Elephants Galore

Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Botswana  ,
Thursday, September 24, 2009

We left Victoria Falls with our new group and new tour leader, Innocent. Our first stop was to cross the border into Botswana.  We spent our first night in Chobe National Park, on the borders of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.  It is a wetland area known especially for its birds and elephants.  We started off our day with a boat trip down the Chobe river.  We were very lucky and managed to see many of the hippos (including many young hippos) on the shoreline.  A couple of them were play fighting for the camera which was a lot of fun.  It was midday and the sun was quite hot.  You would think that we would have been complaining about the heat but we weren't.  The scotching temperatures worked out super well for our wildlife viewing.  Many of the animals were at the water's edge for a drink.  We were even lucky enough to see a herd of elephants trample down the slopes towards the river.   There must have been at least a hundred of them.  They all came down to the water to drink, splash themselves and many of them even crossed the river in front of the boats.  They are amazing animals, they came so close to the boats it was breathtaking.  We really enjoyed watching them take dust and water baths.  It is amazing the dexterity they have with their trunks.   While watching them cross the river a couple of the young male elephants began to play fight.  They were head butting and climbing on each other’s backs.  They were even pushing each other down into the water.  The power they possess is unbelievable; you could just imagine what it would be like if they were full-grown and really fighting.  I would not want to get in their way!

In the afternoon we did a regular safari in jeeps before reaching our bush camp.  We saw a lot of beautiful birds (great for Troy, the ecologist on our trip who specializes in birds) and great for us (because Troy was able to identify the birds for us).  We did not see any mammals though.  We were just about to head back to the campsite when we heard Cort yell from the back of the jeep, "STOP".  Well, me being me, looked out the side of the jeep, saw the cat and thought it was a cheetah.  I don’t know why but I cannot seem to properly tell the difference between cheetahs and leopards.  It became a running gag on the trip, with a 50% chance, I would invariably get it wrong.  Needless to say it was a LEOPARD so we spent some time watching him relaxing under the tree about 10 metres from our jeep.  It was funny, you think that the cats would be more interested in the jeeps but they really aren’t.  They look at you like they would not even give you the time of day.  Oh well, I guess that is something that runs in the feline family, I swear my cat gave me that look all the time!

We then headed back to our primitive bush camp for dinner and campfire.  The night was very clear and we spent a great night stargazing and enjoying the sounds of the African jungle.  It was amazing to be so close to nature, although I must admit, we were all a bit worried when our bush guide warned us to go the toilet in the night in pairs.  Lions will only attack if a person is walking alone.  YIKES!  But fortunately we all survived until the morning and headed off on our safari out of the park and towards Namibia.
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