Central Kalahari to the Okavango Delta!

After getting to know the family that runs Dinaka, it was tough to say goodbye.  But of course we had to so we packed the truck up and headed out for Maun.   It was about a 2 and a half hour drive over deep sand tracks and rough ‘road’ but was pretty uneventful…other than Cameron freaking out after having claimed to see a black mamba along the side of the road.  I didn’t see it but he says I nearly hit it and he had the heebie jeebies for like 30 minutes – irrationally thinking it may have slithered its way into the truck and attacked him.  His description sounded pretty much just like the black mamba I saw last time so it probably was since we know they live in this area – along with puff adders, boomslang and a few other very poisonous snakes.

We arrived in Maun, dropped off the truck at the rental car company and headed to the bustling Maun International airport.  One ticket counter and maybe 2 gates.  As we walked across the tarmac towards the waiting planes, we tried to guess which one it would be. I had envisaged a tiny 4 seater tin can and wasn’t too terribly far off.  There were 9 passengers and 2 pilots though one only flew – the other guy just sat in the back and watched. Seemed a little odd? I counted only 2 spare seats … And when sitting down, the roof was just a few inches from your head.  I’ll have to admit – I had butterflies in my stomach.  It was a very smooth flight though and getting to see the Okavango delta from about 500-1000 ft up was pretty spectacular. We saw elephants, wildebeest and endless lakes and channels interconnecting through the maze of palms, sycamore figs, baobabs and other tall trees.  We landed at the Chitabe airstrip and were greeted by our &Beyond game vehicles and drivers – we would be with Steve the tracker and Gift, the driver.  About 40 minutes later we pulled up to the Sandibe lodge and were met with cool towels, ginger lemonades and many heartfelt smiles and waves.  We got the tour of the main lodge area and then were shown to our rooms to freshen up for lunch before the afternoon/evening game drive.  Wow, is this place nice!  It’s very remote, only has 8 guest houses and is just perfect.  Our chalet is the last one on the end with a thatched roof, screens posing as doors and walls, an outdoor shower and our own private viewing deck that sits on a channel where hippo and elephants tend to wander past.  Ahhhh, I could stay here a while!

The game drive didn’t disappoint either… Many new birds, antelope, wildebeest, elephants, giraffe,  lion and a big Botswana thunderstorm! The lions posed for us while we took pictures with the sunset and a rainbow in the background.   It couldn’t be much more idyllic.

At 5:30 the next morning, the wake up call of african drums came down the path and we got up to start a new day in the Delta.  During the night I heard a pack of hyena calling pretty nearby.  Kind of an eerie sound but in my opinion, not nearly as eerie as coyote. 

Sure enough, we start the game drive and not 10 minutes from camp, we found 5 hyena laying around and in a water hole after having just gorged themselves on something they were still protecting partly under the muddy water.  They rolled around like lazy dogs with big ol’ bellies.  Not far from there we found a gorgeous leopard in a tree – posing exactly as leopards are usually portrayed – splayed out across a large tree limb.

Condensing now … More lion, more ellies, more antelope, several more leopard including mama with cubs at a kill, many hippo, lots of new birds and a really cool nighttime thunderstorm with tons of vertical and horizontal lightning on the way back to camp for a gourmet candle lit dinner.

Sorry everyone … But I don’t want to come home.

Author: Keri Chmelik

I love to explore the world with my favorite person... and I'll probably take a few pictures along the way.

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