Having just departed Johannesburg's O R Tambo Airport, I am finally heading to Maun, gateway to the Okavango Delta. This is my first visit to the Delta and I’m so excited and not sure what to expect, but I can't wait to begin my adventure.
Having experienced the chill of a winter morning in Johannesburg, I anticipate the warmth of ‘Real African Sun’ as we start the decent to Maun.
The kindness and hospitality of Botswana’s people is overwhelming and this creates a touching first impression of this beautiful country.
I head out for Maun, once a one horse town but now a bustling and vibrant hub feeding the tourism industry with small hotels, lodges, camps and shops. The perfect stop to prepare for an adventure into the pristine wilderness of one of Southern Africa's most prestigious highlights, the Okavango Delta.
I spend the day exploring Maun before I transfer to Sitatunga Camp, where I am warmly welcomed by the new owners, who treat me to an unexpected boat cruise on the Thamalakane River, which runs through Sitatunga’s Camp Site.
Overall an authentic experience with a prize sunset, my first in this warm and magical country.
What I discovered below me while flying low over the lush plains can only be described as an emerald gem - a jigsaw puzzle of water channels, teeming with wildlife. Flying a few hundred metres above the ground I had a taste of what was to come.
My safari guide and his trusty Land Cruiser were waiting for me on a tiny dusty airstrip in the middle of nowhere. Setting off into the bush we were treated to our first safari, spotting Elephant, Antelope, Warthog and many colourful birds.
Unforgettable sounds of singing greeted us as we arrived at the Fallen Baobab Camp! To be honoured with the warm words, "we welcome you, we welcome you our guests" and being given an icy cold facecloth to wipe the day's dust from our cheeks was a refreshing greeting.
During the night a visitor came calling outside my tent. I was woken by the sound of a large beast rummaging and chewing through the bush, pausing to graze on the trees right outside my tent flap, before moving off to fresher pastures. Such a delight!
This was most definitely my favourite safari of the trip, because, whilst enjoying the early morning sun, the tiny reed frogs, the sounds of the dazzling birds and the incredibly clear water of the channels, we were privy to an unforgettable sighting... A family of elephant, oblivious to us, came marching in a row from the tallest to shortest with a baby nestled between them, intent on an early morning dip.
They entered the water a few metres ahead of us and rolled around splashing about, until we were noticed... seemingly in shocked embarrassment, the trio proceeded to trumpet very loudly, turn around and within seconds had disappeared into the bush in silent retreat.
I was taken out in a safari vehicle and spotted a variety of wonderful buck species, baboons, elephant and birds, but a really great way to experience the bush is to take a hike.
A bush walk is quite a scary experience especially when there are lions in camp, but my head guide had a rifle (just in case) so I felt quite safe. A bush walk is a great opportunity to learn about the smaller things in the wild such as animals' spoor.
This reveals quite a bit of information such as the direction the animals have walked, how old their spoor is and the difference between elephant, hippo and buffalo dung all of which were studied very carefully.
I was loath to leave the campfire on my final evening delaying the inevitable bedtime, which would bring the morning all too soon. I was lulled to sleep by the sound of lions roaring in the not too distant bush, terrifying and delightful at the same time!