Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve

The Okavango Delta, to the Tsodilo Hills  and at the end of the trip to the Moremi Game Reserve, we fill the last five days of our round trip, which began at the Victoria Falls, touched Namibia and ends in Botswana.

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The Tsodilo Hills

Botswana is a very flat country due to its location around the Okavango Delta.  Therefore,  the Tsodilo Hills in the north of the Kalahari Desert are  already considered mountains.  The four mountains, the highest of which is 1489 m high, have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The San used to live here and according to their legend the largest mountain is the husband, the second largest the wife, the third highest the child and the last one the abandoned first wife of the man. A total of around 4500 rock paintings were created here, showing life and wildlife hundreds of years ago.

the entrance to the famous Tsodilo Hills

The drive there is a little adventurous because the road has many potholes, the area becomes drier and more monotonous until the hills appear in the haze.

Again, we have to pay an entrance fee before we drive the last part to the Tsodilo Hills on an even worse road to the campsite and thus to the foot of the largest mountain. Here we are welcomed by a ranger who will take us on foot to the most accessible rock paintings. You can find the whole tour here on Komoot.

some of the petroglyphs at Tsodilo Hills

It is not yet certain who exactly painted the pictures, some of which are hundreds of years old. Some scholars assume the San Bushmen, others the Egyptians, who traded here and even further south.

From the dry desert region of the Kalahari we drive back after the tour on the sandy road and come back to the Okavango Delta.

the biggest of the Tsodilo hills

Two nights we are allowed to visit an island in the Okavango.

Xaro Lodge

The fast boat takes ten minutes to bring us and our luggage from the jetty to the lodge. We drive on the Okavango, on the shore the papyrus plants are man-high. I quickly loose my bearings and hope that our boatman knows where he is going.

the open-air reception of the Xaro Lodge

At the pier we are warmly welcomed by the German owner, who runs the lodge with her husband. Here I will feel really comfortable, because the cordiality is transferred to the staff and the lovingly furnished bungalows.

Island living at Xaro Lodge

The individual houses got a bedroom,a bathroom and a terrace that sits almost on the Okavango, are far apart. We are strongly warned not to leave the grounds of the lodge alone and certainly not to walk alone in the dark from the restaurant or bar to the bungalow.

one of the tented bungalows at the Xaro Lodge

The food is so delicious in the evening, we sit for quite a while at the bar by the open fire, before one after the other is brought back to their bungalow by the staff. The hippos and crocodiles like to come ashore in the dark and are highly dangerous. Therefore, the bungalows are also built on stilts. Neither of them can overcome them.

Walk around the Island

In the morning we get up very early and one of the rangers accompanies us on a walking tour over the island. We see elephant tracks, can observe countless birds  and above all hear them singing and as a special highlight  we observe one of the very rare fish owls on a tree.  They grow up  to 60 cm and are hardly recognizable thanks to their brownish plumage.  On Komoot you´ll find the island tour, which is only possible with a ranger!

one of the rare fish owls

Finally, we see the remains of a hippo right in front of the entrance to the open breakfast room. Now we know why we shouldn’t walk alone in the dark!

Boat trip on the Okavango

Until the afternoon we can now rest and let our eyes wander over the not always so peaceful water.

From my terrace I can watch through the trees how a huge, about 5 m long crocodile fights a large fish which it got in its mouth and lets it clap on the water again and again with all its might. It looks huge and I’m glad I’m safe here…

interesting plant

The boat tour leads through the many branches of the Okavango Delta  and again and again we see water birds, large Nile crocodiles and also one or the other hippo.

The next morning we got a long drive via Maun to the

Gomoti River Lodge

The sand track consists almost exclusively of potholes and the sand and dust are terrible. A few kilometers away from the lodge we leave our minibus, because from here we can only continue with the lodge’s own jeep.

The Gomoti River Lodge is located on a floodplain of the Okavango Delta, it almost looks as if the lodge is standing on the water. Often everything has dried up at this time, but we still experience the lodge washed by water.

the entrance to Gomoti River Lodge

The individual tent huts all stand on stilts in the water and are connected by boardwalks. In the middle is the main building with the restaurant area, the bar and the large terrace with a fire pit.

We are welcomed with music, singing and dancing and get the keys to our tent huts.

Then it’s off to a mokoro tour along the lodge. The mokoros are no longer made from trees, but still look like them. The two of us sit in it and our boat leader stands in the back and pushes us through the water. It is a very calm and gentle way of floating. I can well understand that such a canoe can quietly stalk the game.

Moremi Game Reserve

Very early in the morning, everyone else leaves the lodge except me and another fellow traveler, because we are not doing so well. We enjoy the peace and quiet here, because apart from the two of us there are no guests in the lodge during the day.

The others drive a decent distance to get to the entrance. They get rewarded by many elephant encounters on their day trip. Hyenas and many other animals also come in front of their cameras.

elephants in the Okavango

The next day, the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta is back on the program. Again a long journey and already we are rewarded again with many animal sightings. Huge male elephants, zebras, baboons, giraffes, let us take photographs of them.

its a long and dusty way to Moremi
baboon mum and baby

The last river cruise in the Okavango Delta

Around noon we leave the jeep and change to a small boat similar to the boats in the Everglades in Florida. The papyrus stands above man high on the shores, how can the boatman orient himself there? We drive past lodges and are soon in one of the wide river´s arms.

at Xakanaxa the boat tour starts

Older elephant bulls stand up to their bellies in the water and eat their fill of the soft water lilies. The older elephants get, the worse their teeth get. They have six changes of teeth, then it’s over. If these teeth are also worn, they must starve. Therefore, the old animals like to eat the softer aquatic plants.

They don´t care about us at all and we can drive close up to them.

an elephant bull feeding on water lilies

Soon we look for a kind of beach where we leave the boat and have our picnic. The lodge gave us a nice picnic with bread, sausage, cheese and spaghetti Bolognese. It tastes wonderful, but some of the bulls become aware of us when they leave the water. Stefan, our guide and the boatman get restless, we pack everything up quickly and drive back by boat.

sometimes there is too much water in the Okavango and the trees drown

Flight over the Okavango Delta

After the boat tour we get back into the jeep and then we go to  the Xakanaxa runway, where a small plane is already waiting for us. 20 minutes we fly over the Okavango Delta. See herds of elephants from above, giraffes, zebras and antelopes. The closer we get to the city of Maun, the more inhabited the area becomes. No wonder that there are always encounters between the here living people and the large mammals.

a lonely elephant in the Okavango-Delta

At the airport, two jeeps are waiting for us, which take us back to the lodge. Again on the terrible sandy road. Now it’s time to say goodbye, because this is our last night of the journey, the last night in the Okavango Delta, before tomorrow we go from Maun via Johannesburg back to Frankfurt.

the desert near Maun

Goodbye Africa! We will be back soon!

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our pilot at the Okavango fligt

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two of the many guinea fowls in Moremi
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giraffe x-ing

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