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Jonny Wet & Wild in Botswana

Posted by Jonny Bealby 1st May 2010
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Just before seven, with the eastern skies still fired brilliant red, we ride the horses down into the reed filled water. This is no ordinary place, and no ordinary trip; we're not therefore dressed in riding gear, but swimming trunks and bikinis, and are bare back on our steeds. With the late rains just finished and the Angolan flood waters rising, the Okavango Delta has turned into a labyrinth of deep water channels, rain pans, and molapas, as the locals call the marshland in between. Sometimes the only way from island to island is to swim... And if we want transport on the other side we must do that with the horses. One at a time we plunge down into the water. As the horses find their way and the water rises above our thighs, we tie the reins in a knot and throw them lose, hang on to the mane and let the horse swim out into the channel. The horses snort and grunt as they fight for air, while we try not to think about the crocs and hippos that lurk beneath the reeds. Then, for a few wonderful seconds, I feel as if I am as light as air, in perfect harmony with my horse, floating effortlessly above his back. The water is clear and warm against my body, the early morning sun sparkles on the lily leaves, far away I can see the pale moon. Then the horses find their feet, we slide back into position and ride up onto dry land and into the shade of a jackeberry tree. Twenty minutes later we're saddled up, dressed for the ride and following the spore of elephant... an exhilarating way to start the day!

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