From Vic Falls, Zim to Chobe, Botswana and on to the Okavango Delta
We left camp at a rather lazy 7:30 am to get on the truck to our first destination: Chobe National Park in northern Botswana. Once crossing another border country, we went on a safari around the park for a few hours, which took us into the bush and then down to the Chobe river, the latter of which was bursting with life. So many elephants everywhere! Apparently Chobe National Park has something like 22,000 elephants – that’s a lot! Also saw herds and herds of impala, buffalo, kudu, waterbuck and many other antelope species, but what impressed me the most was seeing first of all a beautiful black male lone sable antelope and then stumbling into a whole breeding herd of them! No one else seemed to know what they were or how fantastic this sighting is being that they are super rare animals – all they wanted to see is more and more giraffe… Shame. I also saw my first red lechwes, which on first glance look exactly like impala, but they’re actually a lot bigger and, like waterbuck, are almost always found in or near water.
We ended our safari only to be put directly onto another one: this time on water. We were off on another sunset cruise! The Chobe river breams with life in the dry season, and I could hardly believe my eyes with the sheer amount of animals we saw all around of us. On every island and both sides of the Chobe (Botswana and Namibia) there were massive hoards of creatures as far as the eye could see! Nowhere before have I ever seen quite so many animals and such diversity in one place! As we were cruising along, we saw a crocodile come onto shore and eat a large fish, and shortly afterwards baboons came to drink at the water with the shy impala and kudu. Then just around the bend, a family of elephants came out from the bushes to drink, surrounding their young calf protectively with subadults and adults. The family were a delight to watch as they sloshed around in the water with apparent glee. On the other side of the bank, warthogs rolled around in the mud, making their mohawks look gelled with brown Brilcream. Spoonbills, ibis and storks fished for what must be a huge array of fish in the water. Hippos laughed at each other and yawned at neighbouring elephants, of whom were getting a bit too close to them for comfort. Giraffe lumbered down the banks, spread their front legs into an upside-down V and stretched their impossibly long necks down for a drink. It really felt like a tropical paradise. Then we watched the sun set again, this time into neighbouring Namibia, and watched as a traditional poler caught his last fish for the day.
A long truck ride from Chobe to Maun. Not much to report other than seeing a few game species along the way such as ostrich, impala and a rare type of bird called the ground hornbill. This is a huge black bird with red cheeks and only breeds every 7 years, laying just one egg. Bateleur eagles flew over the truck and the occasional donkey/goat/cow wandered across the road (often totally unaware or unbothered that a multi-tonne truck was heading its way). Got to Maun (gateway to the Delta) in the evening, ate and went to bed for an early start. However, all through the night I had terrible stomach pains and ended up having to go to the toilet a few times to vomit and I had rather bad diarrhoea. As the night wore on, my symptoms got worse, and I was not able to sleep a wink. I was very worried that I’d not be able to go to the Delta the next day.
Stay tuned for the next blog about my time in the Delta.