12. Walking in the Delta

One thing Tony and I discovered last night is that our cabin is a long way from the community area. Indeed, about as far as the new camp gets from its center. That turns out to be about a quarter of a mile. So walk to breakfast, walk back to the cabin to clean up and grab equipment, and walk back to the docks. That’s three-quarters of a mile walking already this morning. Oops, forgot something, so by the time I hit the docks I’m already up over 1.25 miles of walking.

Oh, did I tell you we were going on a hike this morning? ;~) 

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This is one of my favorite things to do in Botswana: walk through the wilds. But first we have to navigate the channels a bit (above). We take the boats from the red pin at the right of the map (below) to the next red pin, which is the shore of a nearby island. We’re going to hike out and try to find the buffalo herd and see what’s happening on the island this morning. 

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We break into two groups, each with a guide and head out to try to find the animals.

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Unfortunately, we’re not seeing anything but prey as we walk. 

Though we eventually get to the buffalo herd, not much was happening out there that we could get into photographic range, so many of us started concentrating on birds.

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As it turned out, we did encounter a fairly rare bird, the Western Banded Snake Eagle. He’s not really an eagle; eagles have feathered legs, others are faux, e.g. the snake eagle. We were able to approach him closely while he was still sitting in a Palm tree. Yes, we caught him taking off, but frankly the images that do him the most justice are when he’s in flight. Can you tell why they call him “banded”?

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Okay, the morning amounted mostly to a long exercise session where we spent most of our time feeling like prey and didn’t get a lot of interesting shots. So back to the lodge for lunch. Afterwards, most of the group took another my favorite ways of moving through the delta: a mocorro ride. These days, everyone uses a manufacturing canoe for this, but they still drive it through the reeds using a pole.

I have to explain the map: the group took the boat out to get to the canoes (the widely spaced pins, below). Then you see the tightly packed pins of the canoe loop. Eventually they end up on the back side of the Camp Okavango island and walk across the airstrip back to the lodge:

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I took the afternoon off to work on catching up on the blog and my image downloading. So what follows is what I was told afterwards. The croc was shot on the boat trip over to the canoes. The elephant—as you’ll clearly see—was in the reeds with the canoes.

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Once again, a nice dinner is followed by more image review. Since we’ve been getting up early every morning, I’ve been trying to keep these image reviews from going too long, but the chairs are too comfortable for a few—I note that a couple of folk have gone to sleep. There was a lot of exertion today, after all. So I wrap up at 11pm even though we have a lot more to discuss and review in these sessions. We’ve got another longish day tomorrow, and it’s all new stuff to most of this group, so I want them alert and awake.

I guess the days of me going to 1 or 2 in the morning doing image reviews are over. Personally, I’m here to teach, so I suspect I’d go nonstop until I collapse. But I’ve learned that on trips of this length you really need to give everyone some real sleep time. It’s a delicate balance. There’s always more we can talk about and more to learn (for me, too). But you also learn and work better with the appropriate amount of sleep.

For me, something strange happens out in the wild. When I’m home I generally need 9-10 hours of good sleep each night to be 100% through the day. But when I’m out in the backcountry that seems to change to only 6-7 hours of sleep needed to stay at 100%. I’m not sure why the difference, but it’s been like that most of my life. 

If anyone’s interested, I’m watching an episode of Sports Night every night before going to bed on my iPad. I almost always end up sharing a room or tent with Tony. But since Tony’s usually already asleep in his bed by the time I get around to that, I have to do it with headphones. Given that I laugh out loud every now and then, it’s a good thing Tony sleeps with earplugs.

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