Africa/Middle East 2014:
Day 6 - Chobe National Park, Botswana


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Africa/Middle East 2014: [Day 1 - Virginia] [Day 2 - Senegal] [Day 3 - South Africa] [Day 4 - South Africa] [Day 5 - Zimbabwe] [Day 6 - Botswana] [Day 7 - Zambia] [Day 8 - Tanzania] [Day 9 - Qatar] [Day 10 - Abu Dhabi] [Day 11 - Dubai] [Day 12 - Oman] [Day 13 - Bahrain] [Day 14 - Jordan] [Day 15 - Jordan] [Day 16 - England]

Thursday, November 20, 2014: At breakfast, Andrew put out a spread of fruit and breads for us ...
... and cooked up some bacon and eggs to order.
Of course, the guinea fowl pair joined us after a while.
We had booked a day trip to Chobe and our driver, Oliver, picked us up from the lodge right on schedule.
He took us to the Safari Par Excellence office on the grounds of the David Livingstone Safari Lodge where we paid for our tours, including the one we'd be taking the next day.
Then we set off on the 45-minute drive to the Botswana border.
We stopped at a police check point, which turned out to be a common occurrence on this vacation.
We passed small villages where thatched roof huts were still in use.
We reached the Kazungula border post where our driver helped us through immigration.
Then he led us past the aggressive vendors to a waiting speedboat.
The Kazungula ferry can carry only one truck at a time, so trucks are backed up in both directions.
We crossed the river and were able to see three different countries at once: Zimbabwe at the far left, Botswana right next to it where the ferry was, and Namibia off to the right.
We landed on Botswana, ...
... and could see Namibia right across the river.
Our tour guide for the morning drive met us at the river.
He helped us through immigration on the Botswana side.
It was less than 20 minutes to Chobe National Park, even including the police stop we encountered. This sign warned about driving carefully at night because of wild animals.
We saw lots of termite mounds along the way but no wild animals.
We reached the entrance at Chobe National Park and our driver took care of our entrance fees and lowered the windshield on the truck.
Off we go! What will we see?
We spotted a pair of kudus in the brush right away.
We saw an impala right after that. Our guide told us confidently that we'd see many more before the day was over and we wondered how he could be so confident. We understand now.
We got to the river and saw some marabou storks.
One was picking at the remains of a Cape buffalo carcass.
Sure enough, we saw more impalas. It had rained a week or so back, and all of the impala mothers had their babies as a result. So we saw lots and lots and lots of impala babies.
This pair of African fish eagles posed nicely in a tree for us.
Here are some female waterbucks, ...
... and here is a male waterbuck.
This was the first dung beetle we saw. I guess we knew they were real but had never really given much thought to seeing one in real life. They're endearing little creatures because they are very busy moving dung and with many elephants in the area, there is so much dung to move.
This is a yellow-billed kite.
We saw lots of elephants and this is one of the first herds we saw.
Hippopotamuseseses! We hoped we would get a chance to see more of them later. (Spoiler alert: We did.)
Here's a male impala ...
... and a nursery of baby impalas.
Here are more impalas hanging out in the shade.
One impala played host to a red-billed oxpecker for a few minutes.
Here's an African openbill stork.
We saw two baby crocodiles in the water, then left when our driver wondered where Mama was.
There we go -- there's a little bit more of a hippo to see.
These are Egyptian geese.
Here's a handsome warthog.
This is a white-backed vulture on his or her nest.
See? Dung beetles are such hard workers.
We saw a herd of elephants pass by us in the distance on the way to the river.
While we watched them, we realized that another herd was headed there too, so our driver backed up our truck far enough so that their path would lead them right in front of us.
Here they come!
We saw close to 20 elephants pass in front of us.
Like RIGHT in front of us.
Even this little guy.
This Cape buffalo was enjoying a morning snooze in the shade.
More elephants with their adorable babies.
Something died here. No idea what.
There's something very sinister about a sign for a picnic site with a pile of very large bones underneath it.
We saw a couple of banded mongooses (mongeese?) scamper across the dirt.
More elephants and babies.
The body that belonged to this Cape buffalo head wasn't anywhere nearby.
This was the second monitor lizard we saw.
More elephants featuring the tiniest elephant baby we had seen so far.
Our guide explained that these young male elephants were engaging in a greeting ceremony because they were meeting for the first time.
This was a welcome sight: a restroom break.
We weren't the only truck enjoying a brief stop here.
We had some refreshments in the shade before setting off again.
This warthog mama had four adorable babies.
This elephant was very pregnant. While we watched her, we saw something very large move inside her.
It's true. This truck could make it past any type of road obstacle.
This is a pretty view of the Chobe River.
From far away, we could see a large herd of hippos. Some were on the river bank and a bunch were in the water, so we knew we'd have some good viewing opportunities later that day when we went out on our river safari cruise.
Here's a red-billed hornbill.
Giraffe! No way! Our driver knew a route that would take us closer to him, ...
... and we were rewarded with a close-up view of three giraffes!
This picture is one of our very favorites of our vacation.
Here's a tawny eagle.
We left the park almost 3 1/2 hours after we entered, very pleased with everything we had seen.
Then we headed back toward town and went to Chobe Safari Lodge. We were hoping we'd end up here so we could bring Orchy back to the very same place that he'd visited back in 2006. There's a new sign, but the location is the same.
Here's the lodge itself.
Our driver arranged for a table for us and then we helped ourselves to the delicious buffet lunch in the lodge's open-air dining room. When it was time to leave for the afternoon safari cruise, he introduced us to the person who would be taking us. At no time during the entire day were we ever unescorted, which was very nice.
So, we boarded the boat and took seats along one side.
Our first order of business was to go to the park entrance to get a permit to be in the park.
While we waited for our permit, we watched the baboons on the river bank holding their babies.
We also saw a great cormorant on a branch just above where a crocodile floated in the water. We didn't include the photo of the crocodile here because there are much, much better and bigger crocodile photos coming up shortly. Trust us on this one.
Hippos! Sure enough, we were going to see hippos. Lots of them. Up close.
Like these.
Here's a crocodile.
We saw the Cape buffalo carcass that we had previously seen from the truck. We wonder if it's at all disturbing to the live Cape buffalo to be so close to one of his fallen brethren. As before, a marabou stork was standing watch.
OK, now we're talking. These are some seriously big hippos and for a change, they are actually above water.
Wow, that's a big crocodile. Our guide estimated it to be 3.5 meters long, which makes it about 60 years old.  They grow up to 6.5 meters at 120 years old. This photo gives you an idea of how close the river boats came to these scary animals.
Here's a herd of Cape buffalo.
As our boat got closer to shore, this guy's death stare at us became more intense.
Here are a couple of hippos starting their journey across the water to another island in the river.
We did not lie about the crocodile photos getting bigger and better. This dude was huge and when he decided to jump into the water right in front of us, we got slightly concerned for our safety.
An island in the middle of the Chobe River was finally decided to belong to Botswana instead of Namibia, which is probably why the Botswana flag flies over it.
We sampled a delicious pineapple Fanta in addition to several Coca-Cola Lights and plenty of water during our cruise.
Here we have a great egret in background, and some blacksmith lapwings in the foreground.
We passed this huge houseboat, the Pride of Zambezi. According to its website, it's an upscale five-bedroom slice of paradise.
So, that's Namibia. We'll just add it to the list of countries we've looked at but not actually stepped foot upon.
Also in Namibia was this interesting structure with a beautiful thatched roof. Tree limbs were used for some of the vertical supports.
We got lucky when a hippo decided to yawn and Debbie managed to get her camera out in time.
We returned to the dock two hours after we left.
We said farewell to the Chobe Safari Lodge and its welcoming pool, ...
... and we began the long process of returning to Zambia: the drive back to the Botswana border station, going through immigration there, riding the boat ride across the river, the insistent "no"s to the vendors on the Zambia side, and going through immigration at the Zambia border station.
Finally, we were in our morning driver's car with only a 45-minute drive ahead of us. So, we relaxed and ... Maersk!
Maersk again! We had seen both of these on our morning drive but were just getting better shots of them.
Forty five minutes from the border, we were back in our Guineafowl chalet where we had some precious time to decompress and get ready for dinner.
In this photo, our chalet was on the left, with three others visible.
We were the only diners again this evening, although other guests checked in during our meal.
Debbie's entree this evening was grilled Spanish-style rump steak with roasted peppers and chilli sauce topped with crème fraîche. The sauce was especially tasty.

Tom had enjoyed the nshima the night before so this evening he got really adventurous and ordered it with kapenta, a tiny fish served dried and crunchy. Debbie wasn't a fan but Tom didn't mind it.

Day 7 >


Africa/Middle East 2014: [Day 1 - Virginia] [Day 2 - Senegal] [Day 3 - South Africa] [Day 4 - South Africa] [Day 5 - Zimbabwe] [Day 6 - Botswana] [Day 7 - Zambia] [Day 8 - Tanzania] [Day 9 - Qatar] [Day 10 - Abu Dhabi] [Day 11 - Dubai] [Day 12 - Oman] [Day 13 - Bahrain] [Day 14 - Jordan] [Day 15 - Jordan] [Day 16 - England]

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