Spring comes slowly, winter giving up its darkness and cold only slowly. You wake to sunshine and notice a tree filled with blossom one day only to find snow and wind have whipped in to snatch it all away the next. With Autumn, we feel that nip of cold on the air and smile as we reach for a jumper in the evenings. Thinking only of the good things like football games and evenings outside around the fire with friends. We fall slowly into winter and darkness.
The coming of the water into the Okavango Delta is something entirely different from these subtle season changes. The change visibly happens before your eyes in a matter of days. When we arrived, the landscape was sandy and dry. There was a river running in front of the camp but no boats out. We saw a few reedbucks run through the shallow water to higher ground and an adolescent elephant who had been left behind by the herd splashing angrily behind.
Each day the landscape changed. Roads we drove in the morning were flooded by afternoon. Termite mounds became islands. Elephants were playing in the water in front of the room. By the time we left, Jao had gone from being 100% land-based to about 50/50. Within the month, it would be 100% water-based activities - the excitement of the powerboat and the peace of the makoro giving different views.
I went to the delta thinking it was all about the birds - and there were birds aplenty including several endangered species. But we also saw lions fighting through the water and a leopard with her cubs. It was a national geographic documentary come to life.
The indiviudal cabins were luxurious - especially the outside showers looking onto the river. The food was fabulous. We especially enjoyed our dinner under the stars down by the river and the nigt in the kraal with the staff choir singing. But what really set the camp apart was the staff. Our guide had created a powerpoint dek with his own pictures including the geogrpahy and geology of the area. The managers took time to sit with us and talk about themselves and their community. It wasn't just a matter of customised service but truly personal relationship building.
I hope one day I can return to this truly special place.