Our first morning drive was a worthy introduction to this incredible park. As darkness gave way to dawn, Botswana’s chameleon light makes for a shock of beauty all through the day. Alone on the road, we stopped to follow the gaze of statuesque impala. A single wild dog snapped the serenity into a boiling pot of dust, snorts, and chaos. We followed the dogs until they disappeared, leaving us in a slow-reveal of exquisite, changing landscapes.
We followed the rolling forms of badgers as they waded through the sandy roads, shifting gear to disappear into the grass beyond. We explored forest knolls, looking for wildlife hiding from the heat. We drove through sweeping, flat grasslands flanked by trees that looked like they could be as old as Africa itself. Great, golden grasses stood to motionless attention until hushed chain messages were passed through with the rustle of the wind – metronomic elephant ears keeping time.
In my mind, I had a satellite view of where we were. The famous capillaried cartography of the Okavango Delta is well-known as one of the most famous watercourses in the world – and a true wilderness area. This is where land and legend converge – and I was constantly trying to compute the enormity of the landscape with the immensity of this water system. The limitation of legs has never been felt more acutely. If only to be a bird. If only to be a fish.
We pulled up to a waterside hide, hippo paths bleeding the edges of the shore in sky-captured colours. A pair of lechwe watched in knee-deep, rigid uncertainty. Across the water, a lion roar echoed in the shadowy canopy of a forest, walking the waterway – a loud, invisible phantom.