Jedibe Island Camp
A long-held dream was to visit the wilds of Africa on safari, a Wilderness Safari in Africa! This trip came about with my brother who asked if I would be interested in adventure travel in Africa. He had already researched a number of African Adventure Safaris, and came up with a travel plan. I said ‘yes’ to this offer immediately without thinking twice about the why or where offs at such a wonderful opportunity.
The plan was to visit three different camps on a safari tour, so we would see most animals. The first was a water camp where we were able to see hippos’, crocodiles, antelope and abundant bird life. We flew by charter from Maun. We were not sure what to expect with our accommodation but our tents were very large and comfortable with private en-suite, fly screens, and able to be zipped up securely at night.
After settling in we were in time to relax on the houseboat with wine and a snack, before cruising down the river to watch a Fish Eagle as it dove into the river to catch fish. On a nearby bank we spotted a crocodile, it gave a big splash as it plunged into the river and disappeared. That night the sky was an unbelievable blood-red color. Apparently there had been a huge herd of buffalo in the area earlier that day which had stirred up the dust. We sat around the campfire under this eerie red sky, drank red wine, got to know the other guests and listened to the sound of the Bell Frogs under the pier, and the strange rumbling grunts and sounds of the Hippo’s in the nearby swamp.
We had early morning trips in a mokoro (a wooden dug-out canoe) gliding silently and gracefully through a sea of reeds with no particular pathway, but somehow our native guides always found their way to and from, through this maze. The native guides stood at the back of the mokoro, with perfect balance poling the canoe effortlessly through the reeds. These trips were very pleasant through lagoons of delightful water lilies, the flash of a malachite kingfishers, such a beautiful color; blue cheeked Bee-eaters and other bird life, as well as tiny reed frogs (hard to spot) but the guides are very good at it.
On the river we went by motor boat, not a mokoro (as it is a very shallow canoe), and there were many crocodiles on either side of the banks, including a young juvenile.
We were pleased to be on the other side of the swamp wall when we saw the hippos, especially when one carried out his warning displays. Such an enormous mouth and such a huge creature, my heart was in my mouth, afraid the hippo might come lumbering over the bank towards us.
Late one evening we saw a lone Tsessebe, which is a large antelope. A large herd of smaller antelope, Red Lechwe appeared on the grasslands nearby. On a day walk the guide scared us half to death when unexpectedly he flushed a big wart hog out of a thicket. We saw many wart hogs on the grasslands, and they look so funny when they are running away with their tails sticking upright behind them.
We stopped to look at a large tree, fascinated by the huge fruit (like enormous sausages) hanging on long rope like stems. Our guide said it was… (you guessed it) a Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana), so-called because of the shape of the fruit hanging from it. Eaten by many species of animals including monkeys, baboons, bush pigs, etc. The fruit is a woody berry 30-100 cm long and 18cm broad, it can weigh between 5-10 kg; not a good idea to camp under this tree.
The wood of the Sausage Tree is also, apparently one of the best trees for building a mokoro canoe. It is a strong wood; it does not crack and is very insect resistant. A mokoro takes about five months to complete. It is a canoe which is four to six meters long, not very wide (30-35 cm) wide, and very shallow (30-50 cm). The poler stands in the stern with the passengers and luggage distributed along the rest of the mokoro. The mokoro canoe propelled across the water with a four meter long pole. It looks effortless but poling requires precise balance, skill and experience.
We watched as some young boys were having fun, trying to pole on the river. I found the mokoro a delightful way to travel.