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I know that I am in Africa immediately, as stepping into the airport at Maun my body is immediately in shock at the sudden African heat (something a fair skinned English girl is unused to after the British winter). But boy was it lovely to be warm and see the sun shining.
This adventure could not start better, we were whisked through Maun airport and onto one of the smallest light aircraft planes I have ever been inside. It had just 5 seats, and mine was next to the pilot, affording me a magnificent view to uphold.
I merrily gazed down watching as the town of Maun disappeared from view to be replaced by the magical Delta spanning out as far as my eye could see. Looking carefully at the dots below I realised they were not dots but the glorious elephants of this region, wandering through the Delta floods below.
A cheery and happy smile greeted us at the airstrip and a quick 4×4 drive, followed by a boat ride led us to camp.
Camp is just beautiful, sublime in fact, and the tents are spacious and full of all little touches to ensure your comfort in this glorious setting. Think glamping not camping. I won’t say any more about camp as you need to see it for yourself, except that you could not wish for anything whilst there. It is a surprisingly luxurious, yet with a smooth indigenous African charm which leaves you knowing that you are in the bush living alongside nature at her finest.
Each day we had a faster ride early in the morning which would last about 4 hours, and then a slower ride in the late afternoon for about 2 hours. The evening rides give such a beautiful light that you must never leave your camera behind.
The stables are full of lovely natured horses, and during my stay I was lucky enough to ride Star, Casa and Brandberg, all of whom were pleasantly forward going, willing, happy and sure footed. It was easy to ride with confidence in such a raw and wonderful wilderness when you are mounted on such lovely kind horses.
How would I describe the riding? Fun, fun and more FUN. Bongwe (my guide) maintained the perfect balance between fast fun riding with plenty of adrenaline moments, and calmer moments of game viewing sharing his incredible knowledge of the game, animals and landscape.
I could go on and on about special moments during my stay, but I won’t say too much as I wouldn’t wish to spoil any surprises for you. However quietly wading chest deep on my horse in the golden African sunset across the floodwaters, listening to the birds and lifting my feet over my horses neck (to avoid sodden boots) is one memory I won’t forget. Another is blasting through the water, my horse at times almost seeming to jump his way through (as if he was doing grid work), whilst watching the game run alongside us at the same time (getting a soaking from the horse in front) and grinning from ear to ear!
Another moment is following a pacey jackal cross country to see what he was up to, twisting and turning across the bush in canter in our attempts not to lose sight of him. Creeping up close to a fish eagle without him flying off, watching hippos wallow and sharing my lunch with a fussy hornbill…. plus the endless laughter that accompanied these moments. These memories will stay with me forever and are priceless.
Lunches are always in the most magical settings and unexpected locations, and dinner at night time feels like a friendly, jovial supper party with your best buddies and some fantastic food.
My final ride completed before it was time to go home, and sadly making my way back to the stables for the last time, an elephant appeared out of nowhere from the bush just some 20 metres away – he raised his trunk and loudly trumpeted at us. What better way for the Okavango Delta to say goodbye to me than by fanfare, however this elephant’s ballyhoo worked and I will certainly have to return!
Sarah Dale, 9th May, 2015