Today, we take a transfer into Botswana and enjoy a cruise around the waterways of the Chobe National Park in the morning. After lunch, enjoy a safari along the banks of the Chobe River marshlands and see elephants, impala, giraffes, hippos and much bird life. FB L
Shaped by three great rivers, the Republic of Zambia lies on a high plateau of Central Africa with chains of hills rising as high as 2,100 m. So although it lies within the tropics, its elevation tempers the high temperatures and humidity usually associated with tropical countries. The country covers 752,620 sq km and some 11 million people including more than 70 Bantu-speaking tribes live here. Lusaka is the capital and the main towns are Kitwe, Ndola, Kabwe and Livingstone. Livingstone is named after the famous Scottish explorer David Livingstone who explored the areas around the Zambezi River and arrived at the stupendous cataract of “the smoke that thunders” on November 17, 1855. Patriotically, he named the Falls after Queen Victoria. Zambia shares the Victoria Falls with Zimbabwe, and many visitors are day-trippers coming over from the Zimbabwe side of the falls.
How the day turned out
The weather is much warmer in Livingstone compared to South Africa. We are into shorts and summer wear, and the sunscreen is being applied. Breakfast is at 6:30am before a bus transfer to the crossing into Botswana. We arrive at the crossing and as was explained to us on day one, “expect the unexpected in Africa” and the ways of Africa are quite evident here. This is a customs and immigration point and there are plenty of people milling around, just watching. We are not too sure who the officials are, so we allow our Tour Director to do the immigration departure formalities on our behalf before boarding little boats to cross the great Zambezi River into Botswana. At this point, there are four countries meeting at the one point – Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
Once across the river, we have to complete immigration for just the day, and individually. An interesting point is we have to step on a greasy rag to decontaminate our shoes for foot and mouth disease. This is done out in the open and doesn’t seem to have anyone controlling the process – you “just do it”.
At the Chobe Lodge, we board our water transport for what starts off as a relaxed routine, “this is a bird”, “this is a crocodile”, “this is a hippopotamus”. Our guide notices quite a number of elephants up the way a bit and suggests that if we hang around we may see something fantastic. He is right on the money. Gradually, a whole herd of over 40 elephants gather just up from the swamp and then together, make their way towards the river’s edge. Earlier, one “mother” elephant had tested the waters, crossed on her own, and waited around. There are many little baby elephants amongst the group too. Slowly, the herd start to cross the river. It is obvious that the water depth is higher than the little elephants but the larger elephants keep them in between and they are safe. You can see trunks poking up from the water like periscopes. The whole herd move together as one and then slowly walked up out of the water, with some little ones staying for a short break before moving to the greener pastures.
That was a “two thumbs up” experience. “Just amazing”. I just felt we had witnessed a ‘sacred moment of awe’, always to be remembered. Nature doing its own thing, guided by inbuilt wisdom and an attitude of care. And this was just the second game reserve we are visiting out of a total of 8. What else is in store for us?
We are running late for lunch, which has been prepared back at the Chobe Park Lodge, but the return voyage is taken up reflecting on what we had been so privileged to experience.
Our afternoon safari commences at 2:00pm and we board 4WDs in groups of 9 or 10. Chobe Game Reserve is both swamp and African bush. We see giraffes as we make our way to the edge of the wetlands and a bright little bird sitting high in a vegetation-bare tree. Just after we photograph, the pretty bird flies off and the bright blue colour of it’s wings is just magic to me.
We pass many more elephants making their way towards the wetlands, for the afternoon ‘glass of water’. A giraffe comes down too but doesn’t take on board any liquid. It would have been nice to have filmed it spread-legged having a drink. There are many hippopotami in the distance, grazing on the short vegetation. A few crocodile ply the waters nearby.
Ever too soon, our safari has come to an end, and we make our way to the border again and on to Livingstone for dinner and a must sort after rest.