I have written before of the magic of Mombo, a paradise on the northern tip of Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta. The area is so spectacular that is draws visitors from across the globe, and they come back again and again and again. After saying goodbye to my home in the Delta in 2014 it was finally time for me to return to Mombo – an absence that felt far too long.
Nearly four years have gone by and, after Mombo’s rebuild at the end of 2017, I was sure that not only the lodge, but the place and people would have changed. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In the lodge itself echoes of the past are everywhere, from the refurbished room doors to the staff – with many of my old team there welcoming me home with a smile. Seeing familiar faces that spark memories of sublime safari moments fills you with emotion and joy; even some of the guests were familiar. Suddenly it was clear why so many people make this trip annually. Family is formed in this place and even though the members are reunited only occasionally the bonds formed over campfire stories and magnificent sightings are strong.
Heading out on a drive the sand roads, channels and plains were instantly familiar. An old stomping ground that provided constant awe and excitement. Sefo, our fabulous guide and friend from my previous years at Mombo, escorted us out on the morning adventure. Between herds of lechwe, impala and zebra we encountered a family of elephants, happy and serene as they feasted on Mombo’s nutrient rich grasses and drank from the Delta’s abundant channels. After watching the babies play for some time, Sefo prompted us to move on – he had a destination in mind.
As we came round a bend they came into focus, 2…3…4 beautiful, elegant cheetah making their way through the grass. Sefo reminded me of the female cheetah that we had encountered years before after cheetah had been absent in the area for some time. “This is the same one!” he whispered excitedly as we drove nearer, “These are her sub-adult cubs, the ones you saw her with have long since grown up and moved away. See how big these ones are now, she is an excellent mother and we see her here often these days”.
We watched as she allowed them to take the lead stalking and chasing a warthog. You could see they had been eating well and they did not need this meal, so their mother allowed them some training. The chase began too far off and the cubs could not catch the lightning fast warthog – even with their renowned cheetah speed. They stalked to a nearby mound to rest after their activity, treating us to a beautiful sight as they greeted one another, stretched out and yawned in the morning light.
As the sun began to rise higher in the sky we headed back to camp for brunch. We sat and watched a variety of animals graze in the same beautiful open plain in front of camp that I had loved so much, and reminisced about our adventures over the years before, the one we had today and those we were sure would still come.
The familiar land, people and wildlife will bring us all back here again – it is impossible to stay away.
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