A short stop in Windhoek. Just the time to walk up the main street of the Namibian capital city, the independence avenue. A small 200000-soul city we leave in the morning to head eastwards, to Botswana. Warthogs, baboons and hornbills liven up the long straight tarmac road carved in the plain. Border crossing. The authorities stamp our passports. Our admission ticket for Botswana is validated. Namibia moves away and new adventures begin. I feel a twinge of sadness : Namibia, that was really nice!
We drive for 400 km to reach the city of Maun, a launching pad to go to the Okavango delta. The Okavango, one of the few rivers which never reaches the sea. Instead of pouring into a water expanse, the river splits into a mass of branches and canals. A huge swamp spotted with myriad of islands where the African fauna lives in peace. Elephants, antelopes, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes and hippopotamuses graze in this green delta.
To organize the visit of the delta, we stay in a nice campsite called “Back to... the old bridge backpackers”. African rhythm illustrated by the motto “hakuna matata”. Smiles, laughs, rest and joie de vivre are the bricks that make up this haven of peace.
The campsite works an upstream village called “Boro”. From the village, the locals offer mokoro (traditional canoe) trip on the Okavango delta. It's rather a trunk-carved gondola – the most recent ones are coated with a resin to make it more resistant. And the helmsman uses a long stick to go forward.
We leave the campsite by boat to reach the village. Serene navigation on the peaceful waters of the delta.
when we arrived, a lot of canoes float. A rotation system avoids the crush between the different villagers. We make the acquaintance of Moralé, our gondolier and guide for the next 2 days. We load the bags and get into the mokoro. We team up with 2 other boats which we're going to spend the 2 days with. Moralé firmly pushes the bank and we leave towards the tall grass. Silence. The pole shakes the water and the vegetation opens in front of us. We mark our print in the swamp.
we put up the camp on one of these islands. We swap our wooden boat for a pair of shoes and a pair of trousers in order to venture in this bit of land abandoned to the wildlife. A hike through the African-sunkissed scrubs. Unlike the Etosha park, no waterhole was built and the animals which populate the area live in complete freedom. We come up to a group of elephants. The mother's attitude dissuades us from walking nearer. A few steps away, zebras and wildebeests live together and help at each other. The wildebeest has a very acute eyesight when the zebra shares its sense of smell to the community.
The sun sets. We gather around the fire where our guide succinctly relates the history of Botswana and its people and starts singing the national anthem. A lively evening between laughs and cultural exchanges surrounded by some noises coming from the remotest part of the savannah.
In the morning, we take back our mokoros and make our way through the aquatic plants. Neighs rise from all around us. We come out onto a small pond where big mammals splash about. A massive head adorned with two small ears float above the water. First confrontation with a hippopotamus. Suddenly, breaking the serenity of the lake, a mass appears out of the water. One of the hippopotamuses attempts to intimidate us, it shows its annoyance. Burning desire of seeing us leaving the pond it has chosen to swim with its family.
We arrive at the village and change the mokoros for the engine-powered boat. We extend the gliding on the Okavango marsh to go back to the campsite. End of our short but nice story in the delta.