Miami midnight hotel experience

Right now I’m having early morning tea at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, overlooking the lushest Africa imaginable.  Greens of every hue, broad-leaved grasses, trees forming an elevated carpet as far as the eye will see.  Africa is chortling.

Good thing Mombo, Okavango Delta / Botswana was part of the itinerary, as the game has all of Botswana to roam in right now – but somehow the Mombo contingent remains true.  We saw four leopard on the first game drive, and the rest was, well, Mombo.

It was both useful and a pleasant experience to get to know a new camp, Little Vumbura Okavango Delta / Botswana.  It’s somewhere between Mombo and Xugana on the northern edge of the Delta, yet truly on an island, since you cannot get to it, winter or summer, without traversing some water.  At the moment it’s a 30-minute game drive from the airstrip, a five-minute motorboat cruise and then a walk just inches above the water lilies along a 120 elevated walkway.  When the flood is up, there’s a different procedure.  The camp takes eight only – glorious – and uses the new generation of spacious tents (as at Makalolo/Zimbabwe). The jungle-like setting is glorious, the shallow channels and floodplains ideal for mokoro outings.  A motorboat cruise through papyrus-lined channels to the nearby deeper waters of the Monachira stream is pleasant – they do it at a sedate pace and with minimum noise pollution.  Contrary to the impression given by the Wilderness write-up, nearby Vumbura Main Camp is a good alternative as it offers exactly the same activities.  I gather from Reinhard that the game viewing is excellent in season.  I can believe it, since we saw a fair sprinkling, even Sable (!), even now, which must be just about the worst time for game viewing in the area.  Vumbura’s visitor’s book for November shows an entry of leopard, cheetah kill, lions and wild dog all witnessed by the same group.

I’ve spent five days now watching the sky, which has been more interesting than the scenery lower down.  Clouds of every description, vastly different every day.  I’m in awe of towering cumulus – even when I’m on the ground.  Another pilot and I observed a narrow but otherwise fairly respectable cumulonimbus build up in front of our eyes. We then got sidetracked for a little while.  When we got back to check on what should by now have been an incipient thunderstorm, it just wasn’t there anymore, only a few wisps. Fascinating!  Of course I can’t contemplate any of this without worrying, and would, despite all the magnificence, rather have boring, clear winter skies.  So far we’ve been lucky – only one soaked game drive at Mombo, plain sailing in the air with only the slightest dodges required.  We even got to fly over the Victoria Falls yesterday without being forced down by low cloud.  Now there’s only the home stretch to go, but that is often the trickiest, because of the late afternoon developments.  I can but hope my proverbial luck holds out.  If it comes to the worst, and we have already discussed it, we stay for another day or even prepare ourselves for an unscheduled stopover en route.  None of us is in a hurry.

 Credit Brigitte Cross