Sadly Leaving Ngala
During our last drive at Ngala we searched the far reaching corners of the property for Cheetah and Wild Dog tracks. Along the way, we saw Zebra at a huge water hole, as well as some great Hippos and one lonely Croc. We did find Wild Dog tracks – but they had moved very rapidly and left the property before we found them.
Then off to J’burg and the lovely AtholPlace hotel in Sandton. We are just relaxing & resting . . . . tomorrow ~ the Delta!
Water, Water, Everywhere
Up early today for our flight from J’Burg to Maun, Botswana. In Maun, we caught a six-seater even smaller than the last, for our trip to the Kiri airstrip, shorter and unpaved vs. our last landing spot. Usually this time of year small planes can land at the Xudum strip, but since it is currently under water, we took a short helicopter flight the rest of the way. My husband enjoyed being co-pilot for both trips.
The Maun airport is small but managed to be a hive of confusion with basically every visitor connecting to a small plane being told of issues with their luggage. Some were told their bags were too hard, some had too many bags; in our case my bad was deemed too hard on one portion, but Fred’s was perfect. It was all much ado about nothing, since, in every case, passengers proceeded without further delay.
The 20-minute flight from Maun flew under 500 feet over the Okavango Delta and was beautiful. We saw a herd of elephants playing in the water and I spotted a pair of the huge and rare Wattled Crane.
Once the chopper landed we were met and took a 6-passenger motorized skiff to the &Beyond Xudum Lodge, arriving just in time for a lovely lunch.
The Lodge was built as a semi-permanent structure, since the government does not allow any permanent structures to be built in the Delta. They’ve used a lot of retro and recycled material in creative and unusual ways. It’s very eco-chic. The scenery is similar to the Everglades, but with fresher air, lower humidity, friendlier grass and a clear view to the sandy river bottom.
Before you knew it, we were off on another game drive and this time, it really was like being on a swamp buggy ride, as we drove through water and mud during a very bouncy afternoon. When you have game drives you are touring the various islands and higher ground that makes up the Delta area. This past year was the wettest anyone can remember so many areas are still inaccessible by road. We are very remote here and there are no other groups viewing the wildlife. You will find the very occasional fishermen, period. This translates into the fact the animals are not used to being watched and we have the opportunity to observe some different behavior patterns than our prior gaming experiences.
Today we had a thrill when something began chasing a herd of Impala. The herd sounded their verbal warnings and, all together it actually sounded as if shots had been fired. And, those animals can sure run fast. Whatever was in pursuit went into the brush.
We also watched a beautiful journey of Giraffe, Saddlebilled Stork, and on the night drive back to the Lodge watched a Wild Cat hunt (incredibly like a cute house kitty), a well-hidden Genet showing only his long striped tail and Bushbabies hiding in the trees.
Our room at the Lodge is the most remote (about a ¼ mile from the Lodge) and we had a few issues due to Hyaenas chewing through our phone and electrical lines the night prior. As a result, we had no choice but to change rooms. Electricity here is run by generator and phone is merely inter-Lodge. Dinner is a lovely lantern-lit affair, with an open-air kitchen, lounge areas for drinks prior and the usual incredible food. My husband is loving the berry sorbet!
At night, instead of Lions roaring, we heard Hippos from a nearby pool of water.