Day 305… After a mini camp brekky, its an enjoy an early morning game drive and get up close to the wildlife, where we spot impala, buffaloes, birds and elephants. Our camp is outside of Chobe National Park and has flush toilets and hot/cold showers. Our first glimpse of the river – deep and dazzling in the sandy terrain – is simply breathtaking. It appears as a swathe of brilliant, peacock blue ribbon, winding its way through the tiny town of Kasane, and ensuing wilderness – the Chobe National Park.
Undoubtedly one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, the Chobe supports a diversity and concentration of wildlife unparalled anywhere else in the country. Established in 1968, the park covers approximately 11,700 sq kms, encompassing floodplains, swamps and woodland. The Chobe River forms its northern boundary. There are four distinct geographical areas in the park: the Chobe Riverfront, the Ngwezumba pans, Savuté and Linyanti.
The most accessible and frequently visited of Botswana’s big game country, the Chobe Riverfront is most famous for its large herds of elephants and cape Buffalo, which during the dry winter months converge upon the river to drink. On our little expedition, we see dozens of elephants at one time wandering the velt bushland jungle. Driving the loops that hug the river’s edge, we get to see over 15 different species of animals including waterbuck, lechwe, puku (this is the only part of Botswana where they can be seen), giraffe, kudu, roan and sable, impala, warthog, bushbuck, monkeys and baboons (which, interestingly enough have an almost symbiotic relationship with impala in grazing and watching for predators), along with the accompanying predators lion and jackal. Our 1st jeep actually got to see a live leopard as it lie in the grass, but a mere 90 seconds later it was gone.
In the heat of the day is loll by the poolside here at our campground and enjoy a refreshing dip before we head out in the afternoon for a cruise down the Chobe River – one of the best ways to enjoy the park’s animals. This is simply ply an astoundingly jaw droppingly spectacular experience as we boat along the river through the park. The animals we get to see from this vantage point give us a whole new experience. We get up close and personal with hippopotamus both in the water and grazing on land, giraffe walking through the underbrush, elephants playing on the riverbank, crocodiles dozing and a mind-boggling array of water birds.
With over 460 bird species have been recorded in the park, this is one of Africa’s premier venues for bird Safaris. Common species to be seen include the Sacred ibis, Egyptian Geese, the ubiquitous cormorants and darters, Spur-winged Geese, pel’s Fishing Owl, carmine Bee-eaters, most members of the kingfisher family, all the rollers, the unmistakable Fish Eagle, the Martial Eagle, and many members of the stork family.
The Chobe River rises in the northern Angolan highlands, travels enormous distances before it reaches Botswana at Ngoma. Like the Okavango and Zambezi rivers, the Chobe’s course is affected by fault lines that are extensions of the Great Rift Valley. These three mighty rivers carry more water than all other rivers in Southern Africa.
This very special activity while staying at Chobe Game Lodge is unlike any other water-based activity in Botswana, the game viewing while cruising the Chobe River is epic. Elephants line the water’s edge, hippos congregate in lagoons, hundreds of antelope and giraffe make their way to the water. Because the boat is a stable platform – a mobile hide that allows the observer to get close to the animals without disturbing them, it enables us to capture hundreds of breathtaking images, especially of the elephants and babies bathing, drinking and playing. Just astounding.
In the evening we dock literally as the heavens open, proving as the great band Toto once claimed, that it does indeed rain down in Africa.