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It was with great excitement that 6 of us departed from a cold, rainy Cape Town and headed for Zambia. Flying over Victoria Falls was one of the most spectacular sights of my life. Until that point. Little did I know what the next few days had in store.
We stayed at Royal Chundu Island Lodge for two nights, using it as our base to experience the raging white water rapids of the mighty Zambezi. With apprehension we arrived in the town of Vic Falls on the Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi where we met our guide who was going to accompany us down the river.
I think the scariest part was getting down the gorge to the rubber duck. After a few minutes of thorough instructions and test runs, we made our way to the rapids. In synchrony, we took on rapid after rapid, screaming at the top of our lungs. It felt like the waves were going to swallow us whole and never spit us out again. At the end a welcome lunch was waiting for us and our adrenalin-pumped bodies.
Royal Chundu Island Lodge
My favourite part of the trip came the next morning – the Selinda Canoe Trail.
The Selinda Spillway is in Botswana and flows from the Okavango Delta. We took a ferry across from Zambia into Botswana and then from Kasane airport we left in a small caravan plane and landed 50 minutes later at the Great Plains Conservation airstrip. They were some of the easiest border crossings I’ve ever experienced in any African country, and I’ve had many. Take a look at more photos on our Facebook Page – A Selinda Adventure
Watch the incredible video here:
Josh, our guide for the next 4 days, met us and we set off on a short game drive making our way toward the Selinda Channel where our epic adventure was to start.
We saw plenty of elephants and other game. The delta even threw some roan antelope into the mix. We arrived at the launch point, and sorted out luggage before packing it all into the canoes. Everything was superbly well-organised.
Our excellent guide Josh
The sun was already sitting close to the horizon as we set off for the first, luckily short, leg of the trip. We slipped down the channel in the last golden rays of day.
Reaching camp, we were greeted by the support team who had begun cooking dinner and pitched our tents for the night. That night we slept among the creatures of the Okavango Delta. No fences, just dome tents on the ground at biting level with EVERYTHING! Supper was scrumptious and we all made for bed fairly early.
Over the next couple of days we experienced the Okavango Delta’s Selinda Spillway like very few people ever have. The spillway has not flown in the last 30 years so the canoeing adventure is fairly new. And all the more exciting!
We had lunch on the banks of the channel – the food was incredible, and filling. I take my hat off to our cook, Dollar, who prepared everything from scratch on an open fire. After lunch we caught some zzz’s in the sun.
Then it was off on the last leg of the day to wherever the support team pitched camp for the night.
Being in a canoe on the water for 4 days brings you down to basics. No cellphone or Facebook updates or emails from the office to contend with. Although, the boss (David Ryan) was in my boat anyway.
We could properly soak it all in: the sun, silence and smells. What was particularly noticeable was the silence. There’s none of that noise from riding in a game drive vehicle; only the sound of water splashing as we navigated through the water.
A python catching some rays in a tree
Numerous water birds graced us and we floated up to a python sunning itself in a tree in the middle of the channel. Over the few days we saw giraffe, elephant, tsessebe, impala and many more creatures.
We stayed at Zarafa Camp for the last two nights of our trip. It’s an intimate eco-lodge in the Linyanti Wetlands area of Chobe, and certainly one of the most stylish lodges I’ve ever seen. Everything was so well laid-out and exceptionally furnished.
One of the highlights of the trip occurred on the last day. We were on our way to the jetty for brunch on the boat when we spotted two elephant bulls and David suggested we go have a look. Suddenly something caught our eyes and a female leopard came creeping through the open grass towards a thicket. We followed.
She kept a low profile as if she was stalking something. She paused to listen and then we saw them – a small flock of guinea fowl scratching for food. She slowly crept forward, one foot at a time and then bolted. In the blink of an eye and a cloud of dust, feathers flying, the leopard caught one fowl unawares. We forgot about our hungry tummies and gladly snapped away with this great sighting.
It’s been a dream of mine to experience the Okavango Delta since I was a small boy – never have I imagined it would be such a life changing experience. The Okavango truly delivered beyond expectation. A trip I will never forget.
NB: We can tailor-make the itinerary to suit any needs, requirements and budgets you might have, for example if you’d prefer to replace white water rafting with a different activity or add on a luxury lodge to the end of your trip. Maybe you even fancy a few nights in Cape Town? We can plan it all. So contact one of our expert travel consultants to find out more and to start planning your Africa adventure of a lifetime!
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Matt discovered a passion for writing in the six years he spent travelling abroad. He worked for a turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua, in an ice cream factory in Norway and on a camel safari in India. He was a door-to-door lightbulb-exchanger in Australia, a pub crawl guide in Amsterdam and a journalist in Colombia. Now, he writes and travels with us.
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