The fingers of the Okavango Delta spread out across Botswana as if Mother Nature herself were grasping the oasis in a protective hand. Localized rainfall causes the rivers to swell and seasonal pans to appear as if from nowhere, creating a haven for countless species of wildlife to prosper. Mammals utilize the bounty of resources to nurture their newborns; newborns that are dwarfed by the towering grass and trees that offer them cover from prowling mouths. Clouds of birds arrive to feast on both the insects attracted to the damp conditions, and the flourishing fruits and seeds of the surrounding vegetation. The Delta in summer is one of the most beautiful landscapes on this planet and will humble even the most seasoned traveler. It is no wonder that The Okavango Delta has recently been named as one of the 7 natural wonders of Africa.
Completely Unique Safaris has just returned from hosting a wonderful family on a leopard tracking experience in the Khwai area of the Okavango Delta. As one of our most visited partner lodges, we were not surprised that the lodge had once again gone above and beyond the call of duty upon our arrival at the airstrip. We touched down in our privately chartered flight shortly after midday and were met by our jovial guide, Custard. A local guide with over 15 years working in the Delta, we instantly felt at ease with his softly spoken demeanour and hurried aboard our bush chariot for the short trip to the camp.
However, Custard and the concession had other ideas. At the far end of the airstrip, whilst we were still organizing bags and discussing the plan for the afternoon, Custard slowed to a halt, turned to us and said ‘welcome to the Okavango Delta.’ We looked up as one from our conversations to see a pack of 10 wild dogs basking in the shade of a tree not 20 meters from us! Chaos reigned for the next few minutes as the symphonic melody of the Delta’s avian residents was drowned out by the sounds of zips frantically being opened and closed as cameras were retrieved. The next few seconds saw a barrage of photos being taken as the dogs posed beautifully for us and even went for a frolic in one of the many puddles that littered the landscape. One of our clients was celebrating his birthday and although we had organized a few festivities at the lodge on his behalf, nothing was going to top this present!
After spending a delightful 45 minutes or so with the dogs, we decided to head onwards to the lodge so that we could indulge in some wonderful home cooked lunch, unpack and be ready for the afternoon drive. Our plans were scuppered however as we rounded a corner to find a leopardess lounging across a branch of a giant apple leaf, with a half-eaten impala carcass safely secured above her. Once again, cameras were drawn from cases like swords from their sheaths at the sound of a battle cry, and rapid bursts of DSLR fire echoed softly across the scene. The leopard however was unmoved by our incursion of her shady siesta spot and merely raised her head briefly to glare at us momentarily before returning to whatever dream she had been roused from. We left her in peace after taking in the iconic and idyllic scene for a few minutes before finally arriving at the camp about ninety minutes late, after an action packed transfer of note! The Okavango Delta is a special place during any season and just in case our fears of not seeing much game within the dense vegetation had dampened our expectations, the Delta had come out swinging!