all down to luck, but most importantly it is what you make of the experience.