May 2016
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  • Day15

    Chobe national park

    May 25, 2016 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We left the hotel at 6:00 am for a morning game drive in Chobe National Park. We had no sooner gone through the park gates when we came upon a male and female lion on one side and a few lions on the other side. The sun had not even risen yet so the lions were quite active and we could see them playing and running through the trees. There were several other game vehicles around and the male lion wasn't too happy with this so a few times he made a little run at the front vehicle. Thankfully once we left the lions to themselves, the vehicles all spread out in different directions.

    Chobe doesn't have any paved roads which makes safariing much nicer as you feel you're seeing everything in its completely natural state. Much of the park is covered in sands from the Kalahari desert in Namibia and the sands range in colours from red to brown to grey. We came across several more lions, hundreds of impala and the usual troops of baboons. We stopped for tea and rusks about two thirds of the way through the game drive and got a chance to stretch our legs before continuing on for the rest of the drive. We hadn't gone too far when we ran across a lioness who was intently watching a warthog. Two other lionesses joined in and we could see them working together a plan of attack. The warthog had no idea they were even there but some alert impala noticed and sounded the alarm. It was fascinating to watch the patience and coordination of the three lions and we watched for quite some time before giving up and heading back to the lodge. We never did find out if the warthog wised up and hot away or became breakfast.

    We had breakfast back at the lodge and then went for a bit of a wander around the area but there wasn't too much to see so we went back to our room to relax and ended up watching a couple of water monitors digging in the garden outside our deck. It was the first time seeing these large lizards, digging and throwing the dirt while looking for bugs to eat.

    After lunch we had a bit more down time and this time we had a family of warthogs visit our little garden area so we enjoyed watching them kneeling on their front knees while eating all of the grass. They certainly don't have any fear of humans but they just ignore you as well.

    At 3:00 pm we left for our second game drive of the day. We re-entered the park and drove down to the riverside and came upon several elephants walking in the sand. Whenever we come upon any animals, the driver turns the jeep off and we sit silently watching. This time the family of elephants decided to cross the road in front of us and one male teenager wanted a closer look so he walked right over to our parked jeep and stared at us right through the front window area, trunk touching the grill of the jeep. I say front window area as most of the safari vehicles have a fold down front window for better viewing and ours was down so the elephant literally only had the hood of the jeep between him and the front seat. He soon lost interest in us and caught up to his family, but it was an exhilarating experience!

    We saw several more elephants in various areas of the park, more impala and baboons and the crowning moment came when we were getting ready to leave the park and we came across a beautiful leopard laying up on a tree branch right beside the road. Leopards are notoriously hard to find so seeing one so close was a stroke of luck! It just lay there peacefully ignoring us all. The sun was just starting to set so it was lit up even more golden in the waning light, which made for stunning photos. Sadly we said goodbye to the leopard and mase fir the park exit. We did't get much further before we found three young male lions basking in the dusk light. This game drive was probably the best we've ever done. We're sad to say goodbye to this place, but tomorrow we head back to Johannesburg and the tour is over.
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  • Day14


    May 24, 2016 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    We got up very early this morning so that Robb, Claude and I could go down to the watering hole with a guide and sit in the blind they have there so that we could watch the animal comings and goings up close.

    We started out with the birds, most notably the helmutted Guinea fowl. These are kooky birds that look like they're incredibly stupid as they run around in a constant panic. It wasn't too long before a large herd of Cape Buffalo showed up for their morning drink. Sitting in the blind, being so close and yet mostly invisible was a pretty amazing experience. It seems like each species has their own time to come and fill up for the day.

    After the herd of Cape buffalo left we had a herd of Impala come through. After that came the baboons. We also saw some crocs come out to sun themselves on the sand. The was one Maribou stork, which is the largest stork on the world. Record wing span is 11 feet and they stand about 4.5 feet tall. We didn't see and elephants as they usually come to the watering hole in the afternoon or evening.

    We came back to the lodge and had breakfast and then we all boarded a small bus for the drive into Botswana. The drive takes about two hours and when we left Zimbabwe we had to get out of the bus and get our departure stamp in our passports, then we got back on the bus and drove a couple hundred yards to the Botswana checkpoint where we got our arrival stamps.

    After crossing into Botswana we drove less than 30 minutes to the Chobe Marina Lodge, our accommodation for the next two nights. Claude and I were given an awesome room that was one half of a two story villa right on the Chobe River. Our afternoon was spent on a sundowner cruise on the river. The Chobe River is the border between Botswana and Namibia, whereas the Zambezi River is the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, so while we didn't actually step on land in those two countries we were in them while on the two river cruises.

    This River cruise was quite different than the first one, as this time we saw several elephants in the river playing in the grass and reeds and rolling around bathing and having fun. We also some some hippos that were out of the water, which is called a thunder of hippos. If they are in the water, they are a plod of hippos.

    We stayed on the river for an incredible sunset and then had dinner and drinks before heading to bed for the early morning wake up for another safari game drive.
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