Vumbura Plains Camp, stop number 3 for our lodge of flying beavers would have worked even if our trusty aircraft were wearing their water feet (floats). The Okavango Delta is an ever changing plain of water. In the rainy season, November and December, thousands of waterholes fill to over flowing but in the dry season beginning in May, the entire delta floods. The flooding is caused by water that has traveled for 5 months all the way from Angola!
At Vumbura we had the opportunity to do some water activities in addition to game drives. The makoro boats are similar to dugout canoes but just like our modern canoes, contemporary Delta makoro’s are fiberglass. Our boatman, Johaness, poled us along in the shallow water where the beautiful water lilies had just opened in the morning sun. It was very quiet and peaceful especially when compared to the diesel engines of our Land Rovers crashing through the scrub of the savannah. No big game here just the tiny little reed frogs hanging onto thin reeds swaying gently in the breeze. The males are a gorgeous pattern of red and the females a not so pretty frogish green. It seems humans are the only exception to the beautiful gender rule here in Africa!
Our next water adventure was on outboard motor boats in deeper waters for an evening ride. We sped along in big open areas where the water was so perfectly still many of us suggested that waterskiing should be added to their list of activities. The open areas gave way to narrow water ways surrounded by tall grasses and papyrus, the plant used by Egyptians to make paper. When we stop for our “sun setter” drinks, Emanng, our guide, explained the three keystone species of the Okavango Delta. The termites for constructing huge mounds that eventually become the land when the Delta floods. The hippo who creates underwater “highways” so the flood can flow easily in and out of the Delta and the Elephants who change the ecosystem as they clear large areas of trees to allow for the cycle of life to begin again.
So now we have traveled in Africa by air, by land and by water.