Thursday, September 8, 2016

Chobe National Park--Our Last Game Drive

We were heading back into Botswana and staying in Kasane (No. 7 on the map) the place where we had visited the doctor at the beginning of the safari. Today we had 450 km to go.

It was a long distance, but the roads were great. Jim and I were sitting in the front seat behind Manuel and Mbusi today, so most of my photos were taken through the slightly dirty windshield. Watch out for elephants...

And I think this is a hyena...

We stopped at this service station so Manuel could purchase some minutes for his phone. It turned out that Mbusi had a family emergency and Manuel needed to make some arrangements for Mbusi to leave us. These boys were interested in us, but any time we tried to take a photo after this, they would duck behind the sign. Can't say I blame them...

We carried on towards Botswana...repairs were being made to the pavement and they were spreading hot tar with what looked like a big spoon.

Another balancing act...

We spotted many of these vendors along the side of the road and finally Barb decided she couldn't let another one pass by. She needed an elephant!

Carved out of one piece of wood, they were nice, but there was no way I was lugging anything that heavy around.

He had swords and giraffes and other neat items...

Robert decided to take a photo of the herd...I'd love to see how that turned out!

After several attempts at "No, Barbara" Ed resigned himself to the fact that Barb wasn't giving in. She promised to carry it everywhere. I was already laughing at that idea. This might be the third or fourth photo I have over the years of Ed with Barb's purse! Ellie was purchased, and we were on our way.

The kids were getting out of school. It was around noon hour so I'm not sure why there was this mass exodus. Some of the kids will walk a couple of kilometres home for lunch if their village is near.

We stopped at this hotel for lunch and to get a new driver. Sadly, Mbusi was leaving us...

Mbusi's brother was in the hospital having had an emergency appendectomy and he wanted to be there. We would miss him a lot. He and Manuel made a great team--always smiling, always willing to help us in any way.

Manuel had phoned ahead so lunch was ready and waiting for us. Nice grilled chicken sandwiches, which we ate while overlooking the Zambezi River.


It was back on the road with Roy, our new driver. We were still seeing lots of children in their school uniforms.


And it was time to leave Namibia and return to Botswana...


This looked like a lovely farm scene...

Here we are arriving at the Botswana border. We always had to walk through a disinfectant bath as they are trying to end foot-and-mouth disease.

These birds had made a nest right at the roof line outside the door...

Cleared to return to Botswana, we were on our way again...


Ellie-phants!! That was our song when we saw elephants now. Having photographed so many of them, we no longer felt the need to stop every time we saw them. We did stop for these ones as they had some pretty cute babies...

Fun in the bus! We had such a great group of travelling companions. We couldn't have asked for better.

We arrived at the Chobe Safari Lodge...our home for the next two nights.

Beautiful reception area...no tents here.

We lucked out and were given the family suite. We had more room and rooms than we knew what to do with. Jacaranda tree blooming near our room...

I think these were armadillos right outside our room. There were a lot of them...slight creepy, but they weren't interested in us.

The sun was going down on another great day.

The next morning was our earliest wake-up call yet. Up at 5:00, no breakfast and in the vehicles at 5:30. It was cold and dark. Here we are with many other vehicles arriving at Chobe National Park before 6:00 when the gates opened. Manuel made the point that tourists play two important roles: 1) entrance fees support park maintenance; and 2) just by having that many people driving in the parks, it helps stop the poachers.

Our first sighting was an African buffalo...


Some Egyptian geese...

Impala...

"What are you looking at?"

A houseboat on the Chobe River...that would be fun and a great way to see lots of animals.

Beautiful scenery everywhere...

In the distance, about 100 metres away, Manuel spotted some lions. This became a real game of Can You Spot the Lion? From that distance, they blended into the landscape. Those who could see them with binoculars, started the game of "see that bush? Now move slightly to left..." and so on. Finally, success! I pointed my camera and hoped for the best and was quite pleased to see...a lion!

And another...

The first guy was eyeing us, but we were pretty far away. Lions will eat anything that moves from birds to elephants. They kill elephants and hippos by biting them so the animal bleeds to death.

The second one was in a deep sleep...

It turns out there were actually five of them in that area. I don't think I ever spotted all five. Look! One of those blue birds!

The beautiful lilac-breasted roller...

And right after that we saw the kori bustard, which replaced the lilac-breasted roller as the national bird of Botswana in 2014. They are one of the heaviest birds capable of flight and are quite scarce.

We drove back by the lions...the one that had his back to us originally was now checking us out.

And we spotted two more...

This guy looks like a fairly young male with his mane just growing in...

Guinea fowl...we saw a lot of these. The recipe for cooking a guinea fowl: Put the fowl and a rock about the same size in a pot. Boil until the rock is soft. Throw away the guinea fowl and eat the rock.

It was around 8:00 a.m. and Kenny, our local guide, made us coffee, tea and a biscuit to tide us over until we returned to the lodge for breakfast. Oops, sorry Bruce! You need to find a bigger tree next time!

Mmm...coffee!

The Chobe River and the dry surroundings...

Lots of impala...

And hippos...

More sable antelope...

Criss-crossed giraffes...

I was guessing female on this one. Her horns looked like they had hair.

Yes, indeed...I think I was getting the hang of this!


And with that we headed back to camp around 9:30 for a yummy breakfast. There was a very nice pool which we didn't use simply because there wasn't enough time.

There was actually a "monkey chaser," whose job it was to keep the monkeys off the tables. They were pretty ingenious though and were giving him a merry chase. They loved to steal food!

Beautiful flowers...

I had read that there was a large baobab tree not far from our lodge, so we set out for a walk to find it near the Kasane police station. Success! It was a bit farther than we thought and really hot by this time.

And here is the base of the tree, which was used as a jail to "park" prisoners before they were relocated to other prisons. Another baobab tree is growing beside it.

Inside the baobab tree...

This gentleman struck up a conversation and turned out to be Scottish and knew the area of Kilmarnock where Ed grew up. Small world!

The beautiful bougainvilleas...

We headed back to the lodge and had time for a nice rest before leaving at 3:00 for a sunset river cruise. We saw so much on the river cruise, it deserved its own blog entry.

Up next, the river cruise...




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