Day 4 at the Okovango Delta

Either we are getting used to sleeping with the sounds of elephant and hippo eating or they both weren’t around last night (we think it was the latter). We decided not to go for an early morning drive as we had to leave at around 10am to be taken to the landing strip for our next flight to Xudum (pronounced Koo – dumb). We had a leisurely breakfast, packed up and said our goodbyes to the staff at the camp (who were excellent – we think the best we have experienced at any game lodge we have visited). We decided to take a slow ride to the landing strip and see if we could add to our bird list which was now over 100 birds. We did add one or two on route and in addition also saw another pride of Lion quite near the landing strip. We then had to clear the landing strip of game which turned out to be quite entertaining as there was a herd of giraffe (I am sure that is not the right collective noun for giraffe but can’t think what it is at the moment) on both sides of the landing strip.

The plane landed slightly earlier and after we had obtained our boarding passes and passed through security (of which there were neither) we switched places with another family who came out of the plane. The plane was a 6 seater Cessna. The luggage went underneath and we had to repack it slightly to ensure it fitted in. Then I got the seat next to the pilot (he wanted the heaviest upfront with him), and then Helen and Stephen behind us with Michael and Chloe at the back. The take off was smooth and I thought it was a fantastic 20 minute trip but when I turned around to see how the family was doing it was evident that only Stephen was enjoying it like me. Michael was as white as a sheet and looked as though he thought the plane would drop from the sky any minute and while Helen was smiling she told us later that she didn’t like the bumps and bobs that the plane did.

We did get a fantastic view of the Delta and while I didn’t see any fame from the air, Stephen saw elephant and giraffe on his side of the plane. We landed at about 11:45am at Pom Pom which is the airstrip for Xarana (sister camp of Xudum). The Xudum airstrip was under water about a month ago and had not yet been approved by the government for re-opening yet though the Xudum manager says it is now repaired. We therefore had to take a game vehicle to Xarana (about 40 minutes) and then a boat from Xarana to Xudum (another 40 minutes). The road trip took slightly longer as we ended up seeing a whole lot of birds and our ranger (Stanza) tried to spot a Pel’s Fishing Owl for us at various places. Eventually we were radioed to ask where we were as they needed the game truck for another collection. Xarana is a beautiful tented camp which (if we ever come back to the Delta), we would definitely select as a place to stay. We just had time for a quick pit stop and then we were onto the boat. 2 minutes outside of Xarana the fuel ran out and we had to switch over to the reserve tank. Unfortunately they then couldn’t get the engine going again and I had visions of someone swimming back to Xarana to get help. Fortunately they figured out where the blockage was and we were off again up top speed with Sta (our tracker) at the wheel. As he was going quite fast the water was spraying up and wetting us from time to time which was really cooling in the hot Botswana midday heat.

We arrived at Xudum at 2pm and had lunch and then we were shown to our rooms which are beautiful wooden structures with their own splash pools on the side of the Delta. You have your own viewing deck over the Delta. We met back at the lodge just after 4pm and then went on a Mokoro again with Stanza taking the kids and Sta taking Helen and myself. It was very peaceful and we were in the Mokoro for about an hour and half. Very enjoyable even in the heat and despite the insects and spider webs. We got back and had a drink and watched the sunset from the lodge and I downloaded and sent some emails. After dinner it was back to the rooms and asleep at around 10pm as we had a morning game drive again at 6am.

Cheers from the mozzie chewed Temples!

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