An oasis in the desert
The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s most magnificent anomalies. In the middle of the desert lies an 18 000 square kilometer sprawling oasis of crystal clear water supporting an abundance of wildlife.
60 000 years ago, a shifting of tectonic plates disrupted the flow of water heading eastwards and dumped 11 trillion litres of water in the middle of seeming nowhere. The result, the most miraculous wetland on the planet.
Every year water falls in the catchment area in the Angolan highlands and travels 1200km down the Cuito and Cubango Rivers, which eventually forms the Okavango River. The water flows through three countries (Angola, Namibia and lastly Botswana) where it finds itself in the 30 main channels of the Okavango Delta. The water usually arrives around April/May and fills the Delta as the autumn bush dries up. This life sustaining water is crucial for the coming winter. Then when the floodwaters have dissipated, mainly through evaporation and evapo-transpiration, the summer rains arrive, meaning that large populations of mammals, insects, birds, fish, amphibians and plants are sustained in a desert year round.
On a recent safari we explored the Delta from a fairly newly-built camp managed by Wilderness Safaris called Qorokwe, which lies in the south east of the Delta and is a large 26 000 hectare concession. The name means the place where the buffalo broke through the bush into the water. This is a local word, which refers to the density of wildlife found in the area.
Qorokwe’s diverse landscape includes scattered acacia and mopane woodlands, open seasonal and permanent floodplains and is fringed on either side by the picturesque channels and islands along the Gomoti and Santantadibe Channels.
There is something about being around wild animals that is deeply nourishing to the human spirit and in the Delta, where the density of animals is astounding, this can be felt in spadefuls. We watched mating lions as herds of elephants formed the moving backdrop and others shook towering llala palms, encouraging their fruit to the floor. In the same scene were giraffes and zebras lazily making their way across the islands interspersed with the grunts of distant buffalo and little bee eaters zipping by in a flash of yellow and green. It is the closest to the Garden of Eden we can experience on this earth.
The Delta can be explored by vehicle, on foot, in a boat or in a local dugout canoe called a mokoro. Botswana has experienced a severe drought this year and the annual floods, which travel 1000km from the catchment area of the Angolan highlands has been slow in arriving and as a result we concentrated our activities on game drives. Some may contend whether this was fortunate or not but we watched a lioness killing a young male kudu. Although not always easy to witness it’s certainly a privilege to be allowed windows like this into a wild animal’s life. We also had some amazing leopard sightings, including watching a female attempting to hunt common reedbuck.
In the course of human history, a few things have been created by mistake. From important ones such as penicillin and X-rays to the ridiculous such as the slinky. The Okavango Delta in an ineffable place. Hippos and lions call intermittently as red lechwe splash across crystal clear water channels. Elephants dust bath backlit by a setting sun that silhouettes palm trees against the horizon. A plentitude of life finds sanctuary in this unlikely oasis. The Okavango Delta may be a geological mishap but out of them all it is by far the most sublime.
“One of the most endangered phenomenon of our times is the experience of wilderness.” - Ian McCallum
Gabon is a last chance to see how the entire coast of western tropical Africa once was. It’s a magical window into long-long ago, when elephant and buffalo wandered the beaches, gorillas and chimps cavorted through the rainforest and when giant fishes ruled the waves.
Founder, Private Guide and Safari Planner
Being born the daughter of David Attenborough (it’s true but he’s probably not the one you’re thinking of) I don’t believe I ever really had much choice about what direction my life would take. I grew up in the city of Durban, South Africa but for as long as I can remember nature has called to me. Whenever I could I would escape to the forests around my home barefoot and in search of chameleons and red duiker to befriend.
And so in 2010, after completing my Journalism and Media Studies degree, I followed that calling to the wilds of Southern Africa to become a game ranger. I planned to stay for a year but it turned into ten. During that time, I worked at Phinda Private Game Reserve, Ngala Private Game Reserve and Londolozi Game Reserve, some of South Africa’s most prestigious lodges and immersed myself in the natural world. I learnt to track animals with Zulu and Shangaan trackers and spent as much time as I could on foot approaching animals with my guests. I also put my photojournalism degree to use by becoming a specialist photographic guide. I travelled to Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, India and throughout South America in search of wildlife. My greatest adventure was living in Gabon training local guides for the WWF and Smithsonian Institute, where we spent weeks at a time living like early nomads in the dense and remote coastal forests, fulfilling a life-long dream of tracking and habituating wild gorillas. Seeing how embodied and present animals are inspired me to begin practicing yoga. I am a qualified vinyasa and yin teacher and spent six months training under a Hatha master in Boulder, Colorado. I am also a certified Martha Beck life coach. With this mixture of knowledge, interests and skills, I started Wild Again to help others really experience the wild places I know and love so much. Through my specialised Wellness Safaris that incorporate yoga, meditation, mindfulness and personalised life coaching I continue to grow more conscious safaris that return people to nature and to themselves. As we re-wild ourselves we hear the earth, our common mother, again. It is only then that we can co-create with her healing.