"Can we go to Moremi?" asked the guest with the biggest camera, after I introduced myself and gave the required safety briefing.
"Sure we can, and I'm happy to go there if you insist, but it'll be a better use of your time if we just stay in this general area." I went on to tell them that we would access areas that the game drive vehicles couldn't reach, at altitudes and speeds not possible for airplanes.
Travelers do research or hear from their agents that some place is a "must see." They don't realize that the Okavango has many hidden jewels, and we have a great idea where to find the game, because we call the Delta ‘home’ and fly over it every day.
We found a herd of impala shortly after lift-off, followed by a dazzle of zebra. I made sure I kept the helicopter between the sun and the photographers to give them the best chance to get the perfect shot, whether it was the reflection of the red lechwe standing in the floodplain or the glint of sun on the wings of the saddle-billed storks soaring below us.
As soon as we touched down, Claire brought our guests chilled towels and asked them if she could get a refreshing drink for each to enjoy while the sun was setting. The Abu staff had set up a lounge, complete with a bar, sofas, and a movie screen across the pan from the helicopter. Two kettles sat on the grill over a fire, ready for the oil and popcorn. After the sun went below the horizon, each of us were handed a bag of freshly popped corn, pointed to the various salts, butters, and spices (I chose curry) and told to find a seat on the sofas. The night's feature presentation was a documentary about Abu's most famous resident, Paseka. The movie was a heart-warming story and a wonderful end to a day in the Delta.
-Shane Patrick, Helicopter Horizon pilot