Getting into the Okavango Delta is awfully expensive. A cheaper way is to fly in to Oddballs Palm Island Luxury Lodge, get on a mekoro and disappear off into the wild with a guide who knows where he’s going and what he’s doing. In 1993 Aitch and I did just that, spending a night at Oddballs, where you are given a little dome tent to pitch on the hard-baked earth. You get visitors:
The name is ironic, see (“contrary to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this”). While in camp you stock up on the meagre supplies available in their shop (like potatoes, onions), add it to the 10kg you’re allowed on the high-wing Cessna 206’s and you’re away!
We enjoyed six nights out on the mekoro in the care of a wonderful man named Thaba Kamanakao. We chose to sleep three nights under a jackalberry and three under a mangosteen, minimising packing up and moving. We had little food, but Thaba provided us with the fish he caught in his gill net each night. I ate the barbel and he and Aitch the bream. Lucky me, it was delicious! (He also loved barbel, but his advisor – sangoma? – had told him he wasn’t allowed to!). The first night we were joined by Pommy doctors Louise and Richard and their guide “BT”.
When we moved camp from Jackalberry Camp to Mangosteen or Squirrel Camp we decided we needed a bath, so Thaba took us to a stunning clear lagoon, carefully checked for big things that could bite and then stood guard on the mekoro while we swam and rinsed – no soap, please! (Anyone going: You MUST take a diving mask! Next time I’ll pack some small swimming goggles and an underwater camera. The clarity of that water is awesome).
– beautiful David Doubilet pic to show what it looks like.
Days were spent birding, hiking, short mekoro trips & loafing in camp, where the squirrels kept us entertained for hours.
One night a herd of eles moved in and we lay listening to their tummy rumbles. We kept dead quiet and just peered at them in the moonlight as they had a little baby with them and we didn’t want to upset mama.
Then we headed back reluctantly for a last night back at Oddballs. Warm showers under the open sky (see below) and ice cold beer & gin’ntonics and big meals cooked for you! Sheer bloody luxury!
Showers and a pub – both with trees growing out of them!
And Hey! Suddenly you realise Oddballs really IS a Luxury Lodge!