Owning a piece of the panhandle
The notion of a houseboat on the Panhandle of the Okavango Delta may be unusual, but we did it.
Driving with our AfriFriends guide from Vic Falls through Chobe and the Caprivi Strip took us six hours. Lots of elephants, sable antelope and even a pride of lions made this a true safari.
As a newly qualified expert, I am proud to share a couple of valuable travel tips. One: make sure you have lots of water. Game viewing is thirsty work.
Two: Make sure you have enough pens. Four people times six immigration forms divided by one pen equals more time trying not to look at the immigration official and be questioned about that case of beer you have stashed.
Three: wear proper boots, not flip-flops and don`t tell anybody that you have more than one pair of foot ware. You are going to have to stick your feet (and any other foot ware) into a scary, indescribable sludge to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease. Thank god you don`t have to stick your mouth in it too!
After we passed these and other tests of African travel, we arrived at our houseboat. According to everything I`d heard, it is the most luxurious boat on this part of the river. What I hadn`t heard is that it is also the only boat on this part of the Okavango River.
Great, just us, the boat and the river. The captain cast off from the steaming shore and the day went from blistering hot to magic as we forged sturdily up the river and the cool breeze refreshed us. The Okavango River was all ours. Now what?
Well, we fished for tiger and barbel, drifted up to elephants that have come to bathe and crossed the river to look at water lilies. Hippos visited us and crocodiles reminded us that swimming was out of the question. We had cocktails as the sky turned pink and the fish eagle called. We ate. Slept with the sounds of Africa and the river. Woke to fresh mornings and coffee and started all over again.
The river was hushed, hurrying downstream almost soundlessly, giving a gurgle every now and again as it met our boat to remind us that we`re floating. Baby breezes teased the languid air and is was bliss in Africa...