A small motor boat takes us from Maun up the Thamalakane river in the morning - our peek into the Okavango delta is about to begin. There are hundreds of waterlilies on the water, their white flowers open and reflected in the still water of the river. The skipper is in a good mood, and stops at every possible sight. There are many reasons to stop on the river, the many birds being one of them. We see kingfishers, fish eagles, herons, and many more birds in the trees and the sky above us. On the banks of the river, we spot cows and donkeys; not the wildlife we had expected to see. When we come to the Mokoro Station, a village where the polers of the mokoros live, someone points out a fence, partly on land and partly on water: it marks the divide between domesticated animals and the wild ones which are just around the corner. Before we start our exploration of the Okavango, we are introduced to the other staff who will be travelling with us - 6 in total.
Michael, our poler, sets out, and instead of following one of the many canals of the delta, he steers our mokoro right through the floating grass and the lilies. It turns out to be an intense and close-up introduction to the Okavango. The views are limited to the high grass around us, where we discover many small insects and birds, and flowers on the water. At times, the views widen, and we see trees on small islands, reflected in the waters so still they are perfect mirrors of the clouds above. When we arrive on the islet where we will sleep, camp is ready, and a hearty lunch is waiting for us. After some hours of relaxation, we set off in a very short mokoro ride to a bigger island, where we walk around looking for traces of animals. Surely, the aardvarks leave their marks: deep holes in the ground. Fresh droppings indicate that elephants pass by as well. We see no big game, but we do spot beautiful dragonflies, spiders, snails and other small fauna. Apart from that, seeing the sun set over the vast open landscape of the Okavango delta is a treat.
We are up early the next morning, and see the sun rise when we are in our mokoros for a short ride to a much bigger island. Soon after setting off, we spot a herd of antilopes, and while we thread through the yellowish grass, our two guides are constantly scanning the environment, using all their senses. In the distance, we see a big herd of giraffes moving graciously through the early morning Okavango landscape, accompanied by a group of zebra. One of the guides claims there are wildebeest further away, but even with my zoom lens, I cannot spot them. Sure enough: after a while, we do spot a big herd of wildebeest. The contrast of their dark bodies with the light colours of the grass makes for a great sight. We come across giant termite hills, see more zebra and wildebeest, several kinds of antilopes, and a plethora of all kinds of birds, both small and large. There are recent traces of elephants, but they are nowhere to be seen. We head back to the mokoro, leaving a wonder-world of wildlife behind.
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