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Published: October 4th 2013
Safari is an adventure like no other. I surprised myself as to how much I loved it! I've never claimed to be an animal lover or a wildlife fanatic, but there was something about safari that changed me. Seeing animals in the wild, and learning about their behaviours was educational, and inspiring at the same time.
We began our trip from Livingstone in Zambia, and were driven to the border of Zambia where the Zambezi and Chobe rivers converge, and where four countries meet each other (Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana). We took a short boat ride across the river to Botswana, and after clearing immigration we went towards Kasane, from where we boarded a boat for the Zambezi River cruise.
The river cruise took us along the Chobe, between Botswana and Namibia. We took the opportunity to learn some Setswana from our guide. We saw baboons, elephants (kloo), Buffalos (Nari), Hippos (kubu), King pin kingfishers, fish eagles, Impalas leaping across steams of water, waterbucks and crocodiles. It was a very pleasant trip, in beautiful, peaceful surroundings.
Lindsay and I had opted for the three-day two-night camping safari trip, and
it was well worth it. Some travelers went for a single day trip only, and I really don’t think this would do Chobe justice. It’s hard to summarise such a busy three days of wildlife spotting, but I will do my best to summarise the highlights. We went on an afternoon game drive when we arrived, and then both the second and third days we did an early morning game drive and an afternoon/dusk game drive.
One of the best things I entered Chobe National Park with was low expectations! Everything I saw impressed me and amazed me. I saw one giraffe far away and thought that was fantastic! Little did I know I would end up seeing hundreds of them, and some very close indeed! There were even young male giraffes fighting and bashing their necks together.
A herd of elephants came to bathe in the river, splashing water all over themselves and rolling in the shallow mud. Apparently they do this on average every four days. The baby elephants were of course extra cute! On a separate occasion we saw some elephants coming down to the river, walking in front of and
behind our vehicle. They just kept coming and coming. Our guide told us this was very rare to see such a big group and it was fantastic to watch them walk by us to the river.
Each night, we drove back to the campsite at sunset, which was stunning. Every impression you ever had of Africa is true; the red orange yellow skies with a silhouetted tree, it's all real and it is everywhere. Having been on the lookout for animals all afternoon, my eyes started to play tricks on me on the way back: Every tree or branch took on the form of an animal!
Both nights, we camped in a two-man dome tent, which was very comfortable. There were lights all round the campsite to deter any wildlife! It was wonderful to be sat under billions of stars by a campfire, and not a beep of a phone, or a computer to be heard or seen! A very memorable and peaceful place. Waking up to the sound of birds and hippos is quite surreal. On night number two, we heard a lion grumbling in the distance!
On the second
morning, I had a ‘camp shower’- an open roofed tent with a container of water overhead. I just had to twist the bottom and the water inside would come out. There was something quite liberating about being outside in the wilderness, naked under the sun. And to be clean of course!
It was interesting adapting to being out in the wild. I saw elephants and giraffes all the time, and had to remind myself that I was not in a zoo or a wildlife park. This was real, wild Botswana. This was certainly verified when I saw a dead buffalo in the river or on the ground, or even an elephant hide that smelt very bad. Sometimes we came across a skull or skeleton of an animal that had not survived that day. That was the reality, and it’s amazing to witness that.
A huge highlight were the lions that we saw. First we spotted three lionesses lying under a tree, and then at dusk they started walking and we followed them. They were so strong and lean. As we turned to drive back to camp (due to the sun setting) Lindsay spotted the
male! Unbelievable! He was marking his territory and making deep growling noises before he too headed off in the same direction as the females. We saw two other males as well, a very rare sight. Awesome!
We were lucky enough to see leopards in trees, and one under a bush, “Zazu” bird, warthogs “Pumbaa” (weird looking animals!), baboons, hippos, zebras (hundreds and hundreds!) and more! . We saw the heaviest flying bird in the world - in Botswana if you kill it you can go to prison for ten years. All these animals roamed across great plains, as far as the eye could see.
We went with Kalahari safaris: $385USD for three days. Great value. Good tents, fire, food, transport etc.
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