August 2nd- 4th, 2012
The third part of our adventure was by far my favorite! We spent a quick day and a half in Chobe Game Park in Botswana. This park is huge – 100 sq. meters – and is home to the largest population of elephants in Africa – 600,000 of them!
To get into Botswana we only had to drive an hour to the border with Zambia and then cross the Zambezi River into Botswana. At this point in the river you actually are looking at four different countries at once: Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. The River serves as the border between them all. Chobe Park is close to the border crossing has the Chobe River running through it creating a border between Botswana and Namibia. The Chobe River eventually combines with the Zambezi River that creates Victoria Falls.
We stayed in a lodge right along the Chobe River and in the 1.5 days we were there we went on three safaris: two game drives, and one boat safari. The first night was the boat safari and we took a three-hour tour around Sidudu Island, which lies in the River. Botswana and Namibia were fighting over custody of the Island and Botswana won after the case was brought to the international court, because it wanted to keep it part of the animal park and Namibia wanted it for agriculture purposes. Since the river is a constant source of water there was a lot of animals congregated on the island. We got so close to elephants it was unreal. We also saw up close hippos, water buffalo, crocodiles, impala, water monitor lizards, and tons of birds (storks, garters, eagles). It was really cool.
On our only full day in Botswana we went on two three-hour game drives in the park; one at Sunrise and one at Sunset. I had a bit of reverse culture shock here in Botswana. I came to Africa with all the best adventure equipment and quickly learned I needed very little of it to actually survive here. My neutral colored, quick drying clothes were quickly replaced with the hippest African trends, and my sturdy footwear has been replaced with heels, boots, and flats. However now that I’ve joined the tourists here in Africa I have found myself in the middle of an REI catalogue. My new African wardrobe that blends my into my community in Swaziland has left me looking very flashy amongst the oh-so-prepared safari goers. At times I just wanted to say “I bought this in Africa” just so people wouldn’t judge me on why my pants didn’t zip off at the knee. Anyways, despite my bright colors we saw more animals then I ever imagined we could. Probably 50 giraffes, half as many elephants (including babies – adorable), mongoose, antelope, guinea fowl, zebra, lions from a far distance, hornbills, warthogs, baboons, and kudu. I could go on game drives all day. You get tired from searching but when you see something it’s such a rush!! This full day of drives also happened to be my birthday – most amazing way to turn another year older. To celebrate myself I also took advantage of the hotel spa and got myself a message and then we had a nice candle-lit dinner with wine over looking the Chobe River.