Home > Africa > A “normal” day in the Okavango Delta

A “normal” day in the Okavango Delta

Rush hour on the airstrip. A group of impalas hang out on the sandy runway.

Ask any person what they want to see on their game drive, and 90% will most likely answer “the cats”. “You have to remember that when you go home you won’t see an impala or zebra, apart from in a zoo, maybe,” points out Justin Stevens, one of the camp managers at Tubu Tree.

Getting close up and personal with Tubu Tree's "local" leopards.

But going on safari is about much more than seeing the cats, it’s about experiencing the bugs at dinner, seeing the birdlife, sitting around a campfire listing to the bush noises, having a sundowner under a Marula tree watching an African sunset. But most of all, it’s about enjoying being at one with Mother Nature without the hassle and curses of modern day life – cellphones, internet, Facebook, traffic jams, office politics, stress and daily agendas. Every day in the bush animals fight for survival, for food, to protect their young. They have much more important things to worry about than about how they look in the mirror, having the latest car or iPhone, following a rigid daily routine that’s about as flexible as an iron rod, or about what people think of them.

A safari is so much more than seeing animals, it's also about experiencing "moments" like its magnificent sunsets.

Of course, every person on safari in Africa wants to see the “Big Five” – that’s the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino – and tick them off their list.  On this trip to Africa, I learned there’s also an “Ugly Five” (the unattractive hyena, vulture, wildebeest, warthog and marabou) and the “Secret Seven”, a mainly nocturnal collection of the serval, African wild cat, porcupine, civet, spotted genet, pangolin and aardvark.

If you’ve got a leopard obsession, Tubu Tree Camp, on the Jao Concession, in Okavango, has one of the best leopard populations around. According to Johnny Mowanji, our guide, ten “non-shy” leopards have already been identified in the camp’s vicinity, making it one of the best places for leopard viewing, but this can change.“We’ve seen territorial battles and leopards are always coming and going,” he says. On the down side, because there are so many leopards, there are less lions. There was a pride of lions in the concession but as they had recently had cubs they were keeping a low profile.

No hyenas under our tent today, just this perky baboon.

According to the two camp managers, no day at Tubu Tree is ever the same. They have been “held hostage” in their tent for an hour and a half while two lions mated outside their door. And it’s not uncommon for leopards to drink out of the bird bowl at the foot of the reception area. The staff take it all in their stride but do confess to being “a little scared when lions come into the camp.” Interestingly, the Botswanans are terrified of geckos, who they believe have evil eyes, like snakes. These harmless fly- and spider-eating creatures often end up dead in the staff quarters.

By my second day in the bush, I’m confident enough to hop in and out of the truck. Johnny has assured us that as long as we stay close to the jeep or tent we are not part of the food chain. They don’t associate a jeep or tent with food, but wander around in the dark when the predators are hunting and then you might find it’s a different story.

Setting up the Bush Brunch. Visitors welcome!

After our morning game drive, we’re surprised by a “Bush Brunch”, set up under a fig tree close to the camp. The staff have laid a tablecloth and buffet and are enthusiastically frying sausages and omelettes. Well, I think, if the animals haven’t already heard the pots and pans and the banging as the table and chairs are put in place, surely, they’ll be interested in our bacon and eggs. By the time we’re finished, an hour later, we haven’t had a single four-legged visitors.

Anyone for bacon and eggs?

I’m still amazed by the lack of animal attacks on tourists in Botswana and the “non-aggressive” nature of the animals compared to their counterparts in Kenya and South Africa, for example. “It’s all about respecting the animals,” we are told several times at the camp.

A two or three-night stay per camp in the Okvango Delta is perfect. Two, from my experience at Tubu Tree, was too short as we were so busy with our game drives and activities that we didn’t have time to just hang out at the camp and relax. I would have loved a day to sit by the cute little pool, reading a book … but most importantly, instead of going out to look for the animals, to sit back and let them come to visit us in the camp.

The quaint pool area at Tubu Tree Camp, perfectly positioned for relaxed game view spotting.

If Tubu Tree Camp is not wild enough for you, there is a “hideaway” about a 10-minute drive away from the camp. It’s basically a few wooden steps leading up a tree trunk to a wooden platform. Many people book it in the search of adventure but chicken out when they see it.

 

 

 

 

It's your choice at Tubu: this super-comfortable tent ...

 

 

 

... or this adventurous "hideaway", 10 minutes from the camp?

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  1. March 4, 2011 at 8:34 am

    yeah nice

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