Matsaudi is a close member of the Delta Camp family, having been with the company since his teens – which makes it about 25 years, now. Originally from Beetsha, on a finger of the Selinda Spillway, it was Matsaudi’s uncle, the legendary Kamanga Etanga, who was taken by a crocodile in 1997, who brought him to us at a time when the BaYei of the Okavango still made their annual pilgrimage though the swamps by mokoro, the fabled dug-out canoes by which means the people explored and colonised central Africa’s waterways.
From the outset it was Matsaudi’s shy smile, that rises from his countenance as the sun rises in the East, that made the impression. His willingness to turn his hand to any task, and to accept any challenge, reinforced the impression that the boy, as he then was, was someone special.
And so it has turned out. Since that time he has lived, with us, through every triumph and crisis, a steady and dependable presence in every circumstance. After a stint as groundsman, followed by a transfer to our maintenance department and a lengthy spell as maintenance manager (during which time he was intimately involved in the construction of Delta Camp’s iconic Tree House, and constructed our Sunset Deck), Matsaudi finally found his true métier as a professional guide. A sponge for knowledge of all kinds, acutely observant and thoughtful, with an easy manner and genuine affability accompanied by an excellent command of English, Matsaudi has delighted, and still delights, guests from all over the world with his heart-felt passion for his birthplace, the Okavango, in all its many manifestations.
Today Matsaudi stands in as camp manager when the need arises, but always a little reluctantly. His love is guiding and being out in the bush, gently easing his guests in his mokoro through the waterways, quietly pointing out the tiny frogs that cling to the papyrus stems, calmly circumnavigating hippos, and walking the islands of the Okavango in search of life, large and small.
Matsaudi Noga is a natural gentleman, and it is our privilege that he is one of us.
The Tree House
Featured in many books and magazines, and the memories of countless guests, Delta Camp’s Tree House is perhaps the Okavango’s most famous lodging.
Built high in the branches of a magnificent, sturdy Mukuchumo tree (Diospyros mespiliformis) in about 1988 by Chris Filmer, a young man who spent some time tending bar for us before putting his impressive academic qualifications to work in the ‘real’ world, and ably assisted by Matsaudi, guide extraordinaire, with us to this day but then a teen-aged stripling, the Tree House is a romantic wonder on three levels – bedroom, bathroom and deck. The bedroom, which is the original level, can be opened on three sides, and offers one of the most spectacular wakening experiences, with unrivalled views and a plethora of bird-life at eye level. Some years later we added the bathroom, to alleviate the long climb down in the middle of the night, and some years later the deck, to expand the bedroom and afford space for seating and the hammock that swings high above the Okavango.
On a visit, it is more probable than possible that hippos will graze beneath you during the night, or that an elephant will doze and mud-bathe before your very eyes. Genets like it up there too, and many a guest has woken in the night to find one of these beautiful, harmless creatures sitting on the railing in the moonlight. Birds react to humans differently when we are high in the trees with them, and it is fascinating to experience the variety life that goes on up there.
Whether it’s due to waking to the dawn chorus of birds and the call of the Fish Eagle high above you, tucking into the cosy bed while the moonlight streams into your eyrie, taking a shower with an elephant’s back visible between your feet, drifting into a book in the hammock, or watching the golden light of the Okavango’s late afternoon descend over the lagoon, of one thing you may be sure of your stay in the Tree House – you are unlikely to forget it.