For six days I had an opportunity to visit the Okavango River Safaris, a privately owned mobile safari company operating in the heart of the Okavango Delta using custom designed aluminium safari boats. A licensed professional guide and honorary wildlife officer, Jacques Conradie, runs and owns the Safaris. Jacques and the team exposed us to the natural diversity of the Okavango Delta, its breath-taking landscapes, abundant birdlife and wildlife.
About 10am on the first day, we left Maun for wildlife experience and lunch on an island that Ace (our guide) found. Maun is a town on the Thamalakane River in northern Botswana. It’s the jumping-off point for the vast inland Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush wildlife habitat during the seasonal floods – it is a home to hippos, lions, rhinos and birdlife.
The boat we travelled in was extremely comfortable and large enough to accommodate reasonable passengers. It had a large canopy and ports for charging batteries – cameras etc. Also, on board was a large cooler box filled to the brim.
Around 6pm we arrived back at our camp where Jacques, Mush and David were just finishing erecting the tents. The camp site, on the banks of the Okavango within the Moremi Game Reserve was wonderful – we only saw one boat twice (operated by Department of Water Affairs), and not another sole for the rest of our stay. Reasonable size tents, very comfy beds, outdoor loo – with a decent seat, and a shower right behind each tent.
We had our breakfasts and dinners under the open sky, while our lunch meals were set up under a gazebo. We also had a few lunches on islands, and one in the water with table and chairs – one could also swim, sit, eat or splash. Variety of cold meats dishes, salads with daily freshly baked bread, cheese and biscuits were on the menu. For dinner, we had three-course meal. The desserts were mind-blowing.
Each day would normally start with cereal and fruits, a game-walk then back to the camp for full breakfast. Thereafter, we went out on a boat and return for lunch and afternoon nap. The day would end with sunset drinks and snacks before returning to the camp for more drinks and dinner.
It was a wonderful experience to spend the days on the river, surrounded by palm trees and enormous groves of trees. The water was so clear that you could see every grain of sand, every plant and stem on the water base.
Our guide and host, Ace was not only one of the most knowledgeable guides that we have ever been out with, but also one of the best hosts we have had on similar trips. In fact, all the staff were fantastic.
The Okavango Delta covers an area of approximately 16 000 square kilometres and to experience the complete diversity of the Delta it is necessary to traverse through the heart of the Delta which is ±180km from Maun by boat. To experience, I recommend that you spend a minimum of 5 days on Safaris.