It’s barely dawn and the sky is already striated with purple streaks and wispy clouds. After a night of torrential rain, the air smells wet and fresh. Animals in the delta are quickly awaking, croaking away amidst the reeds. In the water around us, I spot a pair of eyes. The creature is watching us intently, wriggling its ears as it senses our presence. It dives underwater but resurfaces minutes later, with its ears, eyes and nostrils now in full view: we are just meters away from a hippopotamus. Its chubby and clumsy demeanors can be deceiving – under that big blubber is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. It can run up to 40km/hour and kill a human being with its sheer weight.
We are gliding through the Okavango Delta in Botswana on a mokoro, a wooden dugout canoe traditionally used by locals to get around the delta. Earlier that morning, we’d set off from Maun, the gateway of Okavango, to meander through the canals and waterways in search of raw wilderness. This was one place I’d long dreamt of visiting and it definitely didn’t disappoint. What we found was pristine beauty, extreme tranquility and a tinge of authenticity – it was almost as if we’d entered a completely different planet, one that had been forgotten by the world. Here’s a video shot from my mokoro - listen to the sounds in the background and you’ll understand what I mean.
The hippo poking its head out above the water lilies…
It makes an appearance as we slowly glide by.
Disclaimer: This experience was made possible by G Adventures (as part of the Dune, Deltas and Falls tour), but all opinions expressed above are my own. Read more about my Southern Africa adventures here or follow my updates on twitter and facebook.