In mid-March 1992, I had the chance of visiting a tiny village in the Okavango Delta called Ditsiping when I followed American, Doug Maher and his son, Terry (9) to see Gai, Doug’s Motswana wife, Terry’s mum, who was staying there for a few days. Ditsiping lies in the Santantadibe River area. That river also feeds into the Thamalakane, north-east of Chief’s Island.
After lunch with Gai at her camp there, we went to drop off three tourist who were about to set off on a mokoro trip into the Delta. Taking a local man called Jet with us as a guide, Terry and I went for a drive along the Santantadibe to where men were carving a mokoro out of a Moporoto (sausage tree, Kigelia africana), which they told me is considered best for the purpose.
Other trees used were Marula (Sclerocarya birrea), Mokutshumo (Jackal berry, Diospyros mespiliformis), Mochaba (fig) and Mopôrôtô ( rain-tree, Lonchocarpus capassa). However, tree-huggers were encouraging the import of subsidised glass-fibre canoes, so fewer of the huge trees were used, and thus were spared.
A week later found a Sunday picnic group of Basil Read Construction friends retracing these steps to explore the same area, looking for a lake on the Santantadibe called Qoroqwe. However, a wrong turn found us traipsing over Chief’s Island where we got to the Boro River opposite Xaxaba Camp. We beat a hasty retreat as we were in Moremi Game Reserve without permission, but it was worth the game viewing, seeing buffalo, giraffe, kudu, tsessebe, warthog, letchwe and a lot more.
Rain that had been threatening all day caught up with us as we neared the crossing of the Boro near Maun where the Yellow Submarine got well and truly stuck. Keith Spackman went off to get help, returning with both Adie de Koning and John Riley, to pull me out. They found Gavin Allwright, Bradley du Plooy and me involved in a mud-fight.
Getting lost can be great fun as long as you have beer and don’t care.