Botswana

Okavango

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On horseback in a water wilderness

On horseback in a water wilderness

Horses splash through the water
Horses splash through the water
RAW

Some women have a fetish for shoes; however, to my husband’s horror, my fetish has always been horses. My purchasing of horses has been somewhat curtailed in recent years, so I have developed another passion - taking horse safaris.

For the past few years I have led horse safari groups to either Botswana or Kenya. This  June,  nine of us headed off to the newly opened Motswiri Camp owned by RAW Botswana. We were seven keen riders and two ladies who decided they would only be riding in a makoro partaking of gin and tonic!

Motswiri camp stands on the banks of the Selinda Spillway  which is an  ancient watercourse that links the Okavango and the Kwando-Linyanti River drainage systems. In recent decades this has seldom filled, let alone flowed. However, in 2006 water entered the spillway from both ends and it has filled annually since.

This beautiful and remote area combines the open flood plains of the Okavango Delta with thick riverine forests. Motswiri has exclusive use of 120,000 acres of pristine African bush in the Selinda Reserve.

As we flew over the mosaic of waterways and lagoons it was obvious that the floods were higher than the same time last year.

Each morning at the break of dawn we were greeted by a cheerful voice as tea and coffee were brought to our tents. As the sun rose and the sky was lit with an array of pastel colours, the mist rose off the water in front of our tents. I scrambled to get ready and join the rest huddled around the camp fire. After a light breakfast of toast and cereal we started out on our morning ride with Johnno Beddoes, our experienced guide.

Wading the horses through the water was enjoyable, with the odd shriek when our horses started to submerge. Our adrenaline-seeking group also loved a gallop through the water.

Elephant were heard frequently and it was a delight to see them swim across the river.  We saw roan, sable and zebra. Leopard and hyena spore were prevalent and close to camp and most evenings we heard hyena cackling and whooping. After last year when I was chased on horseback by a lioness in another part of the Delta, I was relieved to know there weren’t many lion in the area, although we heard them in the distance.

Afternoon activities were optional, offering horse riding, makoro canoe trips, boat cruises or walks. We had a brilliant time during our stay at Motswiri; wine flowed and much laughter was had by all. For anyone looking to combine riding with other activities, comfortable accommodation and great guides, I recommend Motswiri.

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Okavango

Read more from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 06, Sept 2011)