In the far north of Botswana an ancient channel, created by the Linyanti fault line, lay dry for thirty years. Miraculously in 2009, the floodwaters of the Okavango Delta entered the channel – not just a trickle but a torrent. For the first time in all these barren years water from the Okavango could escape the sands of the Kalahari, flowing for 70 kms before entering the Kwando river system, then the Linyanti, then the Chobe and finally into the mighty Zambezi and on to the Indian Ocean.
The water brought life to one of the remotest, wild places in Botswana and all of Africa’s wildlife moved in.
I was fortunate to be invited to join a pioneering canoe expedition at this time and subsequently have led many a canoe safari along the length of the channel. This is my favourite safari in Botswana (apart from our horse and walking safaris of course!). It is a safari that ticks all the boxes for me – remote, wild, active, adventurous and some of the most incredible wildlife to be seen. Herd after herd of elephants coming to drink, huge herds of buffalo crashing through the waters, hippos to be avoided, rare sable and roan antelopes, giraffe watching you paddle silently past, wild dogs chasing impala and very few nights without lion serenading the camp.
But what do you do when four lionesses and five of their almost full grown cubs think they might want some time on the water?
Inquisitive and playful as only cats can be we watched as this beautiful pride checked out our canoes and tested the quality of the paddles! High quality fortunately as once the lions left us we were able to continue on our way with only a few teeth marks as signs that this incredible experience had really happened.