Getting into the Okavango Delta is awfully expensive. A cheaper way is to fly in to Oddballs Luxury Palm Island 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. The name is ironic, see (I looked up ironic: “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, sleeping three nights under a jackalberry and three under a mangosteen. 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! (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 to Mangosteen 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).
a beautiful David Doubilet pic to show what it looks like
Days were spent birding, hiking or loafing in camp. 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. In Mangosteen camp the squirrels kept us entertained for hours.
Then we headed back reluctantly for a last night back at Oddballs. Warm showers under the open sky (see below) and ice cold beer & ginintonics and big meals that they cook for you! Sheer bloody luxury!
– And Hey! Suddenly you realise Oddballs really IS a Luxury Lodge!