Posts tagged “Camping

Poling in to the Delta

Posted on May 26, 2014

Okavango Delta, Botswana: Poling in to the Delta and camping overnight on one of the salt islands has has been one of our most memorable experiences to date. To understand the uniqueness of this trip requires understanding the uniqueness of this landscape.

The Okavango Delta is an enormous inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the Kalahari Desert. All the water reaching the Delta is ultimately evaporated and does not flow into any sea or ocean. This oasis spreads out over a 16,000 km² area, and is listed as one of the seven natural wonders of Africa.

The journey to the Delta was an adventure: we set out by 4×4 early in the morning and drove 2 hours through sand, mud and water into the last area that is accessible by vehicle. When we reached the end, we climbed a cow fence and met up with our crew on the water’s edge. From there, we got in our mokoro – a traditional dug out canoe made from the trunk of a sausage tree – and were poled through the waters of the Delta another 2 hours. We found shore on one of the salt islands – which is thought to have begun as a termite mound – and set up camp.

While on the island, we had about 5 hours of bush walking, which is a fun but fairly dangerous way of seeing the Delta’s wildlife. Our guide and head poler, M.B., gave us very specific instructions on how to stay safe – don’t talk and don’t make a move without his ok. We saw elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebra, buffalo, warthogs and wildebeests in the late afternoon and then again early in the morning. Along the way, M.B. also pointed out how the Bushmen lived on the land by using plant life and how to tell different piles of animal dung apart (see photo of him holding a cluster of impala poop pellets).

The beauty of this landscape is indescribable. Camping in the middle of nowhere surrounded by wildlife was a humbling experience, and the calm while out on the quiet water was truly beautiful. It was the quintessential back-to-nature experience and we loved it. We’re already daydreaming about ways to make it back to Botswana and specifically to the Delta for an even longer mokoro trip next time.

Spying hippos & our favorite campsites

Posted on May 17, 2014

Caprivi Strip, Namibia: We’ve loved camping in Namibia. Two of our favorite spots were Roy’s Rest Camp outside Grootfontein and Ngepi in the Popa Falls area of the Caprivi Strip.

Roy’s is owned by a cattle ranger – cattle production is one of the biggest industries in Namibia – and is artfully designed with hanging metal sculptures and kitschy details. Felt a little like it could be a funky New Mexico ranch plopped in the middle of northeastern Namibia. We loved watching the sun go down in our bush camp, and then later sitting around the cozy campfire with a glass of wine.

We set up camp for two nights at Ngepi on the Kavango River and listened to the hippos call to each other up & down the water all night long. On our sunset river trip, we spied a few of these loud mouths poking their big eyeballs out of the water.  This place was also quirky and had a sense of humor: throughout the camp are littered funny little additions like Poopa Falls, an outhouse on stilts with a view of Popa Falls.

Camping in Namibia

Posted on May 6, 2014

Windhoek, Namibia:  We picked up our 4×4 in Windhoek and drove south towards Sossusvlei. Based on what we’d learned from our camping experience in New Zealand, we thought it would be reasonable to make it 220 km on our first afternoon. We were wrong. The roads turned from paved to gravel within 20 km of leaving Windhoek, so we were slowed considerably. At twilight, we started seeing wildlife come out for a visit, so we decided to pull off and call it a night. Our campground was situated 8 km off the main ‘road’ overlooking an idyllic canyon where the only others close by were the cicadas who hummed us to sleep.

On day 2, we awoke with the rising sun at 5:30am, packed up our cozy second story tent and headed south to Sossusvlei. The path was full of kudu antelope, a few baboons, some springbok and a friendly fox. Once entering the park, we drove another 65k into the Namib-Naukluft National Park in search of some petrified trees. We didn’t realize it would be so early into our trek that we’d encounter sand driving and the need to engage the 4×4 capabilities of our truck. Thankfully, the car handled it well and we didn’t have to use the sand tracks, rope tow or shovel stowed in the back that many told us we’d inevitably need to use. Camping in Africa…so far, so good.