Thursday, June 3, 2010

Up and downs to Botswana

Making connections on domestic airlines here can be frustrating and so annoying..........in Africa, flying seems to run like a well-oiled cog and any interruptions to best-laid plans are handled easily and with broad smiles.

The last sentence in my journal for May 15 is - "All in all - heaven on earth".

Botswana is landlocked.  The country is predominately desert with the exception of the eastern regions where the lush abundance of water and wetlands forms a stunning contrast with the dry Kalahari Desert.  In the depths of the desert is the Okavango Delta, the jewel of the Kalahari, one of Africa's most incredible wildlife and wilderness sanctuaries.

 2-1/4 hr. Air Botswana flight from Jo-Burg, South Africa to Maun, Botswana.


At that small airport we boarded an even smaller 12-seater plane.  First stop was Chitabe airstrip to drop two passengers, then on to Vumbura Plains, our first Wilderness Safari camp.


The lushness of the Okavango Delta is easy to view from above.  While much of the land may appear flat and monotonous, it's a region of great diversity and to the trained eye islands, tree lines, river bends and waterholes record the evolution of this dynamic ecosystem and form landmarks by which to navigate.



The bush airstrip appears as a tiny Band-aid in the middle of nowhere and on landing there is nothing but this!


We gals gingerly clambered out of the little plane, followed by the pile of duffel bags, and were escorted to a waiting Land Rover - dangerous to stand around anywhere in the bush, especially near hot airstrips which are magnets for wildlife on the hunt for a meal!!  While sitting there in the beautiful afternoon sun, a ranger explained that we did not land at our camp's airstrip as it was under water due to the delta's flooding!  "Oh yeah, so we are driving there right?"  Wrong, the road, if there was one, was too treacherous due to the flooding also. 

"WHAT TIME DID YOU SAY OUR HELICOPTER WILL ARRIVE?"


One thing I always stated was that I would never fly in a helicopter!  The thoughts of those sightseeing tours over New York City and the snow-capped Alaskan mountains scared me to death..........knowing how they can plummet to the earth like rocks.  I fear for local radio/TV traffic reporting choppers, and all our brave military pilots flying those huge birds over my house on the way to our airport.

Amazing how you can 'eat your words' when there's no alternative.  Annie was an angel who dropped out of the clear blue African sky.  Somehow, she just looked like the perfect chopper pilot, so I climbed in full of confidence knowing it would be a perfectly safe and awesome experience. 

 
Never say never!

The four of us donned the headphones, settled in, waved goodbye to the pile of duffels on the ground which would have to come on another flight due to weight allowance. Enjoyed flying at an altitude allowing close-up views of the delta plain as we headed to camp after a long day of ups and downs, literally!


Arrival at our first camp, Vumbura Plains, coming up soon.....complete with scented towels for freshening up for afternoon tea!

12 comments:

  1. You are very brave1 What an incredible journey you have had, so many memories I'm sure.

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  2. Oh how exciting! I love how you just went with the flow. I would be in a panic about the helicoptor and that my worldly goods were being left behind - having visions of spending 3 weeks in the bush without a change of clothes!

    Your pictures are wonderful and I can't wait to hear what happens next.
    Hugs,
    Penny

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  3. OH MY WORD!! What a fun way to start things off!

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  4. Those little planes are quite an experience aren't they? My daughter was frightened to death, I loved it because you could see so much from the lower level that they fly at. Never done helicopters though, that must have been quite something.

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  5. This is so nice to see your trip as I know I will never go . Thank You I will read the trip if you post Laura Q

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  6. I'm proud of you and your courage! I've never been on a helicopter, but I won't say I never will...those words, you know.

    Just the pictures on your header (are those yours?) are breathtaking - I can't wait for more.

    xoxo
    Deborah

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  7. Helicopters are a little scary, but I have been in one before that was one of those bubble ones! The landscape in that area looks amazing from the sky, but once on the ground is so totally different. At least they had rain earlier even though it washed out several areas it is better than a drought. Can't wait to see what you present next!
    Take Care!
    Ulrike

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  8. Oh Mary, this is more exciting than reading a good book! I love the pictures and your commentary. Keep it coming:) thanks, hugs to ya, Mary Ann

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  9. Wow! Just the arrival is a great adventure. Now I must wait for more? Tomorrow, I hope.

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  10. Oh how amazing! The photos are great and the trip looked amazing...

    Blessings..
    xoxo Gert

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  11. Love the photo of the river running through the greenery!

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  12. Wow-that land looks so incredible from up above. I've been in a helecoptor several times. I was a little tense but I loved it.

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