This is Africa: an Okavango experience

Elephant in Chobe National Park Botswana Africa

After a fantastic Okavango Experience trip with his wife Debbie, John Watkins was inspired to write this great poem about the highs, lows and wonders of Africa…

“My arrival in Johannesburg was a good twelve hours late
And there when greeted by my wife, she was in quite a state.
Debbie said that this was different than just being down the pub,
‘I thought that you were lost somewhere, in the Tanzanian scrub.’

It all started back at Kili, with a plane that wouldn’t start.
So instead of a reunion, we were still left well apart.
For I was stranded up in Kenya, half a content away.
These things often happen here, explanation, T.I.A.

Up and packed before the dawn, we soon leave Jo’burg behind
And then it’s Africa, here we come, to see what we can find.
First camp’s Khama sanctuary, where the giant Rhinos roam.
Here we rig then roll out tents, our new homes away from home.

Soon after sunrise photos, we all start to shed our coats,
Then northwards through Botswana, past the donkeys, cows and goats.
For a while the journey’s boring, but more like a ‘Bundu Safari’,
When we reach the delta town of Maun, set beside the Kalahari.

To the magical Okavango, a unique system it would seem.
There we glided by Mokoro, to our own island in the stream,
Where we explored and swam and frolicked in the pristine waterways,
As we wiled away the hours, of two long relaxing days.

We saw Aardvark holes and termite mounds, elephant bones and poo
Reedbuck tracks and herbal plants and Zebra droppings too.
All these were on our nature walks, at dusk and again at dawn,
But when it came to actual wildlife, we were left a bit forlorn.

But on the island there was dancing, to rival any down town bar
And the voices of the singers, could be heard both near and far,
As Rose, E-man and Zero performed, with more then one encore,
In a night we’ll all remember – for now and evermore.

Our memories of the Okavango will maybe vary just a bit,
For sometimes we did have a break, from surveying tracks and shit.
Debbie sat and watched entranced, while Rosie weaved her magic,
While some attempts at the Mokoro, really were quite tragic.

Adrianna danced the Macarena and Michael snapped a frog,
The Kiwis looked unhappy, because they were running low on grog.
Still Craig and Lisa sang in Maori and Justin, his Afrikaans tongue,
Then M.C. sang Matilda, different, than it ever has been sung.

From the plane we saw the Delta, at the changing in the season,
Though Helen will recall the flight, for a totally different reason.
But expect the unexpected – and to this vast land I will say,
To all that makes you magic – a complementary – T.I.A.

We load up and hit the road again, but before the ending of the day,
Bennie once more did us proud, with some wildlife by the way.
There were Zebra by the roadside and a Njla with a calf.
The highlight though for me was – the magnificent giraffe.

We stop at Planet Boab, among a stand of the ancient trees.
You’d have to travel far and wide to find giants just like these.
Here we have tasty meal, of Justin’s Afrikaans glue and stew
And Lauren’s complementary little verse shows that she’s poetic too.

Words will simply not describe, our Chobe river cruise,
There were lots and lots of animals from which to pick and choose.
Giraffe, Hippos and crocodiles and Buffalo by the score,
Impala, lizards, Egyptian geese and I promise there were more.

But the most magical of moments, stamped forever on my brain,
Was the Elephant heard at sunset, feeding on the island plain.
We were up so close and personal that our backbones felt a shiver.
Then to finalize our evening, one herd swam across the river.

Another sing song with the ‘family’, we’ll soon leave with heavy hearts,
Where Anne sang a little song, about missing feline parts.
Then Craig got out the guitar and we sang the night away
And we went to our tent wishing, that we were going to stay.

Then, another day, other country, it is Zambia this time.
We cross the Zambezi on the barge and up the bank we climb.
As we battle through the hawkers, immigration and the rest,
Bennie shows his diplomatic skills, are up there with the best.

We have all come far to see, one of our worlds natural wonders,
So there is anticipation, when we reach the ‘Smoke that Thunders’.
So breath taking in its beauty, it soon leaves us all in awe.
Then we went out on a boozy cruise, who could ask for more.

These places I have visited, with new friends and with my wife,
Have transformed landmarks off world maps and bought geography to life.
From Kilimanjaro to Nairobi, Jo’burg and Dubai to name a few
Zambezi, Okavango, Kalahari and Vic Falls too.

This continent leaves memories, most are good and few are bad
And because it gets in to your blood, our leaving was quite sad.
Before I bid my friends goodbye, there was one thing more to say,
Folks, this is Africa, abbreviation – T.I.A.”

Photo in Botswana by Emma Klose.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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