Ikoga Lagoon was then, in 1992, a little known lagoon on the Okavango Panhandle. Borrowing a trailer to carry my boat, Sheila and I decided to take her brother, Tom Maling, there for his long-weekend visit. We had arranged for him to come to Maun on the flight that would come up empty to fetch Basil Read personnel for their monthly home flight to South Africa.
Keith Spackman in his own vehicle, with his friend, Chris Morrissey, joined us. After the four hour trip via Sehithwa, we turned off to Ikoga village, a little place of about 400 souls, then, including the home of one of my survey assistants, Rogers Shoni, who came along with us. From there it was a short sand-track drive to the lake side where we set up camp just as it was getting dark.
The two fishermen whom we encountered there, returned to their village and left us to marvel at the peaceful, beautiful lagoon on our own. The sunrise over the water the next morning was indescribable. Launching my boat, we explored and fished. Keith paddled about in his slim canoe and had to be rescued when he capsized trying to retrieve one of our fishing lures from the reeds. The main lagoon is about six hundred metres long by three hundred wide with a one kilometre channel off to the east that with some short blind forks, petered out in the swamp. There was no navigable channel to connect us to the Okavango River.
Keith and Chris left us on Thursday 1 October to go and find and explore Drotski’s caves in the Kwihabe Valley, out in the Kalahari dune-veld.
After some exploring overland, we found a spot to re-launch the boat into the main channel the next day. As we passed Ikoga Fishing Camp, we saw Mike Bullock, one of the owners of Aliboats, the company in Maun that had built my boat. We did some fishing in a small barbel run where I lost tackle to something fast and brutal, probably a tiger-fish, but I didn’t even see it. Just exploring, bird-watching and drinking copious amounts of beer made the trip a fantastic one. We left the boat at the launch point and went back to our camp at the lagoon.
The following day we explored the Okavango downstream as far as the Seronga Channel where we walked into that little village on the northern bank. There was a store, a school, some admin buildings, some mud huts and not much else, but the folk were friendly.
On the Sunday, we got Tom back to Maun in time to catch his flight back to Johannesburg.
We made several trips to Ikoga with my boat. The local headman even agreed to my request for a plot on the lake-side, but the Tawana Landboard refused. It was a nice little dream while it lasted. I understand that there is now a tourist camp on the same spot!
Mentioning Rogers Shoni: he was to work for me, on and off, as my survey assistant at Basil Read as well as later when I was Site Agent building Maun Secondary School. He was a good-looking man and had a way with the girls, but was regularly off to see the doctor about trouble with what he called his Number Twenty-One Finger. He got quite strange after a few years, even threatening me with a panga after pretending that he had not received his pay packet and demanding another one. Sadly, he eventually, reputedly, died of AIDS.