Not feeling so hot today, downing water all night so that I can make my 7.30am pick up with a smile! With a couple of others from my truck, I am heading to Chobe National Park for the day – I’ve heard it’s amazing and too good to miss while I’m in the area!
The Chobe National Park was the first National Park in Botswana (after it gained independence from England in 1966) and is home to the densest population of elephant in Africa, with an estimated 50,000. The park is reported to have the largest concentration of game in Africa – I’m in total agreement! The area is divided into 4 different habitats. We would be visiting 2 of these different areas today. The park contains 4 of the Big Five (sadly no rhino, as they have all been poached).
After a 45 minute drive through Victoria Falls National Park (saw no animals), a quick stamp out of Zimbabwe and we had arrived! Just before we crossed the border, we were stood at the point where you can see each of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia! The borders all cross at one point – pretty cool!
Country number 6 – Botswana
Botswana are currently concerned with infection by foot and mouth disease – so to enter the country we had to walk through a pool of disinfectant. I remember doing this in England, probably about 10 years ago! Another free country to get into (haven’t been many of these!) and we were off to Kasane.
First up, we bordered a boat for a cruise along the Chobe river! The river runs along the Botswana /Namibia border. So a lot of the time we were looking across into Namibia!
The river was beautiful; grasslands with river tributaries spread throughout. There were birds and animals everywhere. I lost count of the number of species of bird – I don’t think we saw the same one twice. There are over 450 species of birds alone.
Scattered along the river banks were Nile crocodile and iguana. Hippos filled the water and some wandering the banks – with white egrit following shortly behind them. A lone elephant was strolling along, then went for a dip in the water right infront of us!
After a great salad lunch, off for a game drive through the park! It was about a 10 minute drive to get to the park entrance – and along the nicest roads I have seen in Africa. There were white painted middle lines, yellow edge lines, cars eyes (!) and even road signs – i was shocked!!
After less than 2 minutes of being inside the park, a herd of 21 elephant were right beside us! They came within 1 foot of our open car! There was even a tiny tiny baby! That’s the closest we have been to elephant.
The rest of the drive continued in a similar manner – a family of warthog, some Southern African giraffe (fourth species of the trip!), cape buffalo, African fish eagle, herds and herds of impala, hippo everywhere – in the water, walking on land, gibbon….
The scenery was really spectacular – swirls of grass and water, inter dispersed with just so many animals. Impala in the foreground, hippo in the middle and herds of elephant in the background.
One thing that really stood out was the sheer numbers of elephant. In previous parks, you would be lucky to see a family of 5 together. Here, 30 is a small family. They were just everywhere!!
After a brilliant day, time to head back to the border. And back into Zimbabwe! (this took ages as there was a whole bus full of American pensioners infront of us, as well as a few Canadians trying to avoid the high visa fees!).
It was 6pm by the time we arrived back at Victoria Falls town. Just in time for happy hour at the bar then!