Oddballs Lodge Wilderness Camping - Okavango Delta
Oddballs Lodge near the south of Chief's Island in the Okavango Delta, named after the first camp manager 'Oddball'. I chose this camp as it is cheaper than most in the area, although more upscale than back in day when folks would bring their own tents. Oddballs also offers a wilderness experience -- with a personal guide we set up camp on an island away from the main lodge. Morning and evening we would track animals on foot and by mokoro (canoe). The guide did not carry a gun, instead keeping us at a safe distance, using his senses and knowledge of the land and animals. His rule was "only run if I run"
Normally the rainwater from the Angola highlands will flood the delta from May to August. My visit was during the drought of 2019. The guide had only seen water this low once in his lifetime, growing up in the village near the lodge
With many of the waterholes dry, the animals needed to stay close to the river for water. We saw elephants, giraffes, hippos, zebras, crocs, wild dogs, impalas, warthogs, baboons, monkeys, and on the fourth day a lioness. She was perched on a termite hill overlooking the field. We locked eyes for about 20 seconds then she slowly stood up and walked away. The animals also behaved differently that morning and were on guard in tightly formed packs
I enjoyed watching giraffes run. They appear to be in slow motion, a long leg big body illusion
There are many stories to be told in this area. A book has been written about close encounters the guides have experienced over the years. KG has survived a hippo flipping his mokoro twice, the key to survival is staying underwater and swimming as far as possible before coming up for air and giving away your location. In his charmful way he explains that he is always focused when he has clients, so this kind of thing would only happen in low season when he is relaxed and fishing with friends. That said the guides are highly trained and they have never lost anyone despite some close calls.
KG getting the mokoro ready in the morning
We cooked our meals over the fire at night, the lodge would bring fresh meat by jeep when running low. The more expensive Delta camp would supply a personal chef at the campsite
A mother elephant flapping her ears wide, not too happy that our campsite selection is on her normal walking route to the river
KG seemed to fear buffalo the most, we would head quickly to the trees if they ever looked at us