Two days on the road, a late night with an old pal, and an early morning race to the airport. A moments consternation about luggage. "You are overweight - its too much. The plane is full. but wait", phone calls and a mood of co-operation follow. "Well that bag is our food, and its the heaveist. If necessary it could come on a later flight". "Ok, lets see - if we can fit it in the plane its fine." We pass through the finely tuned metal detector and onto the apron. There is bright sunlight as the little baggage vehicle ferries us to our 206 air taxi.There is one passenger missing and with luck all our bags squash neatly into the pod fixed to the underbelly of the plane. We climb in, buckle up and soon swing up into the air looking down on the sprawling safari town of Maun in central Botswana.
Immediately we are transfixed by the spectacle of the meandering blue arms of the delta channels. My heart swells with the beauty of the place. Pristine water - breeding grounds for fish and birds, brings life and abundance to newly filled lagoons. There are islands of green trees and grasses interlaced and connected with the threads of well worn animal paths.
The reflected sun follows us along the water like a lazy hand trailing fingers of light. It shows me that the wild grassy plains are themselves under water reflecting sky and clouds in a giant mirror fringed with green. I watch the tiny shadow of our plane coast over the subtle contours of the land from island to island.
Hippos bask in the wintry sun on islands that no boat or car will ever reach. The deep water channels are tea stained, showing white sand banks and water grass brushed like mermaids hair by the push of water.
The magical mystical waterworld gives way to the dry hinterland between the Delta and the Spillway. The colours now are greys, browns and golds, speckled with sandy waterholes where elephants gather to drink and bathe, or snooze in the shade, on their long trek between waterworlds.
We land on the white sand strip. A spray of floodwater splashes the plane where water has inched under the sandbags. Our friends meet us. The air smells of dust and sage. The view is yellow grass and palm trees touched by a gentle breeze, their broad leaves scraping a distinctive sound. We catch up on news as we negotiate the flooded tracks to camp.
I havent seen this in far too long. If you fly anywhere in your life it should be here, at least once.