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Okavango Delta, Botswana

09:00 AEST Thu Jun 10 2010
Ben Dark was happy enough to leave his comfort zone when he knew he was going to the centre of Africa. He headed for the Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta, in Botswana. It is where the Okavango River, filled with water from Angola, empties into a swamp irrigating 17,000 square kilometres of the Kalahari Desert.

Botswana is a landlocked dry country, far from a coast. The delta is an oasis in an arid land with some wonderful wildlife species. Bush elephant, buffalo, hippopotamus, lechwe, blue wildebeest, giraffe, Nile crocodile, lion, cheetah, various varieties of hyena, antelope, black and white rhinoceros, zebra, baboon, warthog and more than 400 species of birds. It's wonderfully natural and free with animals coming and going as they please.

Annual rainfall is 450mm, mostly falling between December and February when temperatures are as high as 40°C with humidity up to 80 percent. Between March and May temperatures are a more comfortable 30°C and the coolest months are June to August.

Ben said Okavango Delta is a wilderness unlike any other he's seen. A half-hour flight from the town of Maun took him to Eagle Island Camp, his launch pad into the vastness of the Okavango, the river that never finds the sea.

Eagle Island Camp is on the island of Xaxaba, surrounded by Illala Palms, and overlooking a surrounding lagoon fed by the waterways of the delta.

Its 12 luxury tents with ensuite are on raised wooden decks overlooking a lagoon. They have traditional African thatched roofs, four-poster beds, mosquito netting and air-conditioning. Private viewing decks have lounges, hammocks and ceiling fans. The Fish Eagle Bar has been voted one of the most romantic in the world.

The best way to appreciate the flood plains is from the air. He did just that with safari pilot Trent Garnham who is most familiar with the land below. The waters fan into a maze of channels and islands stretching 300km.

During the 45-minute air safari you will see zebras, giraffes and of course herds of elephants. To see them from high in the early morning light is one special experience.

Botswana is the world's elephant capital and Ben met three orphaned African elephants rescued by Doug and Sandi Groves from the ghastly practice of culling. Each morning the elephants take a four hour stroll around the delta's Elephant Island. They eat, bathe and congregate with other herds.

Despite the size of the animals, particularly the bulls, they know the Groves and are protective of them. Once when Doug was threatened by an attacking lion, the elephants ran shoulder to shoulder to his aid. They dropped their heads, tucked their trunks under their chins and the lion vamoosed.

When it came to rolling out the swag, Xudum Camp in the Ranns Concession offered luxury African style. It has nine huge suites, each with plunge pool and upper viewing deck. The tented dining room and lounge areas overlook a floodplain and the bar is built in a fork of a jackal berry tree. Open fireplaces keep you snug on cool nights.

For all the latest from the 2010 FIFA World Cup, head to our hub on WWOS


The Okavango Delta in the north of Botswana.


The Africa Safari Co. has four- to six-night Botswana in Focus tours starting at $2995 per person twin share. Return charter flights from Maun, all meals and drinks and the choice of either four nights at Stanley's Camp including an elephant interaction or four nights at Xudum Camp including a helicopter excursion. Valid between October 16 and December 20, 2010.

For further information

The Africa Safari Co.
Office 1, Block D,
Illawong Shopping Village
273 Fowler Road Illawong NSW 2234
Ph: (61 2) 9541 4199
Fax: (61 2) 9532 0744

Visas: Australian nationals do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.
Electricity:220V to 240V at 50Hz.
Time zone: GMT +2.
Currency: The pula.
Telephone code: +267.

It is recommended travellers to Botswana see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. The Okavango Delta is a malaria area and necessary precautions should be taken. Other precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit

User comments
I enjoyed this episode of Africa. with reading the other viewers comments you have to take into consideration the Getaway team are out there showing us what is on offer in various locations. This air safari is a tour that the Africans enjoy sharing with there travellers. It is just showing Africa from another angle. If you have a problem with it don't do it. But this is a way in which we also research the animals because it can be too dangerous if we get down with them. I'm sure you would prefer to see them running in their natural environment than having to sedate them to make it safe for you to view. If you don't like it take it up with Africa and see what they say!!
Watching this episode last week I was shocked and saddened that the Getaway team chose to take an air safari ride. It is clear from the video footage that the helicopter flew far too close to the animals with every group fleeing in terror as soon as the helicopter came near. This represents a serious disturbance and interference with the natural wildlife that I do not believe should be promoted on this show. There are plenty of other safari parks and activities where you are able to drive around prepared tracks, observing African animals close-hand without scaring or disrupting them. I am speaking from personal experience after only recently travelling to Africa to go on safari. Getaway should have documented them rather than choosing a place where the only chance to see the wildlife was by flying. I am a regular viewer of this show but if similar activities continue to be promoted I will no longer be.
Really enjoyed the whole show on Africa. I'm particularly interested in the music you played during the Botswana segment? What is it please? Thanks
What happened to respecting the native animals? The coverage from the helicopter was entirely disrespectful to the beautiful animals that you were USING for your Getaway story. It was offensive. Not one single native animal was not spooked by the intrusive "nature" of your reporting. You should be ashamed using such low flying tactics!
just watching your story think you should watch it those animals were terrorised by the helicopter I never comment but was discussed enough to comment this time
How disgusted I was watching this part of your episode! An air safari with low flying helicopter scaring herds of animals with the noise and movement of the helicopter and a screaming presenter! Wildlife should be watched from a distance that does not intrude and most definitely not from a noisy helicopter. The animals were running away from the chopper with the presenter making jokes about running for the lions. Stupid and childish, and most of all, setting a terrible example! Shame shame!

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