Chobe National Park...time to see some animals.

Chobe Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 25 › view all entries
Well I had hoped to see the big 5, but that is not possible in Chobe as poachers killed all the rhinos, so you can only see the big 4, but at this time of year, you will prob only see the big 2. A bit dissapointing, but still worth it. I got to go to Botswana and if there was any doubt about my returning to Africa it is gone as I love it here and can't wait to come back and see more.

The day trip from Livingstone starts out early (leave about 6 am), where they drive you to the border (about an hour away from Livingstone city center). The only thing seperating Zambia from Botswana is the Zambezi and the border control is very non chelaunt. There is a building off to the side where you can go and get your passport stamped, but there was no inforcement about doing it, plus it was super crowded with locals so it was a mad house. You cross the river on a big pontone boat carrying people and cars. It only takes a few min to cross as the river is not too wide. When we got off we had to wait to be picked up for the game drive/safari. The guy from the hostel pointed out this downed barb wire fence and said "stand you are in Zimbabwe". We are right at the intersection of 4 countries (Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe). The guy comes and picks up me and a Belgian couple who was working in the Congo. The border control was a bit more stringent here, we actually had to wash our shoes to get off any foreign mud particles, plus they actually questioned us about when we were leaving and such. Once at the office we pay and eat breakfast, met our driver and head out towards the park. We drove through Kasane, the border town. Where we saw monkeys and warthogs just running through the town like they owned it. Our diver said that sometimes elephants or lions come through, but the people don't bother them so they are not bothered by the animals. Or driver was white man of French heritage (several generations back). He grew up in Botswana and said that there are really no racial tensions here, especially in comparison to South Africa or Namibia. Botswana has one of the most stable economies in Africa and he as well as other Botswanians I met, are very proud of there country and how well off it is (except for the HIV/AIDS problem which he admitted is going to decimate the country in 20 years).

Once in the "bush" we headed straight for the Chobe River to see what is there. Since it is hot and hasn't rained in ages, most animals will be there to get water, or they are inland just sitting in the shade not moving. We saw buffalo, all kinds of birds, various antelope type species (even the very ellusive Sable), hippos, crocs and of course elephants. There were sooo many elephants it was crazy. Chobe has the highest concentration of elephants anywhere in the world, in fact they have 50,000 to many. They tried to take a few thousand to Kruger National Park in South Africa, but the walked all the way back to Chobe. Unfortunatly the only option left is to kill them and burn the bodies. This way poachers won't get the ivory. He really got heated on the poacher topic and said that he volunteers for patrol most nights and he said he killed one last friday and dumped his body in the river for the crocs. I sort of half laughed as I thought he was joking, but he turned to me and said, no he has killed several poachers and he enjoys it. You have to shoot to kill as they are crack shots and will kill you if they have the chance, plus he loves animals and would do anything to protect them. I asked him if he had ever seen the movie "The Ghost and the Darkness" about the man eating lions in Kenya that terrorized George Patterson. He said yes and that it was all bullshit. He said the only reason they killed people was because the people took away all there natural food so they had no other option. Back to the elephants...we saw a couple 2 or 3 day old babies that were so cute. They were really wobbly on their legs and couldn't use their trunks so they had to stick their faces in the water to drink. Unfortunatly we then headed inland to see if we could find lions or leopards or something, but no. I felt like I was in the first bit of Jurassic Park where everyone is getting pissed because they haven't seen a dinosour yet. We saw nothing, it was too hot. The guy did give us a plethora of information about all the animals and plant life we encountered which was very interesting.

We left the park and met our next guide who took us on a little boat trip (we got a very nice lunch on the boat) on the Chobe River to see the animals in the water close up. This was very nice as the breeze was fantastic and it was cool to see the hippos, buffalo and crocs up close. We got a bit too close to a buffalo who was on the island in the middle of the river and he charged us, we had to immediatly return to the boat and back into the water. Apparently they are very aggresive animals. After cruzing the river we head back to the border crossing.

The border crossing going back into Zambia was actually quite interesting. I mentioned before how shocked I was at the lack of border patrol, well as we were waiting we saw 30 or so people waiting for the boat who had cases of beer, coke, fanta, pillow cases full of bags of potato chips, everything that you find in grocery stores. When the boat came everybody straps the cases and such to their back and run on, then as we cross these little canos come up to the boat and people through their goods into the canos and jump in then they disperse down the river and into the bush. Some wait until they reach land then immediatly disperse into the bush. Only the 3 white people and a handful of locals actually went to the border patrol office. I asked someone what was going on and he said people were going back and forth illegaly to sell their goods. We were picked up and made it back about 6.
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photo by: Biedjee