After a few days in Zambia we travelled to Botswana for a few days of safari, but definitely more of a luxurious one than we had done before. After a very early morning pick up 6.45am, we travelled to the Botswana border, which incidentally is also the Namibia and Zimbabwe border. (Also, apparently the world's smallest border between 4 countries!) In the middle of the Zambezi River is where the four countries meet. There is no bridge across, only a ferry. Huge lorries are backed up for miles as they wait their turn to cross, some wait a long as two weeks as the ferries can only take one truck at a time. But as this was a specialised tour we had our own private speed boat to take us across!! At the other side we were met by our Chobe game park guide who showed us to a safari 4x4, which would take us to some fancy lodge. The lodge was amazing but we were only there to get on our boat, for the river cruise! At US $1000 a night it was a bit over our measly budget of £40 a day!!
The river safari was amazing and we saw so much (probably the most we have seen so far), including mad hippos, fancy birds, hungry crocodiles and loads of elephants.It was amazing getting so close to the elephants and the hippos in the wild. If only our pictures could do it justice, but sadly they don't, as it is something that you have to see for yourself. The river safari lasted three hours, which took us to lunch time. When we got off the boat in the middle of the game park, a 4X4 was ready and waiting for us to take us to our camp. We were staying in a tent within the game park with no fences and surrounded by nature. We weren't too nervous about the whole thing, as there were 16 of us camping and we had our trained guides, but when we arrived at camp our tracker spotted leopard paw marks!! Apparently leopards attack more humans than lions, not a fact I (James) was best pleased with. Anyway, when we had sorted out our tents, lunch was served and we were off again.
We were desperate to see a leopard, from the safety of our 4X4 and with a trained guide, of course. Our tracker spotted some tracks in the sand and the chase began. We were zooming here, there and everywhere, but the elusive leopard just seemed to be 10 minutes ahead of us. The thrill of the chase was awesome!!! As the sun began to set we had to give up and head back to the camp!
Waiting for us was our evening meal- chicken curry and rice - in the middle of the game park!!! We ate round the camp fire, sharing stories with the other travellers. Some have such amazing stories. A retired 65 year old teacher has adopted 5 Ugandan teenagers, was home schooling them in Uganda and seeing them through university! Another older man had lived in Zambia since the 70s working in a hospital and said he won't leave until the cure for malaria is found! Wow - it made our story of travelling the world seem pretty selfish!!!
Bright and early (we seem to have had far too many early mornings already!!), we set off on our last game drive!! This time the guide had heard there were 2 lions roaming, glued to his CB radio we raced round to the last sighting point, to arrive at a small gap in the scrub surrounded by at least 10 other safari vans!!! Literally we had hit a traffic jam in the savannah!!! The other guides were trying to point out the lion to us… well to us it looked like a bush!!! These guys are amazing, how they spot these animals is unreal!! Anyway, the lions had wandered round and now fallen asleep (typical, all our lion spots are of them sleeping!!)!! After the lions somewhat disguised head, we also spotted a hyena gnawing an elephants bone, a lone male elephant (apparently searching out a female elephant!!) and a few giraffes!
A good old English fry was waiting for us back at the bush camp, before we headed back to the boat for our return leg of the journey!! From the boat this time we saw more hippos - including a lone, beat up and injured hippo, who had been defeated by the larger group we saw further up river - and literally hundreds of elephants drinking from the river! Really, we could spend all day watching these huge beasts!!
Although a totally different experience to our self drive safari in Kruger, this was truly amazing in its own rights!! The guide was brilliant and so knowledgeable about the wildlife; we certainly would never have seen half of it without him!!