Hello and Welcome Back to Post No. 3 in my Safari Prep Series,
LEARNING CURVE: FROM DRESSAGE TO TWO-POINT
The past few weeks the weather has been glorious, truly high summer here in the Pacific NW, so I've been trying to take advantage of the long, cool evenings and logging as many hours in the saddle as possible. It feels great after having much of the winter off and a slow start to spring riding. I knocked around on horses as a kid off and on, and even spent a fair amount of time moving cattle on a family ranch in Eastern Oregon for a time, but it wasn't until I was in my late 40's that I got my first horse as an adult, and started taking dressage lessons.
Having never explored jumping or eventing, meant I also never learned to ride two-point. Had I began riding much earlier in life, I fairly certain I would have pursued eventing, but getting a late start, and coming into riding having broken my back that year ( yes, on my first ride in 20 years—eye roll ) it wasn't something that seemed smart to pursue. I wanted to ride, but I didn't want to be stupid.
After a few lessons the past few months with my old trainer and friend, Jen Verharen, I've been learning the basics of two-point. It felt counter-intuitive to get up out of the saddle and off the horse's back compared to riding dressage where the goal is to keep your seat connected to the horse. My first lesson was hilarious—I couldn't stop posting at the trot. And laughing. But after a few more weeks of practice, I'm even getting the hang of it at the canter. Not completely comfortable or confident yet, but getting there. As proof, my thighs and calves are feeling it. I hope to be able to try and keep up as we canter through the water of the Delta. And stay on.
ABOUT THE OKAVANGO DELTA
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a very large, swampy inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a trough in the central part of the basin of the Kalahari Desert. All the water reaching the Delta ultimately evaporates and transpires, and does not flow into any sea or ocean. Each year, about 2.6 cubic miles of water spread over the 2,300–5,800 square mile area. Some flood waters drain into Lake Ngami. The area was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that mostly dried up nearly 11,000 years ago.
The Moremi Game Reserve, a national park, is on the eastern side of the Delta. The Delta was named as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, which were officially declared on February 11, 2013, in Arusha, Tanzania. On 22 June 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1,000th site to be officially inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Okavango is produced by seasonal flooding. The Okavango River drains the summer ( January–February ) rainfall from the Angola highlands and the surge flows 750 miles in about one month. The waters then spread over the area over the next four months ( March–June ). The high temperature of the delta causes rapid transpiration and evaporation, resulting in a cycle of rising and falling water level that was not fully understood until the early 20th century. The flood peaks between June and August, during Botswana’s dry winter months, when the delta swells to three times its permanent size, attracting animals from miles around and creating one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.
The Okavango Delta is both a permanent and seasonal home to a wide variety of wildlife. Species include the African bush elephant, African buffalo, hippopotamus, lechwe, tsessebe, sitatunga, blue wildebeest, South African giraffe, Nile crocodile, lion, cheetah, leopard, brown hyena, spotted hyena, springbok, greater kudu, sable antelope, impala, south-central black rhinoceros, southern white rhinoceros, Burchell's zebra, common warthog, chacma baboon, and vervet monkey. Notably, the endangered Cape wild dog survives within the Okavango Delta, exhibiting one of the richest pack densities in Africa. The delta also includes over 400 species of birds, including African fish eagle, Pel's fishing owl, crested crane, lilac-breasted roller, hammerkop, South African ostrich, and sacred ibis.
The majority of the estimated 200,000 large mammals in and around the delta are not year-round residents. They leave with the summer rains to find renewed fields of grass to graze and trees to browse, then make their way back as winter approaches. Large herds of buffalo and elephant total about 30,000 beasts.
FROM THE AFRICAN HORSE SAFARI WEBSITE: THE OKAVANGO DELTA FLY CAMP SAFARI
"Get back to nature and journey through Africa’s Eden, enjoying the simplicity of our new ride in the Okavango Delta. With no vehicles involved, and working in partnership with the local community, we can guarantee a genuinely environmentally-friendly safari. Enjoy spellbinding scenery, exciting riding and spectacular game viewing, without worrying about your carbon footprint. Stripping back to the bare beauty of fly-camp safaris, means that you will truly embrace Africa’s wilderness, and enjoy the exclusivity of a private, personalized camp set far out in the bush.
From Maun Airport it is only a 30 minute drive to the southern end of the Okavango where the safari begins at the so-called “buffalo fence”. Here, the patient horses are waiting for you. After the luggage has been loaded onto mekoros (small wooden canoes) to be transported to camp, you will mount up and venture out on horseback for your first experience of the Delta.
Exploring this water wilderness on horseback is absolutely exhilarating, and each wildlife encounter will fill you with awe. In the saddle and high above the tall grasses, game viewing is exceptional; you can see giraffe, elephant, buffalo, zebra, many species of antelope and sometimes even hyena, lion or wild dog. The Delta is also renowned for some of the best bird watching in the world so make sure you bring your binoculars. You will be ticking off bucket-list moments left, right and centre as you come across your first elephant, enjoy a water canter, or watch the sun go down over the horizon without another soul in sight."
• Riding through the untouched scenery of the Okavango Delta, without another soul insight.
• Long free canters across the plains and splashing through flood waters.
• Being able to really absorb Africa's wilderness through the private and exclusive set-up of fly-camping
• Viewing the Okavango Delta's abundant and varied wildlife
FOR MORE INFO, CONTACT AFRICAN HORSE SAFARIS
Feel free to contact Isabel Juby, of African Horse Safaris with any questions if you have any inkling to do this. You only live once and none of us are getting any younger!
Mention special discount code "LBTE$100DISCOUNT" for $100 off.
WIN A PAIR OF MY NEW FAVORITE GLOVES—THE ROECKL LAILA ( SUNTAN ) GLOVE
Thank you to Roeckl for providing me with these spiffy summer "Laila" gloves. These are my new favorites: suntan™ mesh on top and micro-air on the palms— slightly tacky with just enough grip. Light and airy and perfect for my trip to Botswana. I'm bringing two pair.
Thanks reading and being out there. And thank you to my sponsors African Horse Safaris, Ride Botswana, Roeckl Gloves, and Think Tank Photo. Next week I'll share some information on the solar device chargers I'm bringing, after I test them out. Don't forget to pop on over to my Instagram and Facebook pages to enter to win a pair of the spiffy Roeckl gloves!
Have a great week and Ride On!