Riding in the delta


RidingDelta-iStock_000027144191Brian Jackman describes the experience of exploring Botswana’s Okavango Delta on elephant-back

At Abu’s Camp in the Okavango you can enjoy the rare pleasure of exploring the Delta on elephant back. There, released from the tyranny of roads, you can go where you please, fording watercourses, crossing floodplains, eating up the distance at a tireless 5kph.

An elephant, you’ll discover, is the perfect all terrain safari vehicle, eco-friendly to a fault and possessed of awesome power. Furthermore, lounging three metres above the ground in a padded howdah as comfortable as a club armchair gives you get a novel perspective on the bush. Looking down into the amber floodwaters you’ll see quick, darting bream, and tiny frogs like Faberge jewels clinging to the reed stems.

But the greatest joy of all is to walk with the elephants, following in their giant footsteps amid a forest of pillared legs and flapping ears. Only then do you sense what it might feel like to be an elephant, and to be accepted with such tolerance into their company is to come tantalisingly close to bridging the gap between us and the rest of the animal world.