Monday, December 13, 2010

To Chobe We Will Go

With Miki gone, we knew our time in Arnie was winding to a close. Our little blue kombi had been good to us, but was sorely battered and bruised. For a goodbye trip, we decided a jaunt into Botswana was in order. Brett, Oliver and I would go to Chobe for one last game drive, then head back down to South Africa to sell the van. I had been to Chobe before, but the game viewing in Botswana’s first official game park had been magnificent the first time, so I couldn’t resist.
I waved goodbye to my friends in Victoria Falls and we pulled out our passports to enter a new country. Botswana was a relatively poor neighbor to Zimbabwe, but it seemed to be comfortable in its own skin. Images of poverty did not slap you in the face and gone were the tourist trappings of Victoria Falls. We were guests in a proud nation that seemed to take care of itself in a way that we had not seen thus far. A feeling of peace filled me as we drove towards the park entrance. I smiled at the dry landscape we passed and the beautiful people in their simply constructed rondavel homes. This was the Africa of my dreams.
While Chobe National Park is not Botswana’s largest park, it does hold some of the biggest concentrations of game. There are massive amounts of elephants. Hippos can be seen lazing on river banks or slowly drifting downriver from the multitudes of hungry crocodiles. Assorted deer species such as impala, sable, kudu, eland, bushbuck and waterbuck are found within the parks borders, as well as many of the Big Five (leopard, Cape Buffalo, elephants, rhinoceros and lion). We hoped to see as many animals as we could while we were there and odds were good in this relatively flat country.
 Our drive into the park heavily wetted our appetite for game viewing. Despite it being mid-day, which is not the best time to spy game, we were treated to tonnes of animal sightings. We saw impalas and giraffes, passed baboons and warthogs, and even spied buffalo and zebras. We were thrilled and anxious to set up our camp so that we could go for a proper game drive that evening. We knew that the best times of day for game viewing was between 6 and 9AM or 4 to 6PM. Most animals prefer to sleep during the worst of the heat of the day. We were not immune to the incredibly dry, hot weather either. After setting up camp, we retreated into our tents to snooze away the afternoon before heading out for our highly anticipated evening game drive after our plethora of sightings earlier that day.

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