Get Wonderfully Lost

November23rd

View from Oddballs Camp. Okavango Delta, Botswana

When planning our trip to Botswana, I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated by the challenge of finding accommodations that would be affordable and comfortable. Having never been to Bostwana and planning our visit without a travel agent, it was difficult to gauge how we would enjoy one of the about two dozen camps in the Delta. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Dumela Botswana, a company based out of the Green Pepper Travel Company in South Africa, which provided bookings to a little camp called Oddballs.

Jody, who runs Dumela Botswana with her husband, was simply wonderful when helping to plan our time in Botswana! She answered countless emails and made herself available on the phone to answer all of my questions (and there were many!) to make us more comfortable with our investment in Oddballs. I cannot thank her enough for making our Okavango Delta experience fantastic!

Tent #14 at Oddballs. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Located on the edge of Chief’s Island, Oddballs is situated in the heart of the Okavango Delta and borders the Moremi Game Reserve. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the camp manager, Joyce, and our guide for the duration of our stay, Information. Both provided a brief overview of the camp facilities and a safety debriefing on the camp and the Delta. We were then shown to our tent, #14 (we also occupied tent #3 during our stay), and allowed to relax and settle in.

Tent #3 at Oddballs. Okavango Delta, Botswana

The camp consists of 14 double occupancy domed tents on permanent platforms. You’ll find mattresses with clean linens and towels and a little bit of wild jasmine on your pillow (the smell is intoxicating!). Each tent is also equipped with an individual outdoor bathroom, having warm and cold running water, toilet, and shower facilities. (Water is heated using solar powered panels.) Showers are achieved by mixing cold and hot water to your liking in a bucket and releasing the spigot through a shower head—worked just fine by me! Tents are connect to each other and the lounging and dining areas with manicured paths, illuminated by oil-burning torches at night.

The communal areas of the camp consist of a fully equipped bar, lounging areas with colorful, comfy couches and lots of reading material, an outdoor firepit, and a dining area with several long tables where guests regale each other with stories of the bush. There is also an upper viewing deck on top of the lounge that provides gorgeous views of the sunset and Delta waters.

View of Oddballs from the Delta. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Oddballs provides mekoro excursions for its guests to experience the Delta. A mekoro is a canoe handmade from the wood of the sausage tree. A tradition imported from the people of Zambia many generations ago, the mekoro is the primary mode of transportation throughout the Delta. Guests also experience the Delta in the form of walking safaris: after arriving on a new island, you walk with your guide to get lost in the grasses and trees as you follow the varied wildlife of the area.

Our camp site, mekoro, and shower in the Moremi Game Reserve. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Since we spent four nights at Oddballs, we had the opportunity to spend the middle two nights out in the Moremi Game Reserve—I consider this a MUST DO! We piled all our equipment into a mekoro: two tents (one for us and one for Information), a small fold-away table, makeshift bathroom facilities, enough food for a small village, cooking pots and utensils, water, lanterns, overnight bags for us and Information, and sleeping bags (we brought our own sleeping bags)… all in one mekoro! I was actually amazed at how much we fit in the mekoro, and I was equally amazed that our “bathroom facilities” while camping actually included a toilet seat (very important for the ladies!) and a shower (a container for water and a shower head with spigot). We boiled the Delta water for cooking and washing and used wood that we found for fire. You will never feel so connected to nature as you do when camping in the middle of Africa. (Don’t worry, though, your guide will have a walkie-talkie to communicate with Oddballs.)

Lounging areas of Oddballs. Okavango Delta, Botswana

One question was on my mind before leaving for Botswana: what was the food going to be like? Excited by the prospect of trying something new and a little concerned about the “what if I don’t like it”, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food was a mix of African and European cuisine. One meal consisted of braised oxtail with vegetables and mash (a potato and grain…well…mash), salad, and dessert. Breakfast choices included cereals, yoghurt, and fruits. Food while camping was a little more basic: a variety of canned vegetables and meats, pasta, rice, and the like…but when you have been walking for hours, anything edible is good!

One of the best memories I will take away from Oddballs is its familial nature. The staff and other guests are extremely friendly and inclusive, and I think this has everything to do with the camp’s atmosphere. On our last evening at Oddballs, we sat with the other guests to enjoy our dinner. We had just come back from camping in the Moremi Game Reserve and the other guests at the camp were all new arrivals. We shared our stories with them; they listened bright-eyed excited for the adventures that awaited them. We bonded with them over how amazing and fantastic Africa was and we shared a keen understanding of what has come to be called The Africa Bug.

Dining at Oddballs. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Oddballs is simple and outdoorsy and possesses a true wild air about it. We caught glimpses of other camps in the Delta, and I’ll admit that they provided some of the more familiar comforts: nicer sheets, luxury tents or cabins, pools, some on the outskirts of the Delta had safari cars for guests. Oddballs doesn’t have these things – and Oddballs doesn’t need these things! At its core, Oddballs has developed with the flow of the Okavango Delta and not against it. Yes, that means that you might see a little bit of wildlife in the camp—we were able to watch elephants right from the deck of our tent!—and it also means that you get to experience Africa for what it really is. So if that’s what you want out of your safari experience, I HIGHLY recommend spending some time at Oddballs!

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