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Don’t Camp Under the Sausage Tree – and other survival tips

Spending three days with our mokoro guides was an incredible way to learn about the local plants and how the local people live with the teeming life in the Okavongo Delta at their backdoor.  Many people were forced to leave the islands where  we camped and move to higher ground due to climate change causing more flooding, but they still fish and travel these waters daily.  They made wonderful teachers, and I learned enough to have a fighting chance should I ever be stranded on an island in the middle of the great Okavongo Delta. Demonstration on how to drink clean water through a waterlily stemDon't Camp Under the Sausage Tree.  Sandy, one of our mokoro pollers during our two days bush camping in the Okavango Delta is holding a footlong seed pod from the tree behind us, aptly called a sausage tree.  The "don't camp under this tree" seems obvious when we feel the solid weight of that pod - it would punch through any tent top.  The pod looks like an enormous narrow sweet potato.  The tree trunk is used to make a very good mokoro.  The inside of these pods are spongy and can be soaked and used for washing.  In traditional medicine, women who aren't producing enough milk will have their breasts cut and juice from the pod put into the cuts and blood from her breasts put into the pods.  This is the traditional remedy.  I think if nothing else the breast would weep for mercy.Sausage tree podsAvoid open water while in the mokoro if at all possibleAs I was getting slapped in the face by reeds and plants scooting along through the thick plants in our little Mokoro, I wondered why we were in the reeds instead of the perfectly open reed-free water nearby.  We learned after

Okavango Delta

I turned on my flashlight and poked my head out of the tent.  Peered left - all clear.  Peered right.  All clear.  So I stepped outside and cautiously turned the headlamp around the back-side of the tent.  Clear there, too.  Despite the snorty grunts all around us throughout the night, there is not a grazing hippo or wandering elephant in sight. The middle-of-the-night constitutional got a lot more interesting when we headed out for two nights of bush camping on the Okavango Delta in Botswana.We left the Kalahari and headed north - a long drive - for a fishing camp on the Okavango Delta panhandle.  The only real excitement was getting stuck in the deep white sand on the way into camp to the bemusement of a truck load of entertained Botswanans who turned up in a huge truck to pull us out.  Apparently, this happens all the time.The next morning we packed up and took a motorboat to meet our Mokoros and head into the reed-filled waters of the Okavango delta.  The Delta is a geological anomaly ... a huge wetland in northwest Botswana where the Okavango river flows down from Angola and ends spread across a large land-locked swath of arid land looking like a hand print slapped across the desert.  In the wet season the water is inches to several feet deep.  In the dry season the water recedes, and the islands that are scattered all though the northern panhandle of the delta grow larger. PapyrusThe glamorous wildlife watching of the Delta is to the east of us in Moremi game preserve - a dry area where wildlife is concentrated and tourists spend thousands of dollars a night for luxury safaris into exclusive lodges.  We are choosing to visit the Delta differently, and have come to the Panhandle and