We really felt like we had arrived in Africa, when our big truck had to roll onto what looked like a hand-crafted and way to small ferry, that then brought us to the other side of a river. But the boat made it and our journey into the Okavango Delta continued, now pretty much off-road – they called that an African massage- to our camp at Jambo Junction. That was a like a resort campground with permanent tents. We finally had the sausage rolls for lunch and afterwards were scheduled for our first mokoro ride. A mokoro is a boat made out of a tree trunk and its engine is a person with a long stick to push away from the ground like in Venice. We were pretty unsure whether it was safe to bring the camera as these things were incredibly wobbly but after two minutes, we felt completely at ease with our skilled pole man and could enjoy the BEAUTIFUL ride. It’s such a peaceful way of transport, as you glide over the surface of the water almost noiselessly and sit on the same level as the water. I could have done that all day! How lovely! But we got off on an island and took a short walk with a guy named Nature, reading elephant tracks and other signs the animals left behind.
The ride back in the mokoro was even better, as we could observe some hippos that were really close by. Plus, the sun was just setting and I witnessed one of my most special sunsets. By then, we were starving again and could hardly await our dinner (potato salad, coleslaw and braaied chicken).
The next morning started with another wonderful mokoro ride until we reached another island, where we went for a longer walk. We learned more about animals and their behavior but unfortunately only saw a few birds, shit loads of elephant poo and cows. But no elephants 😦
Our pole men drove us back, where a nice brunch awaited us. Then, we had some time to relax, read, play darts (the group of my exchange student friend was there as well) until at 2.30pm it was our turn to try steering a mokoro. We were pretty sure that we would fall in but I actually found it easier than SUP to balance. Steering was a different story and there was a lot of laughter when boats would disappear in the high grass again. But I guess we had a talented group because afterwards, they let us pole ourselves to a swimming area in the delta, although that wasn’t really planned into the schedule. Our whole group came swimming, even our 70 year old grandmother, which proofed again, what an awesome group we have! By the way, that 70 year old lady did everything we did too with just as much energy as us. I can only hope that I will still be as fit and as adventurous as her, when I reach that age.
After the refreshing bath in the clear water, it was time for another sunset mokoro ride with our poler. It doesn’t get boring. To watch the sunset, we sat down on an island and then, just as we were putting the correct killer to jail, a whole group of elephants (including super cute babies) came to the water to drink. Wow, what a nice surprise! I almost missed the sunset because I was so mesmerized by them.
Unfortunately, we then had to go back before it became completely dark and when we reached the camp, our mokoro riding days were over.
For dinner we had bean soup, lamb meat, sausages and vegetables with potatoes and afterwards we played a game next to the fire under the full moon. The chance of seeing lots of stars had gone astray but at least we could find the path to our tents without a problem.
On Friday morning, it was time to pack up again and then board an army truck, that transported us to a different boat landing place. From there we took a boat through the delta for 2,5 hours. It was beautiful but freezing! So, we were glad when we finally spotted Nina and Gerhard waiting for us. We quickly made some tuna sandwiches for the road and then drove towards Maun, where the people who wanted could catch a scenic flight over the delta. The pictures showed that it was an experience worth doing but since I don’t like flying that much, I preferred walking into town to buy some supplies for the long road trips ahead and then get an iced coffee with the others who remained on the ground. They even had wifi there and I got a quick chance to talk to my family.
That night we arrived at the camp in the dark and would leave it again by 5am, so it would be a rather short night. Since a girl wanted to also have the camping experience for one night, we switched and went into her room. Unfortunately, we took the night were they had the most basic accommodation of all and I thought it was even colder than in the tent. Good that I brought my lovely warm sleeping bag this time 🙂
Dinner that night was rice with some kind of chicken stew. Very tasty once again.
I was surprised that I was able to eat breakfast at 4.30am but maybe it’s being outdoors so much. We packed some sandwiches for lunch that we could eat on the bus when we wanted because what followed was 11 hours on the road with a few toilet stops.
At least, we arrived at Stevensford reserve when the sun was still up. It was a nice place to camp and the lodges looked really good as well. We quickly set up our tents and then boarded a game drive jeep. We saw a family of warthogs (Pumba) running around and some impalas jumping. And that was it then. All the other animals seemed to have disappeared 😦 But we knew they had to be somewhere, since we saw zebras, when we were coming with the truck. We finally did see some cute dwarf mongooses and then a single giraffe we first thought was a statue because he didn’t move for at least 2min. On our way back, it was dark night and therefore, we used a spotlight to find more animals. We saw a few rabbits and also an antbear crossing the road, which apparently is quite lucky.
By the time we arrived back at the camp, I was starving and therefore glad that a hot dinner was ready. Cardi had cooked a typical South African Bobodie (yellow rice with a meat and cheese sauce, a little bit like a good nachos dip and a dessert made out of custard cream and oreos). We enjoyed that around the warming campfire and grew slightly melancholic, as this would be our last night as a group. They then even sang happy birthday for Switzerland as it was 1. August, which was quite a special thing to do 🙂
The night was quite cold but the cool thing was, that we were right next to a river again and the shower was hidden behind a tree and wood and the only toilet was also just behind a wooden fence that was open towards the river, that you could enjoy the view.
We packed up our things for the last time and soon after that, crossed back into South Africa. We had rice salad and some leftovers at a gas station rest stop for lunch and then started the last hundred kilometers back to Johannesburg. What a fantastic week we’ve had on our Victoria Falls to Johannesburg overland safari. The memories I can keep are amazing. I can fully recommend this overland tour with Nomads. All the other groups we’ve met along the way seemed in high spirits as well. Maybe it’s just the same kind of people who decides to go on a safari in Africa. Or maybe, we were just really lucky, to have been thrown together with 18 really like minded people, who have made even the long hours on the truck really agreeable.