A heavenly view of the delta

After the previous day’s “up close and personal” view of the Okavango Delta, since it was W’s birthday, we treated him (and ourselves!) to a very different experience: a flight over the Delta in a small plane. We’d bought the tickets the day before, so during the morning we drove to the airport to check in for our flight from Maun to … Maun.

Even for such a short flight, where the origin and destination were the same, we went through all the usual airport stuff – getting boarding passes, passing through security (no sharp items allowed in our stuff) and waiting in the boarding gate area until our flight was called. We were then ferried with a minibus to our aircraft and pilot, but they appeared to be the wrong ones, and after some phone calls by the driver we were eventually delivered to the correct aeroplane and pilot.

It might look unlikely, but we did all four fit into this small aircraft, along with the pilot, of course.

Since W was the Birthday Boy, he was allocated the “First Class” seat (with the best view), next to the pilot, a young lady from New Zealand. He promised not to touch any buttons, other than on his own phone.

First Class seating on Air Shakawe

The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world and, believe it or not, is served by one of the busiest airports of the world. At least if you measure it in terms of numbers of take-offs and landings. (Or at least, this is what our pilot claimed.) Every day, there are many short flights (like the one we were on) and also lots of chartered flights to and from various lodges. Our own flight was with Air Shakawe, have a look at their website if you are interested in doing the same we did, it’s highly recommended!

Maun International Airport, with its flock of birds parked towards the right.

The flight provided very panoramic views over a part of the Delta, with various animals spotted from time to time – elephants, hippo’s, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, even a crocodile or two. The pilot explained that she was not allowed to fly lower than a specific height, so as to avoid distressing or disturbing the animals. (Flying too low would have distressed her passengers too, I must add!)

I can’t really do justice to all of this with a few photographs, but the following pictures should at least provide an impression.

This overview clearly shows the areas that should be islands (populated with trees and longer grass) and the darker areas, that should already have started to flood at this time of the year, but it was a very dry year
This “island” might look empty, but look at the many animal tracks leading to and from it
Some areas had started to flood and you can see the network formed by animal tracks to (and through) the water
A few elephants had been enjoying the water in this little channel
A herd of elephants on their way to somewhere, maybe to water. Yes, you need to look closely, or enlarge the image, or just trust me.
Just a thought – what is the use of a tiny “Emergency Exit” like this when you are hundreds of feet in the air?

The space in the aircraft was not very … spacious, but we all managed to fit in. The rear seat was the smallest, and for that reason our smallest person was selected to sit there. Anyway, we did spend all our time looking at the views outside, the limited space inside was not an issue.

Confirmation that it was an extremely enjoyable experience for all of us. Looks like W enjoyed a pretty special birthday!

After Air Shakawe delivered us safely back onto the ground, we returned to the campsite, packed up and departed towards our next campsite, in the wilderness adjacent to the Moremi Game Reserve. But that’s a story for the next time!

6 thoughts on “A heavenly view of the delta

  1. Another fun blog to read…. though some photos it is necessary to use a lot of imagination to see or identify the animals you mention… should you do more scenic flights (like the VIP’s you are) then maybe a camera with larger lenses is a good idea 🙂

    One thing is sure… no need to worry about bumping into a hippo while so high up.


    1. Yes, the views from the plane were incredible, indeed. But the on-the-ground close encounters even more so. Some of these coming in upcoming episodes!


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