Everyone is always shocked when I say I like camping. Most people who know me don’t think I’d last two minutes. Most people don’t believe me, especially after my glamping experience in the Masai Mara, which barely counts as camping.
It was an early morning in July in Maun, Botswana, the temperature was 5 C and we were handed duffle bags to fill with two days worth of clothes. We filled them and then threw them on the truck and climbed up into the safari vehicle. It was still cold and I was wearing many layers as we drove towards the “buffalo gate” of the Okavango Delta, with the wind blowing at us. The sun might have been shining but we didn’t feel it.
It was clearly the dry season and the drought probably exaggerated the lack of water, as we saw bridges that we didn’t need to cross, as there was no water present. We ended the cold truck journey at the edge of the water and watched our hosts unload the truck of bags mattresses, tents, cooking equipment and everything else we needed for the two night stay.
Two of us were led to a mokoro, that had the mattresses positioned as comfy chairs for us. Our poler introduced herself as Kenny, and soon we were floating around on the delta being steered across the water, with the rest of our group and belongings in convoy. I could hear Kenny talking softly, it was surely too quiet for the poler in the next mokoro canoe to hear her, but as she wasn’t speaking English and I could hear a soft voice barely audible from the poler in front speaking, when she was silent, I deduced that they have sharp hearing and were indeed talking amongst themselves.
The journey was amazing and so peaceful, I was almost disappointed when we arrived at our destination. The team put the campsite together in no time, whilst we sat around in camp chairs in the shade.
Over the course of two days we went on bush walks, the wildlife we saw included antelope, giraffes, hippos and elephants. We went out on a mokoro boat ride to see the sunset. We even had poler lessons to see if we could steer the canoes. On our last evening our hosts sang for us and put on an amazing show. There was plenty of free time to sit around and chat.
The best part for me, was sleeping under canvas hearing the animals in the distance, or maybe they were right next to our tents. Who knew, but I wasn’t about to go out and check. This worried some of the rest of the group who had trouble sleeping nervous what was outside their tent. For me this was all part of the experience and I slept amazingly peacefully both nights.
I even coped surprisingly well with the bush toilet. They had dug a hole and put a metal frame over the top, that a real toilet seat sat on top of. As it was set away from the camp, once darkness hit we’d go in groups to keep a lookout.
It was a little dusty, but this is camping and it didn’t seem to bother me, as much as others. Maybe camping at muddy festivals had prepared me well. We had a bush shower, that I can wholeheartedly recommend, whilst the water was limited, it was hot enough and to be honest it was more about the feeling of showering in the bush than actually getting clean.
On the last day, we went for an early morning bush walk, whilst the team packed the campsite up. When we returned, it looked like we’d never been there. We reluctantly sat in the mokoros for the last time, and we were steered back to the starting point. I almost couldn’t relax on this boat journey, as every time we turned a corner I feared we’d be at the end of the journey.
When the mokoro did wash up against the bank, I thought about acting like a five year old and stomping my feet and refusing to leave.
Whilst others in the group were looking forward to hotel shower, I wished I could stay longer and perhaps I realise now I’m not quite the diva I always thought I was. This magical place I visited will always stay with me and will remain a highlight of my life experiences.