Oddballs on the Okavango

Poling Along, Slowly
By Sharon Safran
  |  Gorp.com
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A two-night rendezvous in this rustic haven will set you back about $560 per person, including chalet accommodations, meals, activities, and picturesque sunsets.

Tents are available for $150 per night.

Transfers to and from the lodge are an additional charge of $120 each way. The uninhibited views of the Delta and your slightly eccentric bush pilot usually make for a story worthy of the pricey, 20-minute flights.

For more information contact Okavango Tours and Safaris Booking Agent by phone, 011-267-660220; fax, 011-267-660589; or e-mail, Okavango@info.bw.

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While it is tempting to do nothing but relax and nap, you must make at least one mokoro trip into the Delta. Be assured, your expert 'poler' will do all the work. Simply apply a generous layer of sunscreen, sit back, and be amazed. Even the most experienced birders get dizzy from constantly raising their binoculars—anxious to get a closer glimpse at the abundance of birds and waterfowl.

At any point during the year, hundreds of bird species are drawn to this buffet of delectable fish and other aquatic delicacies. Ask your poler to attach a net to the rear of your mokoro, and most likely you will have a small feast of your own by the end of the day.

Leave behind the bottled water, and simply lean over the edge of the mokoro to quench your thirst. Not only will the pristine water put any bottle of Evian to shame, but the experience of drinking from the source is a novelty for most Westerners. Just don't dangle your extremities in the water for too long, or you could lose one to a hungry crocodile!

Overnight mokoro and walking safaris are available for those searching for the ultimate, yet minimalist wilderness adventure. Setting up camp and cooking your own meals is definitely worth the serenity of the bush, and the close encounters you are sure to have with the resident wildlife. Most frequently sighted animals include elephant, red lechwe, warthog, zebra, impala, and buffalo.

Your personal guide will be more than happy to introduce you to the area's other residents, the villagers of nearby Sedibana. By this point, you will most likely be camera-happy from snapping wildlife. Try not to perpetuate stereotypical tourist behavior. Be respectful and culturally sensitive during your visit to the community.

Just a caution for the timid and/or fearless; this is the real thing! No fences prevent wildlife from taking a leisurely stroll through the camp. Be wary and take heed to the camp manager's instructions on safety. Otherwise, you may find yourself flattened by an old and indiscriminate buffalo seeking revenge against all safari hunters. While the openness of the chalets (i.e., no windows) can be quite intimidating in the evenings, be comforted to know that no tourist casualties have been recorded to date. Take the visit by a nocturnal genet as a rare treat, instead of as a threat. Just make sure to keep food out of your chalet, or you are likely to find a mischievous and destructive baboon an unwelcome guest!

Providing the perfect balance of leisure and adventure, luxury and simplicity, Oddballs is sure to satisfy all kinds. Just a warning to the indiscreet lovebirds: Most binoculars have a range exceeding 50 feet!


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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