Nov 162008
 

Makoro-land
The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta on earth. there once was a lake, which has turned into a swamp, and about 90% of Botswana’s water is here. This is the edge of a series of nature reserves that spread across northern Botswana, ending in Chobe, at the Zimbabwe border.

Here, the Okavango river splits into five “fingers” of smaller rivers that make up the delta. There are loads of wildlife here– Zebras, Giraffes, Wildebeest, Storks, Eagles, Cranes, and especially Hippos.

Hippos are incredibly cute and also quite terrifying. To explain why is to explain first what a Makoro is.

A Makoro is kind of a cross between a Punt and a canoe. It’s poled along by polers (see below) but it’s very tippy. I tried it and fell in once, but only whilst turning around in the grass.

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Hans, poling Holger and Silvia.

You take a truck (a WWII-era Daimler) to the edge of the Delta where you get into a Makoro, and then you have a very sunny (25th-ish parallel) but very relaxing Makoro ride to your camp.

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Gladman chilling before cooking– a lot.

Camping is pretty primitive– bush toilets (short-drop), spaces cleared, boiling water to drink, etc. Then you go on nature walks to see what you can see. This can be a number of things. Ours included: Hyena tracks, Hippo tracks and scat, Giraffes, Zebra, Wildebeest at 20m, baboons at 100m, and, eventually, hippos at about 10m.

Hippos are terrifying– to repeat myself. To see one showing you its teeth from about 10m away, when you’re sitting in a fibreglass makoro is quite scary– especially when you see them move through the water– fast.

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I’m big. No, really, I’m big. I have big teeth, and I will F*$@ you up. Seriously. Don’t tempt me.

They don’t really mess around. The guides– who are quite smart and educated– are rightfully terrified of them.

But they’re cool as well. And seriously impressive.

We spent most of our time in the water, and me reading Steinbeck’s East of Eden, when we weren’t taunting the hippos.

It was good. Peaceful. Quiet.

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