I had always wanted to get to the great game parks of Botswana which include the Kalahari, Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park but the only legitimately easy, albeit expensive way to get there was flying from Johannesburg. From Livingstone, Zambia however, it is only an hour drive or so and a day trip will run you $135 and that’s a steal for what you get! I jumped on the opportunity I didn’t think I would have this trip and Chobe National Park and its unreal stock of elephants and beautiful waterways didn’t disappoint.
I left Fawlty Towers with my Dutch friend at 7am for the hour drive and ferry across to Botswana. From there it was another 10km or so to Kasane and the Chobe Safari Lodge. The Lodge was the base for the Safari which included breakfast, lunch and drinks plus a 3 hour boat cruise safari and a 3 hour game drive in a nice safari mobile Land Cruiser which can comfortably seat 10.
There were 8 people all together in my vehicle and we combined with another car of a large bilingual German family living in Zambia. The other people in my car were a South African family with two very smart and adorable children and two Italian Nationals living in Mozambique. Everyone was very nice and we shared a nice lunch together at the lodge between the morning cruise and the afternoon game drive.
The morning cruise was probably my favorite part. First, I love boat trips. Second, the relaxed atmosphere and amazing scenery made the boat trip really fun. We got up close and personal with a medium sized alligator as you can see although I am convinced he was full size because he was massive. We saw a ton of hippos and cool birds, although bird watching is not really my thing but the South African kids’ enthusiasm made it better.
Finally, we got some great views of a family of elephants drinking and washing at the river’s edge. This was really cool to see from the water because you really got to see how they work to get their water and to make sure the baby is cool, washed and gets enough water. They work as a unit.
But perhaps most surprisingly to me and a nice little added bonus was that we got an unexpected landing on the Caprivi Strip in Namibia. After some light pestering of the tour guide I convinced him to land us in Namibia, albeit illegally, but there was nobody around to see. So I was in Namibia which I had originally planned to save until next trip to do with Angola and I still will because there is a ton in Namibia I want to do but it was a nice little surprise to land on the Caprivi Strip as you don’t realize how far the arm of Namibia extends eastward.
After lunch we headed out on our game drive that lasted about 3 hours. If you’ve ever been on safari before, you’ll know this is about the perfect amount of time for a drive because you will see a lot of animals and you won’t get bored. I had always heard good things about Chobe National Park and what I found out id that they have more elephants in Chobe than I think any other park-they have more than 50,000 and I think I saw every one of them!
There were so many elephants that at one point you didn’t even pay attention to them. However, the beautiful landscapes with waterway backdrops gave Chobe an amazing look and made it very unique from the other big African Parks I’ve done safaris at. Some of the views of the elephants and gazelles, along with warthogs and monkeys across the Chobe Savannah were breathtaking. The light and vast landscapes made it very memorable to see.
We also had some cool run-ins with elephants along the truck path as they are very protective and we were charged and elephant roared at several times. Elephant roared at is my term for the noise elephants make when they’re pissed off at you and the flail their ears out and mount a charge. These elephants are absolutely massive and wild and you never know what they’re going to do so it’s a little worrisome. But alas, they never do make contact with the car; it’s generally just a threat to let you know not to mess with them.
Aside from thousands (literally) of elephants we only saw one other big 5 member and that was one solitary female lion who was resting in the shade of the hot afternoon. She was just chilling as we snapped pictures but it was nice to find a lion as they are always cool to see whether they are prowling or just resting.
Aside from that, we saw several warthog families, antelopes, waterbucks, lizards, birds, monkeys, baboons, giraffes and even a really cool dung beetle (above) but we didn’t see the remaining big 5 members (buffaloes, leopards or rhinos-which Chobe has none of) or even any wildebeests or zebras which normally you see a million of in the other parks I’ve been to. However, I will remember Chobe for the vast amounts of elephants and the great landscapes that are relatively unique to this part of Africa. It is much drier up by the equator in the great parks of Kenya and Tanzania which leads to the great migration each year but here it is lush and wet and there is plenty of water.
Chobe National Park lies within Botswana on the intersection of four countries; Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana and is a great place to see elephants and some great African vistas. If you head up to Victoria Falls or to Livingstone to see the Falls, definitely take a side trip an hour away to Chobe. My only advice would be to get multiple entry visas to both Zambia and Zimbabwe, depending on which way you enter from and leave.
After two nights in Livingstone, Zambia I sent last night in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe at the Restcamp because the hostel, Shoestring Backpackers, I stayed at in 2004 was packed with three overland truck tours. That made for a fun filled night as I headed over there for some Zambezi beers on my last night before flying to Johannesburg today to spend one night out by the airport and do some shopping. I need sneakers, long pants, a sweatshirt and a hat because I gave them all away after gorillas tracking in Rwanda 10 days ago as they were filthy and I didn’t have time to wash and dry them. I really need a new hat because I got a haircut from some kid in Zambia the other day and he did a horrendous job and it looks like I have a racing stripe across the side of my head which is why I am wearing the Arsenal beanie in the pictures the last few days!
Tomorrow I fly to Madagascar!!!!!