Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta

We made a few border crossings through Zimbabwe into Botswana.  We were told to get off the bus before we got to Botswana as we had to step on what looked like a dirty dish cloth next to a foot and mouth disease sign.  We then walked into a small room off the side of the road to get our passports stamped, and  pick up free condoms if interested.  A small room with big service.

We got to the "driveway" of our hotel and were dropped off on the side of the road since the bus we were on couldn't drive down the thick, deep dirt to the entrance.  Safari jeeps met us, we loaded in, and moved into our new huts at Chobe Chilwero.  Again, no fear of roughing it here.

Our other game lodge in Botswana was Sanctuary's Chief's Camp.


My dad tried to complain about the slightly more primitive living conditions here with no A/C, no phone, and no TV, but I wasn't having it.  We were still living well.


This did, however, begin, our mandatory escorted walks to our rooms in the evening.  I rolled my eyes at this, but after hearing loud noises at night and getting trapped in my room one morning by a dozen wild baboons sitting on my patio, I thought, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea after all. 

We also started seeing a few more "supplies" on our bedside table that included supersound noise makers and walkie talkies, which we were told to use if a wild animal was in our tent.  They would certainly hear some noise from me if that happened.  Then there was the product Doom, best used on smaller flying creatures.  If you get doom on your clothes, it will burn through to your skin, so yeah, we had enough chemicals to ward off many things, including cotton.

We explored Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta.  Each day there were 2 game drives.  The first left at 6:30am and got back sometime before noon, and the second left around 4pm and was back about 7pm, before dark, and usually after a gorgeous sunset.

They start you off with the intro animals.  The impala was a staple the we couldn't get enough pictures of in the beginning, and then by the third day, we'd drive past them like they were part of the scenery.

The guides had to up the ante each time, so at first it was, how beautiful, the lone impala.  Then, it was oooo look at the impala next to the elephant.

Then on the final day, as if on cue, they showed us the first born impala of the season.  This little thing was about a half hour old and the impala pup immediately got on her feet and attempted to walk.  She was walking like a drunken sailor, but awfully cute.


Zebra were another plentiful commodity.  They are fascinating to view as no two coats are the same, like a snowflake (a black and white one that is).  They say that when a baby zebra is born, the mother spends several hours a day for the first few months studying the child so they can identify them again.


There was always a daily sighting of a warthog.  One of our game trackers adored this seemingly unlovable creature.  A face only a mother could love, but interesting how they sit on their ankles to eat as their necks aren't long enough to reach the ground.


The giraffe stood majestically high above the plains.


The hippos are highly protective of their young so when our boat got too close to the pack, the momma reared up to tell us who was boss.  She didn't need to tell us twice.


If you didn't know the reputation of a hyena, from its looks, you might just want to curl up with the fuzzy creature.


The rhino was a massive, unicorn looking creature, without any fairy dust.


We had a random ostrich sighting.

The elephants were plentiful, and magnificent.  They are such huge creatures that when you see them travel in the packs that they do, it's quite a sight.


We even saw a herd of them run, which is unusual, but they were in desperate need of water.

It was amazing how close we could get to them.


The elephants were even in the yards of our camps, and also provided an amazing backdrop at sunset.


Then there were the impressive big cats.  We found a leopard sleeping in a tree, which seems like no easy feat, but certainly a safe place if you can maintain your balance.

We also watched one on the prowl, who in turn watched us.


We had several lion sightings, with one better than the next. 


The best was seeing the lion cubs traipse and play like children while they crossed the grass.

While we didn't see any "kills," we did see some of the aftermath and feasting.


There were many more animals, and it was truly awesome to see so many magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, up close and without barriers.


After a great day of seeing an amazing collection of animals, we would have a drink and snacks off the back of the truck while the sun went down.  They pulled out all the stops for our grand finale bush happy hour.

We had many lovely meals, including a build your own pizza lunch, and a BBQ dinner.  You probably don't want to know what was on the grill.  By the end of the trip, I was eating a lot of fish.


We were also treated to live entertainment by some of the local people.  They are required to sing in school so many have amazing voices and the dancing would tell a historical story.

We move out of the bush for out last stop of Johannesburg and Soweto.

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