Crossing the border from Zimbabwe to Botswana was relatively painless and our time on Bowie that morning was short. All in all about 100 kilometres from Victoria Falls to Kasane. We stop at a shopping complex with a currency exchange and grocery store which allowed us to exchange rand to pulas and purchase supplies for the coming days.
Most of our meals are provided and cooked by Mama at the truck in our camp, others we fend for ourselves. It’s a nice combination and Shady, our guide, is also gluten free due to a wheat allergy so Mama always makes sure I’m fed and taken care of with very limited risk of cross contamination. Half of our group is “accommodated” (lodge rooms), the other half camping, so all of our beautiful lodges are also camping facilities.
Within a half hour of arrival at Thebe River Camping, we were picked up by our guides and left for Chobe National Park game drive. The park is known as one of Africa’s best places to see wildlife. Chobe is home to almost 50,000 elephants and endless species of birds. I am enamoured with elephants- their intelligence, their community and family led by matriarchs and the grace with which these massive creatures move. We watched one herd play in mud and water for close to half an hour and took great joy in watching the babies and juveniles sliding with each other in the mud. The babies would then jump up to their mom to nuzzle then nurse. The elephants were the highlight for me – and the most plentiful – but we shouldn’t neglect mentioning the hippos, cape buffaloes, baboons, impalas, giraffes, waterbuck, zebra, kudu and birds. It was overwhelming the amount of wildlife saw in the three hours.
From the drive we were dropped off at the river for a sunset cruise. Namibia and Botswana share the Chobe River as a natural border. The cruise meandered around the lush islands that separate the two countries and are home to the vast amount of game that we saw earlier in the day.
Over the next three hours we were treated to views of crocodiles, waterfowl, hippos and elephants. Our boat came a little too close to shore for the comfort of a momma hippo with her young one, leading her to snort and charge a few feet towards us. Hippos are herbivores but startle easy and will kill to protect themselves. They can snap a human in half with the strength of the jaw and teeth.
Exhausted we arrived back ashore and waited for Shady and Bowie to take us back to camp. Late dinner in the dark at camp, followed by a good night’s rest and off to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park the next day.