Friday, 4 December 2015

Beautiful Botswana. Chobe and Home. The Last Chapter.

From Magotlho we took the long sand dune route called the "Sandveld Road " via Savute to Kasane and our final stop at Chobe Safari Lodge. The road goes through Mopane scrub land, very dry and this year dusty. It was quite a tough drive through very deep sand in some places. 

After a few kilometres in the sand, we noticed a squeaking noise from our wheels. We stopped while Harry performed some first aid on the wheels and it was then we noticed that our shock absorbers, had been shocked into submission and had died. We fixed the squeak and carried on though the ride was somewhat bumpier! 

Just as well Harry knew what he was doing ! Den held the spanner. The road to Savute was long and when we finally made it, it was fascinating to see how the river had completely dried up. We met an elderly Italian couple here, very brave we thought and on there own, they asked directions to Maun! From here the road became a little easier although with our poorly shockers, still bumpy and hard going in places. In Africa it's either sand or gravel, I'm not sure which is worse. We managed a bit of game viewing en route.

Finally, civilisation. We arrived at Chobe Safari Lodge in Kasane. Always packed to capacity Chobe Safari Lodge is situated on the rivers edge, with a camp site attached. It is extensively used by safari companies.

Chobe Safari Lodge You Tube

 We quickly booked into our riverside room and had the luxury of washing the sand from our hair!

The camp site. 

The signs around the hotel amused us. There were monkeys, crocodiles, hippos and a delightful family of warthogs that also lived at the hotel. The baby warthogs with their mother had made their home in the hotel boiler room. The baboons were entertaining to watch but could be a pest, they were quite apt at unzipping tents and even knew how to open cooler boxes.

The safari lodge ran their own river cruises, very well organised and with staff who knew so much about the animal life. 

There were quite a few boats on the river but guides and boat crew were very sensitive to the animals around them and we managed to get some amazing game viewing.

Note the little friend being carried on his back.

The iconic African Fish Eagle.

Brilliant bird life along the river. It was almost as if the animals were on parade and this was certainly the land of plenty for them. The elephants were in their element.

Elephants as far as the eye can see, hundreds of them.

Big game was in abundance and in such an idyllic setting. The icing on the cake was the magnificent African sunset just made for a picture or two!

At 8 am the next morning we were boarding the coach for the day trip to Victoria Fall in Zimbabwe. Vic Falls is 80 km from Kasane and a day trip removes the hassle of getting vehicles across the border. As it was the border crossing took some time and was expensive for holders of UK Passports, it cost us around £50 each for a visa, expensive for a day trip.

Vic Falls is a typical tourist resort but well worth the visit. We went on the unguided visit so were free to amuse ourselves for a few hours. the bus dropped us off outside the Falls and arranged to pick us up at 3 pm.

Our first sight of the falls. The amount of water pouring over the falls creates the tropical rainforest conditions with very high humidity. As it had been so dry it was bearable and we did not get too wet. The camera does not really do justice to the experience but certainly the Victoria Falls is a must for visitors to the area.

Livingstone I presume ? To think that someone could actually find this place without modern means of communication and navigation is a miracle in its self. The Vic Falls carried on giving in terms of photo opportunities and we were amused by a few young girls who were taking selfies at every turn. It's sad but we had to join in, Harry took one of us.

Yes, we were really there.

The local fishermen take there life in their hands to provide food for the table.

The tourists take their life in their hands for a photo. A number of people die each year when they slip over the edge a young Dutch guy was killed last year.

The contrast between the excesses of the West and the poverty of people in Africa was so visible here. I wondered how much the tourist paid for the thrill and what the fisherman's family ate that night?

Africa was very dry this year and the Victoria Falls had not been so dry in living memory. Less than one third of the water was flowing with the consequence that on the Zambia side of the border there were very few tourists.

This should be flowing with water. Global warming perhaps, the weather in Africa is also changing.

We take our water for granted, but when the mighty Zambezi River ceases to flow it may be too late for our children.

Harry could not believe how much the river had changed from his visit a year ago. Even in the dry season there should be more water. We left the Victoria Falls global warming at first hand is so scary, where there should be tropical rain forest there is dry dust and dying trees.

We left Chobe and and said goodbye to the elephants on the way. At least they are thriving here.

Africa at it's finest, such a contradiction of life. So much and so little.

Our route around Botswana 3625 K ( 2252 miles) in total.

A little round up of our trip. South Africa and Botswana in 6 minutes!

The big question is where to next ?? I have a feeling we may be back.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Beautiful Botswana. Elephants,Hippos, Hyenas and Crocs ! Part 4

After a beautiful two days in Moremi it was time to go. The next stop was the Mogotlho Camping Site, just outside the North boundary of Moremi run by the Khwai Development Trust. This is a community run campsite. The campsite here aims to benefit the community, the funds it generates pays for medical facilities, houses and schools. The camp sites are used extensively by tour operators except for the one at Mogotiho which is for self driving visitors. You have to be pretty much self sufficient here as there are no facililities.

Leaving Moremi we drove through some wonderful scenery.

We took the scenic or "Harry Route" which basically meant following the river through the bush. It was a stunning drive, rich in game viewing with the most elephants we have ever seen. We drove North out of Moremi into Khwai where we stopped for bread.

Khwai was an interesting little village. The bread was freshly baked in the bread oven round the back of the shack, very tasty it was too.

Ever onwards, we rounded the corner and came upon scenes that looked just like pictures in a Children's Bible. Animals of ever kind by the river, absolutely an amazing scene and certainly one to return to!

Elephants in family groups and lone bulls were everywhere. We found a spot to set up our last camp of the holiday. Just far enough away from the river.

Making friends with the locals. We went for a little explore the hippos were getting friendly.

We hoped they stayed on their side of the river.

Someone was watching us. Hopefully he knew his place!

Everywhere you looked was something new.

Even the scavengers were fascinating. Around the next corner was this hyena in close pursuit of a pregnant female. Sadly I couldn't get the camera out fast enough but Den did get these pictures.

Finally as the sun went down we settled down for a really peaceful night. I really did hear a lion roar in the distance but no big cats came our way. I was secretly rather pleased that elephants and hippos stayed away from our camp.

Tomorrow, the road to Chobe paved with sand and the end of our adventure.
For those of you who have stayed the course with this blog, The Final Chapter, Part 5 to follow.