Botswana: Okavango

Arrival at Xugana Island Lodge, in the Okavango Delta. There's not much space in the storage compartment underneath the little Cessna airplanes. We were told to bring only 12 kilograms of luggage per person, in soft-sided bags — but many tourists seemed to be ignoring the rule.

Botswana - Okavango - FlightBotswana - Okavango - Flight

Xugana Island Lodge and its water-based safaris were a big change for us after so much dryness!

Botswana - Okavango - Xugana Island LodgeBotswana - Okavango - Xugana Island LodgeBotswana - Okavango - Xugana Island LodgeBotswana - Okavango - Xugana Island Lodge - BatsBotswana - Okavango - Xugana Island Lodge - StarlingBotswana - Okavango - Xugana Island Lodge - LizardBotswana - Okavango - Xugana Island Lodge - Elephant FenceBotswana - Okavango - Xugana Island LodgeBotswana - Okavango - Xugana Island Lodge

Water Safari

The Okavango Delta had plenty of twisty channels to explore by boat.

Botswana - Okavango - PapyrusBotswana - Okavango - BoatBotswana - Okavango - Laura - Liqui FruitBotswana - Okavango - Lily padsBotswana - Okavango - Lily pad flowerBotswana - Okavango - Boat Safari

Elephants sure look big when they're in the tiny channel with you. Especially when they're angry.

Botswana - Okavango - ElephantBotswana - Okavango - ElephantBotswana - Okavango - ElephantBotswana - Okavango - Elephant

Hippopotamus

They look kind of cute, but we're told they're pretty mean.

Botswana - Okavango - HippopotamusBotswana - Okavango - HippopotamusBotswana - Okavango - Hippopotamus

Mokoro

Mokoros are African traditional hollowed-out log boats, like canoes. But these were made of fiberglass. It was nice to silently pole along the water, being in touching-distance of everything.

Botswana - Okavango - Mokoro - Geoff LauraBotswana - Okavango - MokoroBotswana - Okavango - Mokoro - FrogBotswana - Okavango - Mokoro - GeoffBotswana - Okavango - Mokoro Safari

Walking Safari

Another feature of staying at Xugana was the walking safari! It seemed pretty amazing to us, after being on many safaris protected by the metal box of our car, that we would be allowed to walk around in the wilderness! With lions. And no guns! Well, we did go walking, and we're still alive to tell the tale. Golden rule: don't run! If a lion approaches, you're fine if you don't run. If you do run, well, the lion thinks you must be prey. Apparently, people (well, full-sized adults) don't seem much like food to lions. They're unfamiliar, too big, and don't run away. And, there was plenty of other tasty lion food walking around nearby.

Botswana - Okavango - Walking SafariBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - PeopleBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - Laura - Geoff

Can you spot the lion in the grass in this photo? She's dead center, watching us from maybe 100 yards away.

Botswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - Lion in Grass

Lion food. We tried not to be between the lions and their prey.

Botswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - LechweBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - BuffaloBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - BuffaloBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - Buffalo Skull

It was nice to explore on foot, being able to get up close to things. We also spotted groups of baboons and elephants, at a safe distance. Occasionally, we heard far-off lions roaring.

Botswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - FlowerBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - Palm NutsBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - BaboonBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - BaboonBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - ElephantBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - ElephantBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - Elephant

We walked to this hyena den, with a hyena cub watching us from inside!

Botswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - Hyena den with cub insideBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - Hyena Cub

Birds of the wetlands

Botswana - Okavango - Southern Carmine Bee eaterBotswana - Okavango - BirdBotswana - Okavango - BirdBotswana - Okavango - OwlBotswana - Okavango - Walking Safari - African Green PigeonBotswana - Okavango - BirdBotswana - Okavango - Pied KingfisherBotswana - Okavango - Fish EagleBotswana - Okavango - Nests - Spectacled WeaverBotswana - Okavango - Sunset

Leaving Xugana — another tiny plane ride. It's like a narrow minivan, but the view's better!

Botswana - Okavango - Flight - GeoffBotswana - Okavango - Flight