Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Our guide Frank Mochaba(photo above)at Camp Moremi was assigned to take us halfway by boat to Xugana lodge which is a 3 hour trip. We traveled through sometimes narrow channels of permanent swamp and open waters surrounded by dense stands of Bulrush,Common reed,papyrus, and dotted with blankets of Day waterlilys and Water Chesnut along the channel fringes.
It is believed by geologists that the Okavango River once reached the sea. Tectonic movement created a series of parallel faults (Graben faults)collapsing the earth which led to the formation of the inland delta or alluvial fan.(1) The Okavango delta is one of the world's largest inland water sytems at 16,000 sq. km.
Along the way we observed many new birds and insects as the channels narrowed bringing us within close view.
The African Darter(Anhinga rufa)or locally called "Snake bird" because of its habit of swimming with only the neck and head above the water.
The Little Bee-eater fly's off its low perch on Papyrus to snatch butterfly's and other flying insects and is one of the many striking and beautiful birds seen in Africa.
The Woodland Kingfisher is a summer migrant from central Africa that doesn't fish as the name implies but rather preys on large insects and small reptiles.
At midway we were met by our next guide named "Losty". While saying farewell to Frank I caught my only glimpse of the unmistakeable Pel's Fishing Owl as it glided out of and quickly into dense canopy across the channel.
Losty slowed down when his sharp eyes caught a glimpse of something that blends in well with its background. An example is this large Crocodile floating on the waters surface.
Water Monitor is a large aquatic lizard that feeds on just about anything it can handle including crocodile eggs,frogs,crabs,etc.
The African Jacana has extremely long toes which enables it to walk on aquatic vegetation such as water lily leaves giving it the name "Jesus" bird.
We arrived at our destination on a small island greeted by the the staff of the Xugana lodge with warm smiles, moistened towels and a cool drink.
After a brief orientation we were led to our room overlooking the water where we had time to relax,write notes and take in the many sights and sounds.
That afternoon we went out on another boating excursion to look for more wildlife.
We passed through very narrow channels that are maintained by Hippos and some by the staff at the lodge.
It was a beautiful sunset on this evening and we were surprised by a special dinner setting that the host's prepared for both Kimberley and I celebrating our year of "Big" birthdays.
Our trusted guide "Losty" proved that he could dance with the best of them and ignite the urge in all of us with the help of the wonderful beat of African music.
The next day we explored the delta in the rain and visited a small island and saw the large African(Cape)Buffalo,Elephants and Vervet Monkeys.
Later in the afternoon the sun came out and we saw many more beautiful birds including this splendid Great White Egret perched in a tree along the water.
In the evening we were enthralled at the sight of several Hippopotamus keeping a close eye on us.
This Bat was determined to be a Tomb Bat (Taphonzous mauritianus) and was photographed roosting near the dining area. Other bats were observed flying out from under the eves of our room at dusk.
We walked around the lodge area before departing observing many birds and a Marsh Mongoose. This Greater Blue-eared Starling was dazziling to look at and posed briefly for this photo.
It was a brief two days at this unique setting on the waters edge of the incredible Okavango delta. We barely scratched the surface of its many wonders but
the memories will linger as long as we live.
Thanks to the dedication of all the warm and friendly staff we had a great adventure and enjoyed excellent food and accomodations.
Some of the Staff at the Xugana Lodge.(Arnold,MPHO,Obie and Candy).
References: Butchart, Duncan. 2000. Wildlife of the Okavango,
126 pgs. Struick Nature.
Sinclair,I. et.al. 2002. Birds of Southern Africa.