On Wednesday, we went on a day trip from Victoria Falls to the Chobe National Park in Botswana. It was a long day and certainly one of the highlight days of our entire trip. Chobe National Park, in northern Botswana, has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa and is the third largest park in that country,
For the first 35 kms, we drove along the two lane highway towards the Botswanaian town of Kasane. This road carries a lot of heavy trucks because it it is part of the main freight route from Botswana to South Africa. Nevertheless, it has a good surface and was easy to travel on.
Just out of Kasane, we had to pass through the border post between Zimbabwe and Botswana. This meant standing in a queue in the sun while the immigration officials inspected our passports and stamped them so we could leave Zimbabwe. This was repeated again (with another form to fill in) just down the road where went through the Botswana immigration post. In the afternoon, when we returned to Victoria Falls, we repeated this procedure in reverse.
Fortunately, tourist vehicles don’t have the same problems as the semi-trailers and trucks. At the Botswana post (coming back into Zimbabwe), I noticed a white truck driver sitting in a deck chair reading a book. Assuming he would speak English, I walked across the roadway, and fairly congested parking area, to speak with him. He told me that he was carrying a load of iron and steel from Botswana to Pretoria in South Africa. He had been waiting for four days for his permit to be approves to enter Zimbabwe. I don’t have any idea as to how he might have costed this delay into his freight price. All he could say is “This is what to expect in Africa”
Just down the road, we reached Kasane which is close to Africa’s ‘Four Corners’, where four countries almost meet: Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is at the far north-eastern corner of Botswana where it serves as the administrative centre of the Chobe District. It has a population of around 8000 people and briefly obtained international fame as the location of the remarriage of Elizabeth Taylor to Richard Burton, in 1975. Across the other side of town was the lodge where we would be based for the day. Our morning activity was a three-hour game drive through the National Park and then lunch and an afternoon cruise on the Chobe River (a tributary of the Zambezi).
The original inhabitants of this area were the San bushmen (also known as the Basarwa people in Botswana). They were nomadic hunter-gatherers who were constantly moving from place to place to find food sources, namely fruits, water and wild animals. You can still find San paintings inside rocky hills of the park. At the beginning of the 20th century, a major part of the park’s area was classified as crown land. The idea of a national park to protect the varied wildlife found here as well as promote tourism was first raised in 1931. The following year, 24,000 km2 around the Chobe district were officially declared non-hunting area; this area was expanded to 31,600 km2 two years later
The park is widely known for its spectacular elephant population: It contains an estimated 50,000 elephants, perhaps the highest elephant concentration of Africa, and part of the largest continuous surviving elephant population.
This day was a wonderful time for us to spot animals. We were a bit disappointed on our game drive that we only saw one elephant but we soon made up for this on our afternoon river cruise. Apparently in the cooler months, the elephants move inland and away from the river. Wildlife is generally prolific in this area and I’ve included a sample of some of the animals we saw below:
The solitary elephant we saw on our game drive
Warthogs are everywhere.
Egyptian Geese are so named because of the dark ring around their eye which is supposed to look like Cleopatra’s make up.
A female Kudu. Every animal has unique stripes
A pair of ever present female Imapla
A Superb Starling with its iridescent foliage reflecting in the sun
An elephant grazing on the swamp gras in the river. Elephants need to graze all day. They need to drink about 100 litres of water per day.
A mass of water birds
Elephants having their afternoon drink at the river
Giraffe walking along the river bank
Hippopotamus mostly stay in the water all day as they are sensitive to the sun, They come out to graze at night.
A Water Buck with its white ‘target’ on its bum
Male Kudu (the female does not have horns)
Three metre long Nile Crocodile basking in the sun.
Baboons are smart animals that live in ‘Troops’