The Land of the Giants

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
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Trip End Jun 01, 2012


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Flag of Botswana  ,
Sunday, April 29, 2012

Crossing the border into Botswana was an absolute breeze in comparison with entering Zimbabwe. It took less than an hour and there were no silly roadblocks to contend with once we were through either. They are still concerned about foot and mouth disease, taking certain precautions such as allowing no meat or wood through the border. They also have this ridiculous section where you have to drive your car through this dark brown puddle and walk on a damp rag to decontaminate yourself but as this only applies to the shoes you're wearing I don't know what's stopping you sticking some foot and mouth infested shoes in your bag.

Anyway, we noticed the difference between the two Countries almost immediately. We drove through Kasane to get some supplies and the shop was fully stocked, reasonably priced and actually a lot like South African shops. The main difference being that when we drive to the Spar in Jo'burg, there isn't usually a warthog wandering down the main shopping street or dodging cars through the car park.

We then drove a few kilometres from Kasane into the Chobe National Park where we were camping for the next couple of nights and started a two hour game drive which was probably the most successful we have had yet. As soon as we got into the park we started to see elephants, hippo's, impala, warthog and kudu. 

 I reckon that in that 2 hours I probably saw more elephants than I have seen in the rest of my life previously, they were absolutely everywhere and were wandering around in huge herds with loads of babies sheltering in the middle of them. They are so cute, perfectly formed but just in miniature. The only problem with there being so many elephants is that you can't help but cross their paths and the teenagers don't like it, they flap their ears and turn to face you edging towards the car until you get out the way. One of the babies even got a bit brave standing next to it's mother and trumpeted at us, which was far cuter than it was threatening. 

 We also saw buffalo in a similar quantity, it almost became boring because you would see elephants and buffalo around every corner and behind every bush.

Along the way we also saw giraffe, waterbuck, a gigantic crocodile, fish eagles, vultures and marabou storks before the highlight of the drive. As we came around a corner, two lionesses walked in front of the car and over to a pack of four other lionesses. We had seen lions in the Kruger but only from a distance, and now we could see them up-close, just 10-20 metres away. We think there were 2 adults and 4 teenagers and they were all sat lazily together shading under a tree looking a bit menacing and impressive.

The only problem with seeing the lions is that our campsite has no fences so they could potentially wander through at night. Speaking of which, the first night was like being back at Mana pools on the first night there, we were camped right next to the Chobe river and the bank is very low. This made us a bit nervous of crocs and hippo's as they could easily wander straight off the bank into our camp. 

 We had our dinner which was pretty uneventful and went to bed, but from 1am until 5am it was basically impossible to get any sleep. There were hyena's laughing, then fighting and screaming near the tent, baboons climbing on our tent and scrabbling around outside, hippo's grunting nearby, something else splashing in the river and something roaring not too far away. Disconcerting, doesn't begin to describe the emotion and Katy insisted that we tie a knot through the tent zip to stop anything from opening it and getting inside. Anyway, you'll be pleased to know we survived the night and the following night we didn't hear anything. Perhaps we were too tired from not sleeping the previous night.


 We found that the morning game drives at Chobe were way less impressive than the afternoon ones. It seems that every afternoon the elephants make their way to the river, cross over to the other side, wash and play before coming back the other way. This means that on your game drive you get pretty involved with their activity as hundreds of elephants are crossing the roads and milling around nearby. We often had to stop to let the elephants cross and some of them are just stubborn and refuse to let you go. There was one female who was stood under a tree next to the road looking at us, almost looking like she was dancing crossing her front legs, then her back legs, next thing she lies down half across the road in the tree's shade. There's no doubt in my mind that elephants have a big personality. We were there for ages as she lay down, then decided to get up again all the while refusing to let us go past. We gave up and turned around only to be mock charged and trumpeted at from both sides by teenage elephants. We just sped off as quickly as we could to get out of their way.

Probably the best thing we saw was by the riverside as we could watch the elephants crossing the river. The water was quite deep so they would go right under but stick their trunks out the top and they would help the little ones across. Once on the other side we watched as they played, bathed and ate. There was a baby elephant who was chasing the birds, it's the cutest thing ever. He would sprint off and you could just see these birds leap into the air, then he'd quickly turn and head for the next ones. 

 Chobe is a very special place, and we really enjoyed watching the elephants, you really do get up close and personal which is fun but a bit scary at times.
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