A 0515 start was just what everyone needed…we downed our tea and toast, and navigated through the fog of sleepiness to set out on the early morning game drive. It was a slow morning, most likely due to the rains. The elephants, giraffes and zebras which were all in abundance the previous day had vanished. We saw many smaller creatures like the slender mongoose, a huge troupe of baboons as well as a spotted hyena for good measure. There had to be slim pickings at some point, but at least we were able to tick a couple of new creatures off the list. Having the lists really helped because the kids started to take an interest in birds, trees and other less exciting things. We were glad to be back at the lodge by 0830 for breakfast.
Included as part of our stay, a full day game excursion was included so of course, we had to go! We were back heading towards Kasane by 930. After the 1 hour drive, the group hopped on to 2 boats to cruise around the Chobe River. The Chobe River has the unusual feature of flowing in both directions! In low water, it would flow into the Zambezi River and when waters are high, the Zambezi would backflow into the Chobe River. Chobe National Park also boasts a phenomenal array of birdlife. Elliot was kept busy ticking off his personal checklist whilst Ali named as many birds as he could see and Uncle Euhan took photos of them! It was a bird spotting paradise.
|Breakfast upon our return from the early morning game drive. Communal dining like at dinner|
|Getting ready to go on our cruise|
|Birds birds everywhere!|
|Time to eat|
|We got really close to this fellow...|
It wasn’t long after we started on our cruise that we spotted our first hippopotamus. Our 534,943 shots of the hippocampus turned out to be a waste of time as we saw plenty more at much closer range! Babies included! Our relaxing cruise included a simple lunch before we headed back on shore to begin our drive back to the lodge via the water front within the Chobe National Park. On our way back we saw baby crocs shuffling towards a lake to eat frogs, but then it started to rain, the ponchos came out and it felt like the guide was going through the motions with no animals left to see. We were wondering when he was going to call it and then everything turned around and it ended up being our most productive drive to date!
It all started with a toilet. A slowly building level of discomfort and anxiety was relieved by the cleanest toilet in Botswana. After that, the cookies and drinks came out, the sun started to shine and all the elephants that had supposedly run to greener pastures were now found around every corner. We drove in amongst a massive herd of buffalo that rearranged themselves into a wall of horns upon hearing a lion raw. We followed the roar and saw impalas and kudus scampering. Our guide mentioned that the impalas were giving out their warning calls which meant a lion was likely nearby. The two safari jeeps set out on parallel paths hoping for one to at least find it but it was not to be. What we found instead was far more exciting…the very rarely seen brown hyena with an impala in its mouth. Nearby were jackals from which the hyena likely stole the kill. Even Ali was excited and asked for Eu Han’s photos. The last saw one in the parks two years ago and some of the guides had never seen one. Either that or it is a conspiracy to make us very excited and give them a bigger tip!
Again, a nature break proved to be a sign of good fortune. Were it not for the break, we would have driven ahead of a very large and also uncommonly seen pack of wild dogs (painted dogs). They were racing across the hills and Ali put the pedal to the medal to keep up with them. The children were shrieking with excitement. It felt like we were in a scene from Lord of The Rings where the Warg were running chasing the hobbits. The pack were being led to a kill that one of the members had made. And just like that they disappeared.
By now, it was dark. We were wet, we were tired and we were very glad to be back at the lodge. The lovely staff had organised a birthday cake for Elliot for all the guests to share! The lucky child had a third birthday celebration Botswana style! Their singing was joyful and very different in style to the Namibian’s. The owners of the lodge were also very generous in giving Elliot a small gift.
|SO many hippos|
|THE stop that changed everything...|
|Huh? You talking to me?!|
|Buffalo relaxing until the lion roared|
|The pack of wild dogs!|
|Here's one that actually stood still...|
|The rarely spotted brown hyena|
|A very happy Elliot with his scarf!|