With the first week (well partial week due to the holiday and orientation) of volunteering behind me, it was time to play tourist for the weekend with some fellow volunteers. Given his much I enjoyed all of my safari excursions last year, it made sense to jump right in and head to Chobe located in Botswana.

In order to get to and across the border with time for a boat cruise before lunch, we needed to be up just as early as on a work day as our van was scheduled to leave between 6:15 & 6:30. The driver was a bit late, but I think all 13 of us were squished into a 9 passenger van and on the road by 7.

The boarder crossing was essay, but a bit different than when we came in from Zimbabwe last year. This time we had to exit Zambia, then get a ferry across the river where we met our guides who drove us the short distance to border control in Botswana. First there was an initial check of our passports to make sure we had not been to any countries with diseases they are trying to keep out of Botswana, then we got our official passport stamps. Just like last year, we needed to “clean” the bottoms of our shoes in some pretty mucky looking water.

After a short drive, we reached a lodge where we had a quick snack compete with real coffee and real milk – decadence after a week of instant coffee with milk powder. Soon after that we boarded a small boat and headed out into the Chobe River.

Many of the animals were the same as what I saw last year, but it is always interesting to try to add to the list as well as see the same creatures doing different things. He memorable sights of this part of the trip were

  • the elephant crossing
  • hippos lounging in the mud
  • a baby crocodile
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    And of course thee were plenty of fish eagles.

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    We then headed back to the lodge for lunch where we all gorged ourselves, most of us hitting the main buffet twice and the dessert bar at least once. After a week of white bread for breakfast, and launchers full of processed carbs such as white rice and pasta we welcomed those vegetables and feta cheese, and the meat eaters among us welcomed those selections as well. I particularly liked the warthog stew and also found the fish quite nice as I hadn’t has any for a while.

    After lunch we split into two safari land vehicles and headed out over land for more adventures. Some of the memorable moments of the afternoon were

  • the elephant greeting
  • a baby monkey
  • lots of kudu
  • warthogs sunbathing
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    But the best was left for last. With sunset fast approaching, and a need to be off of the roads by dark, our guide somehow, with his years of experience, found some lions. We saw five of them, a single female first, and then a group of four. Later we found out that they we’re part of a pride of 8.

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    Because of the time, we were only able to snap a few quick pics before heading to our campsite. Yes, those of you who traveled with me last year read right, campsite. The kind with real tents and food cooked over a fire that I recall saying I would never stay in on a safari a little over a year ago. We did have guides with us, so it wasn’t the self camp thing, but I must admit I was a bit nervous before hand about sleeping out in the wild.

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    Dinner was excellent and the campfire was delightful. But at 10 PM it was time to settle in for the night, bundling up to try to stay warm. Surprisingly I slept OK, we did have some mattress pads provided so we weren’t sleeping right on the tent floor. But around 4 AM I woke up cold and hearing something howling outside (later I found out it was a hyena) and am glad I didn’t know that at the time. Of course, even without this, there was no way I was going to get up to use the “facilities” until it started to get light.

    After a quick and light meal it was back I to the vehicles for a morning game drive. Where, amazingly, we saw more lions. This time we even saw another nursing to her cubs, very special.

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    And a lion greeting.

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    The other main sightings of the morning were lack backed jackals and of course numerous lilac breasted rollers.

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    We returned to camp for an early lunch during which we were graced by elephants right on the outskirts of the site and a striped kingfisher, who at first seemed out of place since we were quite far form water, but it turns out that this one eats insects.

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    After lunch we were back on the road for a bit more than four more hours during which we saw a tawny eagle almost carry away a francoline, but the eagle was young so its lunch got away.

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    We also saw plenty more zebra, elephants, giraffes, and different types of antelope, as well as an osprey who was migrating through at this time of year.

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    Most memorable during the afternoon was the moment at the end where we saw two young male giraffes mock sparring, with the young female standing nearby looking as if she just didn’t understand the guys – after all, boys will be boys.

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    And, even with the camping, and the hyenas, I will be going back to Chobe one more time before I leave Africa.

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