Our train pulls into Livingstone Station at 10:00 this morning and having said our goodbyes to all our friends we take the minibus to our hotel which is at Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. Therefore the bus stops at the border to exit Zimbabwe then once across the bridge we have to get our visa to enter Zambia. This only takes a matter of minutes (not hours like before!).
We are staying for 2 nights at the Avani Victoria Falls Resort and on arrival we are welcomed by African tribesmen (photo opportunity!). The hotel really is stunning set in a nature reserve and therefore we are advised that zebra, giraffe, impala, monkeys and baboons roam free around the grounds. In fact as we walk over to have lunch a herd of zebra wander past which seems crazy as only yesterday we were driving for miles in the bush to spot them at a distance!
Fortunately mid afternoon we wandered over to check out at reception to see if the tour company Wild Horizons had left us a more detailed itinerary for our stay at both Victoria Falls and Chobe Game Reserve. The girl on reception said oh we've been ringing your room as your trip on the sunset cruise has been waiting for you! On our original itinerary this cruise was down for the next day so we hurriedly got on board the minibus and yet again received a rather frosty look from the other passengers......but it was not our fault this time! The result was a magnificent sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi River and soon after we cast off to the centre of the river we spotted a group of hippo's coming up for air. As the boat (aptly called the African Princess) sailed nearer one hippo loomed out of the water and gave a great yawn.....fantastic.
The river is very wide and as the sun set everyone was taking photos of the gorgeous sky.
We still have no detailed itinerary with timings for our trip and fortunately the girl on reception is able to get more information from Wild Horizons that the tour guide would be collecting us in approx 15 mins for our tour of Victoria Falls. Therefore we dashed in to have a quick breakfast before being called for the bus. Barry had a word with our tour guide that we were not impressed with the lack of information and he said he would get the company to confirm our pickup time for the following morning as we were travelling to Chobe in Botswana.
Due to Zambia having no rain since March the Falls on the Zambian side are just a trickle but looking across to the Zimbabwe side the water is cascading down the gorges, it really is spectacular. Once back at the hotel we decided to have a walk round the grounds and spotted zebra and loads of baboons. Barry was taking some photos of them when I got attacked on my leg by a mother with her baby. Still everything seems to be OK. There is a large lake in the complex and we are informed that there is a crocodile in there but he only eats fish! As yet we have not seem him.
We were having sundowners on the patio of our room when one of the hotel staff driving a luggage buggy stopped and asked if we had seen the giraffes. We hadn't and so I hopped on the buggy and he found where they were eating nearby. I got out to take pictures and one came along just behind me. They are so tall and so graceful.
Today we say goodbye to Victoria Falls and our driver arrives exactly on time to take us to Chobe. We think word must have got back to Wild Horizons that we were not happy with their admin as the first thing he hands us when we board the minibus is our detailed itinerary for the trips in both Vic Falls and Chobe.........pity they didn't give us this when we arrived on the 6th!
Still, the journey by bus takes approx 1 hour to the border with Botswana and here at the crossing we are asked to fumigate our shoes. This entails stepping into a small tin tray with an old towel soaked in disinfectant! They don't seem too worried about all the other shoes in our luggage which we have worn in Zambia!
It is then just a short drive down to the Zambezi River. At this point 4 African states meet, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The only way across to Botswana is by boat or very ancient ferries for lorries but we were told that they are currently building a bridge across which originally should have been ready in 2018 but they are running late so it will probably be 2019/20! Then it is just a 20 minute drive to our hotel the Chobe Marina. We have been given a suite here which is lovely and overlooks the Chobe River. As we walk down for lunch a group of warthogs are grazing on the hotel lawn!
Following lunch we are taken on a 3 hour river cruise. Chobe River is a subsidiary of the Zambezi and at present with no rain fall since March the water level is very low. There are a series of small inlets and islands where the animals are grazing but once the rains come and these are flooded the elephants and buffalo swim back to the main land. As we travel along we have Botswana on one side and Namibia on the other.
Along the way there are hippo spotted cooling off in the water. They stay close to the edge as they walk on the river beds. Then one highlight of the cruise we see a hippo come out of the water and walk along the bank, they really are huge! Continuing on we spot several crocodiles basking on the river bank. Water buffalo can be seen in large herds. Then as the sun sets we turn back to our hotel for dinner.
This morning it's an early start as we set off on the game drive at 6:00 am through Chobe National Park hoping to see lions and leopards. Luck is on our side and we soon spot a leopard (excuse the pun!) snoozing in a tree. It's very difficult to identify as the markings merge in with the tree. There are herds of impala everywhere and many are pregnant. Our guide tells us that they are ready to give birth but will hang on until the rains come and the grass grows so the babies have plenty of grazing. They can delay the birth for up to one month!
We then come across 2 lionesses and a cub. Unfortunately Barry's camera doesn't have a very good zoom lense so we have not been able to capture a photo for the album but I have it on video. It seems the cub's mother died and the 2 females have adopted it......ahh!
Finally a large herd of elephants came wandering across our track and include several young ones and a baby which our guide reckoned was just 2 days old! We have included a photo for the album. The baby walks almost underneath it's mum but there is no way it will get trampled on!
Then we drive back for breakfast and showers. Whilst we were on safari this morning there were a few spots of rain but nothing heavy. The temperature since we arrived at Chobe has been around 36/38 degs.
We say goodbye to Chobe and depart Botswana thankfully not having to be fumigated again! Then it was an hour's drive back to Livingstone Airport in Zambia for our flight down to Johannesburg for our overnight stay before flying out to Mauritius in the morning. There were big thunderstorms around Jo'berg but fortunately our flight captain manage to fly round them.
We are sorry to be saying goodbye to Africa, we really love the country and people and hope to return very soon.
Thank you for all your lovely messages we really love reading them.
Love to you all.
Mary & Barry xx