This month we’d like to pay homage to our travellers. Our younger visitors have been especially impressive -- kids like Scott and Eli from Washington D.C., who can return from a four-hour game drive energised and utterly thrilled to have seen 30 new species of birds! Or others like Georgia from Johannesburg, who study their guidebooks and scrutinise every track they come across and, by the end of their stay, can confidently identify each spoor.
It seems more families are traveling to the Delta with the motive to not only have a memorable holiday but to also cultivate inspiring, experiential learning. What the kids have been quick to learn, often we adults need to be reminded of: knowing is no substitute for experiencing, and it’s not nearly as fun.
And experiences in the bush are rarely justly imparted. After spending several days viewing animals and collecting first-hand knowledge of a place, often guests leave us with the same remark: “We have so many pictures from this trip and yet we know we won’t be able to tell people how it really was to be here.”
Each person’s moment of rapture has a different origin. For John it was staring at a starry sky on a moonless night. Viola was enchanted by the sunsets -- the changing colours against the palm tree silhouettes. Dominique couldn’t get enough of the night sounds -- the reed frogs, fruit bats and Afrcan scops-owls chorusing.
If it’s any solace, it doesn’t get easier for those of us living here to express the awe-filled encounters we have. We fear we sound flippant or blasé if, for instance, we relate how we saw the same leopard 19 days out of the month -- somehow a statistic fails to convey the astonishing nature of each encounter. This leopard we have watched from the time he was a cub, wrestling and roughhousing with his sister and now he’s taking down sizable kudu and impala.
In a way it’s a wonder anyone leaves home any more when they can see it all from the ease and comfort (and at the relative bargain) of their own home. You can read books on the Okavango Delta, watch documentaries and dedicated wildlife channels, and yet, with all the knowledge of the world and its varied parts, still the desire persists to go and see for oneself.