Today we ventured to Handa Island, or 60 square miles of grasslands and flood plains. The landscape is flatter, with the occasional baobab tree looping towards the sky. Baobabs, unlike other trees, have no heart root. They’re fibrous through and through, and can re-enter the ground as new roots. Here, the smell of the wild sage blows pungent and rich in the breezes, far stronger than the herbs I use at home. The bushmen bathe with it to mask their scent when they hunt.
A cattle egret and wildebeest contemplate their symbiotic relationship.
Everybody’s got a water buffalo! Yours is fast but mine is slow. Why we keep them, I don’t know, but everybody’s got a water buffalo.
The tiny adorable steenbok!
Partway through our time on the island, our guide, Salani, managed to track down this gorgeous pair.
We spent 20 minutes mesmerized by the relaxed but watchful mother and the inquisitive cub. The baby chewed on logs, practiced tree-climbing, investigated the jeep, and pounced at the air.
Then she wrestled furiously with her mother’s tail. It was just like watching a human parent and toddler – so much affection and playfulness. I could have watched them for hours.
In the evening, we went for a mokoro ride. Originally hewed from African ebony trees, these traditional canoes are now commonly made of fiberglass. Local residents still use them for easy transport around the delta. One person stands in the back of the boat, balancing it with his feet, and propels it slowly forward with a long pole planted in the river bottom.
Nothing is more peaceful than riding in a mokoro. Gliding low, eye-level with the reeds, and a soft breeze off the water.
Slow enough to pluck a tiny reed frog from the bushes and carry him along without spooking him.
Our guide showed us how to pluck a luscious water lily and snap the stem into alternating sections. The film on the outside of the stem stays connected, forming a lovely chain.
We wore our lily necklaces until their petals drooped with the sunset and our day drew to a close.