Often guests ask us what the best time of year is to visit the Delta. An awkward question, not least because they have journeyed across the world and spent a pretty penny to arrive in this wilderness before asking it. They stare at us sidelong when we tell them the best time to see the Okavango is right now.
It’s not a politician’s response; each month of the year brings its own challenges and rewards. With the channels drying we find fewer places to pole a mokoro but greater expanses to traverse with a Land Rover. Driving out to the western boundary, the planes are prolific with large grazing herds of buffalo, zebra and wildebeest – not to mention a spectacular hippo pool. And I am affirmed of this answer even now as I sit on the front deck in camp, watching the murky, smoke-filled sky hold heavy above the tree line, noticing how a troop of baboons pilfer the grass for insects and fallen mangosteen fruit.
You see, we are in limbo; in a state of nearly and not-yet as we teeter on the edge of the rainy season.
During the final days of October we felt the first proper rains since the end of last summer. It was nothing short of dramatic, filled with hallelujahs, rainbows and lightening. The game viewing was equally as intense, as predators capitalised on the deafening thunder showers to strike unsuspecting prey. Our famous local female leopard took down a large impala ram.
And as suddenly as it began, the rain stopped. The skies cleared and in the mid-distance we could see the soft glow of bush fires. The following morning the smoke was palpable and flames visible, though still some kilometres away. The southerly winds were unnerving, however, as the bush was still dry and easily flammable. We rallied the staff and guides to keep a closer watch on the fire and monitor strategic spots of bush which might be threatening to camp should the wind change direction. Though most of the work was precautionary, the team took their task seriously, beating flames well into the night.
However, the month of October hasn’t been all high intensity and nerves-on-edge. Much of camp life has been about steadily attending to the everyday things. Let it be noted that our kitchen team has put in exceptional efforts of late, receiving a perfect score for food for the third month in a row - that’s 10 out of 10 from every guest who gave us feedback! Move over Cordon Bleu, KK and his fearless team are cooking up a storm!
So while we wait for the rains to begin in earnest, for the grasses to grow thick and lush and the impala to start giving birth, we try to keep our eyes peeled for what’s already here, remembering to take our own advice and witness every spectacular season of the Delta. Our mouths open wide, our eyes on the sky.
Newsletter by Hailey Gaunt
Photos by Tim Gaunt