Sand & More Sand
We had a long day of varied travel today: mokoro, helicopter, small plane, and finally truck. Once at the Kasane airport we met a couple from New Zealand who joined us for the rest of our adventure.
One thing about Chobe – it is very sandy and driving around is like being on an ATV. This is different than our other excursions; Chobe is a national park and vehicles must stay on the “roads” (generally sand). There are also more vehicles than we have ever seen; it’s reminiscent of our visit years ago to Yellowstone.
In Chobe we are doing something I doubt any of our friends would try – we are going to stay in a mobile camp – & Beyond’s Chobe Under Canvas. Having always read about the “Hemingway-style” safari experience, I wanted to be sure we tried it all. But we were going to have a lot of excitement prior to arriving at camp.
First, we drove through the park and eventually stopped at a shady area along the Chobe River for an unexpected picnic lunch. Then, along with our fellow camp-mates and Ranger Peace, we took a boat trip on the river. It was beautiful and an incredible green contrast to the surrounding brown and beige sandy terrain. We had two particularly amazing experiences; the first seeing so many hippos in and out of the water.
Then, incredibly we saw a herd of elephants cross the water to an island – and then, we could not believe our luck, they crossed again, to the other bank. They were a breeding herd of females and kids – with one really tiny one. They use their trucks as snorkels and the little one bobbed up and down! If I could post the video from here I would – it’s an amazingly special sight to see.
Finally as the sun went down we reached the camp. They were waiting for recharged batteries for the lights in the tents (and the truck had broken down) so we didn’t get to organize before dinner. Drinks were with the other 8 guests around a campfire and dinner was with crystal, linen and china by lantern light. Although we were told Lions roared during the night – I heard nothing and slept like a log.
It isn’t getting any easier to get up and hit the ground running so early in the morning . . . we were back up with the promise of going back out in the boat.
We took a lovely ride on this cool morning to a nearby island for a nature walk and lesson. Disho taught us about tracking, identifying animal poop, setting traps for animals and many local hunting customs. Being with Disho is like having an anthropologist with us – he is amazing. Before we knew it two hours had passed and it was time to get back to the boat. Once on, we headed back to the fish camp for our promised breakfast. We were not disappointed by these incredible generous and hospitable people who had prepared boiled fish for us. The fish (ours was Tilapia) which was served along with an incredible fish broth, was delicious. Mu husband and I shared a fish – which we ate in local custom – with no utensils, just our fingers.
Amazingly, this group had a generator which provided a small amount of light, a radio and power for several freezers used for the fish they caught (generally with nets). Other fish was being smoked, using an old metal bed frame.
Our afternoon adventure included a trip on a local mokoro. We drove to our launch site and observed wildlife along the way including a herd of about 200 Water Buffalo. Mokoro are canoe-style boats that were traditionally wood, but are now made of fiberglass to help protect the environment.
We cruised down the Matsibe Channel, sitting at water level, gliding through reeds watching the incredible African sunset. With a full moon rising on the other side, we agreed it was incredible ending to our time in the Delta. Then we landed and were greeted by the Lodge staff with wines and a variety of goodies. Just when you think they can’t come up with anything else – they throw one more surprise your way.
Tonight at dinner I tasted Impala – it’s not for me – once again, they are just too cute.
Now, to prepare for our departure to an “under canvas” camp, we are off to sleep al fresco in our second story open-air loft (all made up for us complete with mosquito netting). We’ll see how long we last up there; the Hyaenas have been making some noise tonight and a bunch of Monkeys seem to be waiting for us, playing in the trees.
PS – we did not last too long outside. Bats seem to love me and a couple came in just after we were settled. Of course there were lots of sounds, but the final blow was a very loud thud with no “voice” sounds . . . My husband speculated it might be a leopard and that was enough for me.
So, back in our room, finally asleep, I am awakened by something moving through the leaves and figuring it’s a Hyaena, go look outside seeing nothing. Minutes later a very large Elephant is right outside our screened walls! Seemed like just a few feet from the end of the bed. Later we had Hippos also outside the room. Hard to get back to sleep after all that . . .