The Big Four: Chobe National Park

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December 24th 2012
Published: June 13th 2013
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In my previous post, I alluded to a list that I made as a young child with one hundred goals that I wanted to achieve before I die. To this day, I am still not sure where this list is- probably tucked away in a box somewhere in Florida with my parents :/ Nevertheless, I have no doubt that, in addition to seeing Victoria Falls, another one of my goals was to do a safari in East Africa. So, with two days left before I head back home for the holidays, I decided to cross the Zambia/Botswana border with Erin and Beth to get my first safari experience in Chobe National Park in northwestern Botswana.

While the safaris of Botswana are not as renowned or popular as those in Kenya, they are still (from what I've been told) just as impressive. While leopards are hard to come by - as they are in most places - the other members of the "Big 5" (lions, elephants, hippos, and water buffalo) are fairly common, and thankfully growing in numbers. To begin our journey, Beth, Erin, and I first took a very memorable ride on a barge that transfers vehicles and people across the border. In typical fashion, however, we were running about an hour behind schedule due to some of the many 'logistical challenges' of traveling in Africa. When we finally arrived in Botswana, though, we were immediately picked up by our safari company and taken to a post on the Chobe River to begin the river safari portion of our journey.

The Chobe River, which actually borders a seemingly random strip of land owned by Namibia, was pretty much what I expected as far as river safaris are concerned. The most exciting animals to be seen were the crocodiles and hippos, both of which numbered in the hundreds. Because we were there during the rainy season, birds such as spoonbills and ibis were also everywhere, and antelopes and water buffaloes were also easy to spot. After about an hour on the river, though, things started to seem a bit...repetitive. Thankfully, after a quick lunch, our safari group then left the river and boarded three land-rovers for the land portion of our journey.

The land safari was, in my opinion, much more exciting and interesting than the river portion. Part of this was due to the fact that Chobe National

...with ominous hippo in the background.
Park has one of the highest concentrations of elephants in the world- and it's pretty hard to get sick of elephants! All in all, we must have seen at least 40-50 of them, most of which traveled in female packs, with calves protected in the middle. But perhaps the most exciting part of the safari came during our final moments, when we spotted a female lion with three cubs resting under a tree. Surprisingly, the lion family seemed fairly un-phased by our presence, giving us some pretty memorable photo ops.

All in all, I'd say the Chobe National Park was a good introduction to the 'world' of safaris. While I did not know quite what to expect, the experience definitely whet my appetite to do some more safari-ing in Zambia and Kenya upon my return in March. But, for now, it's back to the US I go...

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14th June 2013

I've always wanted to do this. Kinda expected the river safari more exciting, but seeing the lion and more elephants sure win hands down.

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