Sunday, 20 December 2009

A scenic flight unlike any other

We arrived back at the campsite at around 2pm the following day in time for a quick bite to eat and a long awaited shower. It was soon time to head to the airport in Maun where we had scenic flights booked over the Delta. Our planes were a 5 and a 7-seater Cessna; our pilots looked about 12. They were in fact 19 and 21 and were building up air time in order to become qualified pilots. Whilst young, they seemed to know what they were talking about which was somewhat reassuring given my general dislike of small planes!

There was the option to hop into the ‘crazy’ plane (with those guys who felt the need to do the dropping-out-of-the-sky charades) or the ‘tame’ plane (for those who preferred a more sedate view of the Delta): needless to say, I opted for the tame plane!

Even the tame plane was a little hairy at times as the pilot banked sharply whilst circling around in a figure-of-eight to give us the best view of the wildlife and scenery. And what a view! Herds of elephants marched in single file across the plains; hippos crazed on land in broad daylight; buffolos by the hundred were black blemishes that stretched as far as the eye could see; and, every now and then, a solitary giraffe nibbled away at an acacia.

Only by taking a flight can you appreciate the true scale of the Delta: all 18,000 square kilometers of it! Only from here can you see the intricate tendrils of the river as it splits and spreads itself out across the Kalahari, meandering its way through the reed beds. And only from above is it possible to see how heavily populated with animals the areas of land are that feed off this valuable water resource.

Whilst not a fan of small planes, I’m glad I buckled up and hit the skies over the Delta; it was the best way to end my overland tour of Africa!

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