chobe river elephants

Exploring Chobe National Park

Today, we had a Chobe river cruise, game drive and bush camp in the national park to look forward to. Warming up post French toast and hot chocolate, we crossed the Zambia border into Botswana for our 24 hour visit. The visa is free but the truck was taking ages to get through, so we took a cab into town with the chef who was going to stock up on food. Once the local cabbies saw us, they immediately put the price up and asked for even more on our arrival at the shops! Annoyed, all of us in the four cabs paid the fare we had agreed on originally and left which I think was fair enough.

After an hour in town and a cup of coffee to get rid of what appeared to be a caffeine withdrawal headache, the truck took us to Thembe campsite in Kasane. After lunch in the sun and packing a bag for our overnight stay in Chobe National Park, eight of us went on a three hour Chobe river cruise.

The Chobe river separates Botswana and Namibia, and is made up of many small lush green islands which draw animals from afar. From the perfect viewpoint in our 25 seater speedboat, we saw Waterbuck at the banks, Nile Crocodiles, basking Hippos, a bright Green Water Snake, Buffalos and a Water Lizard, which eats Crocodile eggs and has reduced the Crocodile population in the river by 80%. There was a wide variety of birds, including a Fish Eagle perched in a treetop and posing Kingfishers, hovering in the sky like Hummingbirds. I was delighted to finally be able to capture Giraffes drinking at the waters edge!

giraffes drinking

Chobe is best known for the large number of Elephants, and we were treated to the amazing site of a large herd swimming from the banks to the islands. We were so close, watching them use their trunks like a snorkel and playing happily in the water.

elephants playing in the chobe river

A baby Elephant slipped trying to get up a muddy bank and we watched the poor thing attempt to get to his feet again, flopping down in exhaustion.

baby elephant fallen over

It was really cute, but when one of the two older Elephants tried to help and slipped too, we couldn’t help but laugh!

We joined the rest of the group in an open sided safari vehicle and took the river path in Chobe National Park. I preferred the boat, especially since we had just seen the same stretch of river from a better angle, but I enjoyed listening to the safari guide’s extensive information and I got a nice shot of the Elephant’s reflections in the glass-like water.

chobe river elephants

A new sighting for all of us, we caught a glimpse of Honey Badgers, a Jackal and a rare Chobe Bushbuck as we drove into the sunset towards our campsite in the bush.

chobe bushbuck

Once the final hues of sunset had faded away, we pulled into our beautifully set up campsite with tents neatly set up in a semi circle behind the chairs next to a roaring campfire. Only, there was a mix up with another group and we were actually at the wrong campsite! Our driver said we shouldn’t be driving in the bush after nightfall but there was no choice – all our sleeping bags and belongings were at a camp which turned out to be over half an hour away.

We bombed (or ‘made progress’) through the darkness to camp number 1, and over dinner followed by toasted marshmallows and Amarula hot chocolate, our guide told us all manner of stories about the local wildlife. Some were clearly terrified and others went to ‘check’ their tents were closed properly! The toilets were made of poles, canvas coverings and was simply a seat above a hole in the ground – I actually think I prefer a ‘bush toilet!’ It was very cold, so the three of us sharing one tent were glad we had squeezed in together for warmth.

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