Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Thursday, April 02, 2015

7. Chobe, Botswana, Southern Africa

Chobe, Botswana, Southern Africa

We made reservations for the Chobe Game Lodge but to get there we had to go through border checks. One check to sign out of Zimbabwe and that was rather quick.
Border Between Zimbabwe and Botswana
Two people were ahead of us. The guard stamped our visa and we were given a small piece of paper to allow our driver to bring us to the official border into Botswana. We were handed off to a Botswana driver who gave me the impression that he was mad at me. That was just my impression. After a short drive we came to the border into Botswana. A queue of about 30 people were lined up and standing in the blazing sun. No shade; this border crossing is not set up to be user friendly. We had no choice but to join the line. After standing like this for about 10 minutes,
On the Way to Chobe Lodge
(the line moved very slowly), this mad looking driver came to us asking for our passports. A few minutes later, like magic, we had our visas glued into our passports and we were taken to a small, dirty, squishy foot mat to wipe our shoes. This is called Disinfection?  We stepped into the same open cab, mud covered safari truck and were taken to the Chobe Game Lodge.

Dining Room Chobe Game Lodge

Situated inside the Chobe National Park, the Lodge is a pretty site. Amazingly run and set up. This place is what you think of when you think of a classy Safari Lodge. Forward looking in many ways, Chobe Lodge hires only females as tour guides and drivers for their Safari truck fleet. This is a break in tradition which makes the women drivers very, very proud and happy. Sure there are men around but for the Safari drivers to be women, wow, that is seen as very cool. Those drivers were good too. The Chobe Lodge is the best place we stayed in while visiting Botswana.
Chobe Lodge

OK, so after our arrival we skipped lunch but took the late safari drive. We drove for hours but did not see many animals. Towards the end of the tour, we were watching a  pride of lions from a safe distance, when about 6 or 7 Buffaloes emerged from the woods, crossed the road at a gallop right in front of us and entered the plains. One of the animals seemed to have an itch. He rolled himself into
The Victim Buffalo

the mud whenever he saw a puddle. While doing this he fell more and more behind the pack. He stood out, his behavior was odd. And of course the lion pride noticed. Like a well oiled, well organized setup, the stalking began. And  we sat in the truck and kept watching. Some people were hoping to see a kill of the buffalo; some were hoping the buffalo gets away in time. The stalking by the lions was very slow; a step forward and then a freeze; two, three more steps and freeze.
3 of the 4 Females on the Hunt
Getting Ready to Attack

Four female lions were the hunters. Like a team, they worked together and each one knew the other. Meanwhile the clueless buffalo was rolling in mud, totally oblivious. It took some time and the lions came close to the wallowing beast when somehow, maybe by instinct, the buffalo stood up and started to run towards his distant herd. The lions were a bit far away but gave chase anyhow. One female even managed to jump on the back of the now galloping buffalo but could not hold on and was thrown off. A second lion ran beside the

buffalo yet could not reach a soft spot to latch onto. The buffalo got away but just about at the last moment. The lions stopped the chase. The hunting party was over – for now.

So, OK, we did not see many animals but this was as good if not better. But we did see mongoose, baboons and a grazing hippo.


Next morning we skipped the morning tour. I had a bad night with colitis and decided instead to talk to a Dr. in the town of Kasane, a medium-sized town nearby to get some flagyl to help me along. Botswana, maybe all of Africa, has some good Doctors. The ones I met were all very helpful, friendly and quite different in their
Baboon Family

personal approach. I like those guys, they improvise, but they know their stuff. They wear casual street clothes, some are even in flip flops, yet it works. There is a network, the pharmacist, the lab dude, the doctor all know each other and each one supports the other. The people know how it all works and it runs like clock-work. I received my meds, the prescription written on the back of a torn off, then again ripped in half, used
Grazing Hippo
piece of computer paper. The stamp from the doctor was proof for the pharmacist. Paper work all done, the medication can be issued. It works, not fancy, but it works. I paid the doctor 400 Pula (US $50) and the pharmacist 36 Pula. We were back at the lodge for lunch. There was no waiting when I went to see the doctor, no filling out tons of forms, answering questionnaires that almost seem stupid, like are you pregnant now, etc.

Chobe River Safari
After lunch, I had some local oily fish, we took a nap, and I felt the fish repeat on me. Well that happened before with other food but it is rare for me. So we took the activity for the afternoon, a boat ride on the Chobe River. We were lucky to get close to elephants near the edge of the river, but the elephants were shy and careful. All land animals in Africa know that being near the edge of the water is the most dangerous spot and is

where they are most vulnerable. It makes for skittish animal behavior. Even big elephants react this way. So anything that looks not quite right is spotted by the guard and the whole group pulls back to safety. Next on our boat trip we came to a herd of impala who were just approaching the water’s edge but they never came near the water; they spotted us on the boat. Finding and camera hunting live, wild animals is not that

The Chobe River is the dividing line between Botswana and Namibia. While Botswana sits on a higher plateau, the Namibian side is a huge flood plane. The Botswana side is a National Park; the Namibia side has small, widely dispersed villages living within the Floodplain. The Namibian people hunt for a living or for sustenance. While we never went to the Namibian side of the river I am not so sure those people in their small canoes are not poaching game from within the
African Fish Eagle
Botswana side park here.
That might also explain the skittishness of the animals.

While searching for more animals, near the middle of the river, my stomach finally revolted and I jettisoned the little food and the oily fish over the stern of the boat.  There was nothing I could do. Embarrassment in front of the other passengers could not be helped and be damned anyway. The fish had to get back to the river.
Stork, Air Drying Feathers

We found no other animals of note so we returned to the lodge. It was a good outing except that my body temperature went up to 39 degrees or something near that. Carol grew very concerned and suggested we scrub the Okavango part of the trip. I was told that the Okavango Delta is the area with the most wildlife and I always wanted to see it. Actually it was the main reason for being In Southern Africa for me. How can I cancel this part of the trip, the crown jewel of safaris? We decided we will see in the morning and decide then.
Momma and Baby Hippos

For today we had enough. I ate nothing for dinner and slept poorly, waiting for morning, waiting to see how my nutty body reacts.
We are off to Okavango under protest from Carol.

Momma and Baby Baboons

Predator Waiting for Dinner to Walk In


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