Another 5am start (getting used to it on this trip) - in order to begin a 4 hour bush trek, on foot, at first light. Our guide Phillip leading and Charlie bring up the rear, we head off in single file. With yesterday's near miss on our minds, we head off and soon were being entertained by a herd of impala crossing in front of us, and another of elephants.
Soon, a tower of giraffe were joining in, and a troupe of baboons ably assisting by providing lookout from tree tops. It was one of those magical scenes of the African jungle - we were told about how these creatures rely on each other and their abilities/features (e.g. climb trees, hear/see better) to alert the others to danger. Similarly, each of them rely on birds who cry different 'alarm' signals when danger comes near. Ingenious!
Okavango Delta Classic
Back at camp after an exhausting walk, we had a few hours to kill and so improvised by trying to hit a fallen fruit into a hole into the ground. Soon enough, the game evolved into a full blown putt-putt course, with various obstacles place (including the infamous 'minus one' archway), and rules devised. The evolution culminated in a 'boys vs girls' game, with scores aggregated over the teams. After a tense few hours, the girls prevailed in a tie breaker. We had the locals involved and into it, and they were seen practicing afterward - and thus, 'bushgolf' was introduced to the people of the Okavango Delta.
Fresh water swim?
We were taken by our guides to the local swimming pool - an area scoped out prior to our arrival for hippos and crocodiles. In sweltering conditions, the swim in the cool, clean delta water was exactly what we needed. Luckily, we were careful not to have a swig of the water - by some reports, it tasted like elephant shit. Most of us managed to get onto a makoro to try paddling it - with varying degrees of success.
Our most terrifying but satisfying experience to date. Our sunset ride on the mokoros to the local 'hippo pool' had us on the brink of death as we came across a family of hippos swimming cautiously in this expanse of water. They soon began to advance to ensure the safety of their young ones, and our poler guides thought it was hilarious to antagonise the hippos by calling out hippo noises and creeping closer. With our group getting more and more nervous - we stopped off at the far bank to view the sunset over a plastic mug of fine red wine. But after getting back into the mokoros to head back to camp, we were accompanied by a hippo escort - i.e they chased us away! The polers were making loud noises and slapping the water - needless to say, we freaking out being the last of the convoy of canoes! We made our escape, and soon were mesmerised by the most calming and mindblowing event.
Just as light was fading and we had made our escape from the hippos, two male elephants slowly and gracefully crossed the canal in front of us, side by side, in almost total silence. In a magnificent contrast to the frenzy that had just passed, the elephants made their way serenely and blissfully unnaffected by 8 or so canoes making their way down the canal. The event had a calming influence on the whole group, and was the moment of our Okavango Delta experience.
Happy happy sing song
A great day was capped by an evening of singing and dancing with the locals around the camp fire. With rousing and fun renditions of local songs, dances, we took the opportunity to join in - with the 'churra churra' frog dance proving the most popular (and taking its toll on Suk's knees!).