In Botswana everyday life can be an adventure and even the most well planned safari can carry some surprises, particularly in the Green Season! When discussing your safari preparation and what to expect for the weather and wildlife movements, we use the words “usually”, “probably” and “generally speaking” a lot. It may sound vague and not particularly clear, but the only thing we can tell you for sure is that nature can be unpredictable and to travel with an open mind….as some intrepid adventurers from Australia found on their recent safari and shared with us.
The ‘green season’ of 2014/2015 was quite unusual for recent times in Botswana as we had very little rainfall, just a few scattered thunderstorms and false promises of rain barely wetting the surface. By mid March the land was disturbingly dry, water levels in the Delta were low and we were all praying for a good ‘flood’ to make up for our lack of localised rainfall.
Fortunately, when we had all but given up hope, a surprise weather system move across northern Botswana in the last few days of March and we had our annual rainfall in a week! Whilst we understand that when you are on safari rain is not much fun, this was much needed and celebrated ‘’Pula’’ and our Australian guests got caught in the middle of it!
After enjoying Victoria Falls and Chobe, our guests were scheduled to fly by light aircraft to Shinde in the Okavango Delta. However the Shinde airstrip was flooded from the sudden rainfall and for safety reasons their flight diverted to the nearby Camp Okavango. The plan was to continue onto Shinde by motorboat, approximately 45 minutes.
After an eventful flight and landing on the rain soaked airstrip, they were given ponchos and were ready to continue by motorboat to Shinde. At that point the rain decided to turn up a notch and bucket down, so it was decided that they wait out the worst of the storm at Camp Okavango for afternoon tea.
It soon became clear that the rain was not going to stop and, after a team meeting with their guide, they made the call to brave the elements and head onto Shinde, protected only by thin ponchos and a positive attitude. Their guide was highly experienced and, despite the stinging rain, dark skies and low visibility he did the impossible and navigated them safely through the Okavango. They sped through the winding channels and maze of waterways without hesitation – the boat flying along, barely hitting the water as they went so fast. Somehow they made it – saturated and shivering, but alive! Shinde welcomed them with hot tea and cookies arranged that their clothes and shoes were dried overnight (hint: bring a second pair of shoes – you never know what will happen!).
At the time it was pretty harrowing, as adventures tend to be, but we are happy to report that our Aussie guests told us that it became a highlight of their trip as it was so exciting, and that their story will live for a long time.