Seeing as Chobe National Park in Botswana was only an hours drive from where we were staying in Zambia we decided to do a day trip there. It wasn’t an easy decision though, the trip was bloomin’ expensive and we’d of preferred to stay overnight but our visa only allowed day trips to Botswana. In the end we found a guy offering the trip for $140 per person which beat the $170 we were finding elsewhere, although some people were charging over $200! The trip would include a transfer from Livingstone, Zambia to Botswana and then we’d be collected for a 3 hour game drive, buffet lunch, 3 hour boat trip and then a transfer back to Livingstone.
We were picked up at 7am for our drive to the border where we were greeted by our guide for the day called Philimo. We had to dip our shoes into something or the other to protect Botswana from any invasive species and then we went through a medical sort of check where they just asked for our passports and didn’t check anyones covid passes. We were loaded into an open sides safari vehicle with 6 other passengers. A solo Norwegian man in the front was very reluctant to let us take the two seats next to him, keeping his bag on the seat while we hovered hoping he’d take the hint. The border was interesting as it was just a huge room so we exited Zambia on the right side and just walked across the room to the Botswana side. Then we were on our way and as soon as we crossed the border there were impala and warthogs scurrying through the scrubs close to the road. By 9am we arrived at the entrance gate to Chobe National Park and began our game drive. The roads were much rougher than in Kruger, here it was 4×4 only with deep sand and rocks to navigate.
We slid across the sandy tracks, spotting Impala and giraffes straight away. There were elephants too and plenty of kudu with their fabulous corkscrew antlers. The track led us to the Chobe River where Namibia was just across the water from us. Apparently in the rainy season this road is totally underwater and you have to take a different route. We drove parallel to the river and soon stopped when our driver spotted a lion. There were actually three lions lounging in the shade but only one was facing our way for a photo. Further down the road Philimo said “Hyenya” so I began scanning the area but it was a dead one laying in the road. The strange thing was that it seemed very fresh but there wasn’t any blood or obvious injury. One side of its body looked wet and muddy like it had been in a mud-pit just before dying. The only animal that could of killed it without leaving any bloody is an elephant so maybe it was trampled to death…or I guess it could of been bitten by a poisonous snake.
We passed a lot of animal bones along the road too, many from elephants so we named this stretch of the drive ‘Death Road’. We veered back into the forest where elephants were pretty much around every corner. One herd had the most adorable little baby who was just a few days old and the mum protected it between her legs. Eventually the little baby walked out and we got a lovely view of the sweet little thing who had blood shot eyes – probably from being in it’s mums womb for almost 2 years!! It might of been a newborn but what dangled between it’s legs made it look way beyond it’s years.
There was some commotion nearby with another herd of elephants running and blowing their trumpets which is always exciting to witness. Just 100 meters in front of them, laying in the shade of a tree were around 15 lions. It was impossible to take a good photo as they had branches blocking their faces but it was nice to see more lions. We also spotted a stunning bird with the most colourful feathers. It had a bug in its mouth and was smashing it on a rock over and over again to try and kill the thing – turns out it’s not just the big predators making the kills around here.
When we drove back down to the river a couple of large herds of elephants had come down for a mud bath. There was quite a deep mud-pit and we watched as the babies tried to get back out but they kept slipping down the ledge so other elephants would use their trunks to help pull them out. Then they decided to cross the river and swim across to an island. I have no idea how the babies swam through the deep water but they seemed to do a sterling job.
After three hours it was time to head back towards a lodge in Kasane for our buffet lunch and it was so much better than I expected. I filled up my plate with a mountain of goodies from potato salad to toasted sandwiches. The only letdown was a vegetarian stew that looked suspiciously meaty and my suspicions were correct as it was riddled with meat. There was also a dessert buffet and homemade lemonade on tap so I was filling up on everything. In fact my plate was embarrassingly twice the size of everyone else’s but I finished everything (minus the meat stew which I passed onto Craig).
Then it was time to head to the river for our boat trip. Philimo was also the driver of our boat – a man of many talents and I have no doubt that if we were also doing a helicopter ride he’d be the pilot. There was plenty of life around the river with big groups of buffalo and an antelope we haven’t seen before who are said to be very good swimmers, although when they passed a waterlogged area amongst the grass they all chose to leap over it which was great to watch.
We also saw lots of hippos who were mostly in the water but one was grazing on the banks of the river with birds pecking at it’s back. Crocodiles basked in the sun and protected their nests from monitor lizards while fish eagles swooped down to catch fish. We also passed elephants and giraffes so overall we saw lots of wildlife and I’m very happy we did the trip but boy were we shattered by the time we got back at 6pm.