It was another spectacular September morning in Kasane Botswana, sitting on the deck of the Chobe Safari Lodge finishing a cup of dark fresh coffee and taking in the scenes I can never get enough of.
The Chobe River was in no hurry this time of the year and the mornings always seemed leisurely. The darters, (a cormorant like water fowl) Malachite Kingfishers and Grey Herons filled the trees while the young elephants splashed in the water under the watchful eyes of the older females.
My clients were enjoying their last game drive in the Chobe National park and I was due to fly them into the Delta in a few hours. Waiting until the last possible moment and savoring the sights, I reluctantly pulled myself away and went to the reception, made a quick call to Kasane airport, a radio call to the driver of the game vehicle to meet me at 11am at the airport and clambered into the Land Rover for the ten minute drive.
I had just completed my pre flight and fueling when I saw six excited faces making their way across the tarmac escorted by Max the ever jovial flight deck superintendent. I was looking forward to flying the twin Islander, a mid sixties high wing eight place work horse, a plane that I had spent many months building multi engine hours, a long time ago in East Africa.
The Okavango Delta is an impressive sight from the air, the world’s largest inland delta covering around 15000 square kilometers with inlets, tributaries, islands and rivers. The delta being fed by the rains from the Angola highlands and around eleven cubic kilometers arrive in one month and spread out attracting animals and bird life from the dry Kalahari making this one of the most concentrated populations of animals in Africa.
We fly low and slow over Chiefs Island the largest island in the delta at roughly seventy kilometers long and fifteen kilometers wide, the best place to view wildlife while the water is still high. We spot a large herd of elephants and I lower my altitude and perform a lazy bank so the clients can get some great aerial shots and before we cross the island we see an impressive herd of Tsessebe, a medium sized antelope and a pod of hippos near the banks.
We cross the Xo flats and follow the Xudum River in concession NG27A, as we pass Kanana Camp; I radio Pom Pom camp and let them know I will be on the ground in ten minutes. Nigel and Stephanie the camp management couple come out personally to greet us and it feels like I am home once again.
We are taken to the lodge where a luncheon feast fit for kings is laid out on the teak table under thatch; this is eagerly consumed and washed down with cold glasses of light beer.
Two hours later we are being poled down one of the waterways in makoro’s (a dug out canoe).
We seemed to have just left camp when we spotted a small herd of Lechwe (a mid sized antelope), another pod of hippos partially submerged and by the time we had returned to camp a mere two and a half hours later we had seen elephants, crocodiles, and the elusive and rarely seen cape clawless otter not to mention at least a dozen different birds including a fish eagle.
With a glass of wine on the deck of Pom Pom Camp, the sun sank below the horizon in glorious colors to end another perfect day in Africa.
Meaford resident Gary Clegg is the founder and proprietor of the company Shumba Tracks, established in 2004. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Africa, he has spent most of his professional life working in the safari industry. Gary also has a degree in Conservation and Wildlife preservation, a commercial multi engine pilot’s license and is an EMT. Gary is also fluent in a couple of local African languages. For more information, please visit his website: www.africansafariconsultant.com
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