Botswana at Random

Chobe National Park

Botswana

June 8, 2016

My plans for travel are loose at best but this time around I seem to have surpassed myself. Travels through Zimbabwe had been completely at random, on the advice of locals I met along the way but now, I thought I would make some rudimentary itinerary for the rest of the trip. But apparently my planning skills have gone into hibernation or have given way to the itch to wander at will.

Staying at Vic Falls in Zimbabwe, I was all set to cross the border into Zambia the next day when I started chatting with a group of people over wine and dinner. Caroline is a doctor from London and had just finished a project in South Africa; she was travelling for a bit in the area. Emily and Leena were sisters from Denmark who were touring some of the countries in their rented car. And Frans, a tour leader from South Africa specializing in wildlife had just finished a trip and had some time to kill before the next one. As we sat and chatted, the plan grew, firmed and it was soon decided. We would all go to Botswana. Emily and Leena had planned to anyway and Caroline decided to join us for a day. And Frans was happy to be my guide for the next few days. In spite of not planning to visit Botswana at all on this trip, here I was heading into Kasane, across the border the next day.

The distance from Vic Falls in Zimbabwe to Kasane in Botswana is not far and with barely a few vehicles, we were stamped out and stamped in record time. Frans has been here many times and brought us into Chobe, one of the vast national parks that stretches for more than a hundred kilometers to the south. We checked into a campsite at Chobe Safari Lodge and took off for a boatride on the Chobe river.

The Chobe river forms the boundary between Botswana and Namibia and the edge of this national park. Indigo blue waters sparkle in the sun, edged by trees that come down to the waterfront. There are thickets and bushes and some of the islands in the river have tall grass. Birdcalls pepper the air sometimes punctuated by the occasional bark of impala or the grunt of a herd of buffalo. A crocodile or two lie somnolent on the banks and a herd of huge bull elephants pull up tufts of grass, meticulously clean them by dipping into the water and shaking it. The meditative chewing has a single-minded concentration. A few pods of hippos are half submerged but come up now and then to make their fog-horn like bellows. One or two with their wide open mouths would make enviable patients of any dentist.

 

The animals in the park are so used to vehicles or boats that they show no interest in us even at a few meters away. The snap-happy boatloads of tourists frantically clicking away with our cameras are simply ignored.

 

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