Chobe National Park (October 21 – 23, 2017)

Chobe National Park was one of our best safari experiences to date, and though we are still travelling around Botswana, I feel it deserves its very own post. After finishing up in Livingstone, we took a taxi to the border to cross over to Botswana.  One of the more interesting border crossings in Africa (potentially the world?) as it is the place where Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia meet! Surprisingly, it couldn’t have been easier for us to navigate once we were dropped at the correct location. Passports were stamped and we hopped on a small ferry that got us to the other side in under 5 minutes (future travelers – they are currently building a bridge so that’s pretty exciting!).

We were instantly surprised (and delighted) at how cheap the taxis are as it only cost us $3 to get to our hotel (a far cry from the Victoria Falls prices!). We stayed at The Old House which, though slightly more expensive than our other accommodation (about $150 USD per night) BUT our room was big enough to hold a family of 5. And in the end, it was excellent value as the restaurant was inexpensive and the excursions were the cheapest we’ve experienced yet ($35pp for a 3 hour game drive or 3 hour boat safari) so all-in the cost per day compared to other places we’ve safari’d was excellent!

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After a restful night’s sleep on our first day, we had an early wake-up for our game drive with Chaplin (aka Chaps) and a lovely German couple. Within 20 minutes of driving we came across an amazing sight – 2 leopard cubs playing in a bush! It was our car and maybe 3 others and we had the pleasure of watching them for awhile before they made their way out of the bush and down to the water for a drink (away from our car, but still within view). Before we knew it, there were 10 more safari trucks in the area. Chaps told us we should be patient and just hang out in that area in front of the bush for awhile, and I’m so glad we did! After 15 minutes, the mother came from the plains and crossed right in front of our car to meet her cubs (who had gone back into the bushes). We couldn’t believe our luck!

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By now, there were probably close to 20 safari trucks, we’d never seen anything like it! Again, Chaplin recommended we hang around for a bit, and soon after the majority of the trucks drove off, the mother came out and walked to another bush. She then proceeded to drag an antelope carcass out of the bush to her hungry cubs.

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It’s a weird thing, being on safari and watching animals in the wild. Under no other circumstances would I be interested in seeing an animal kill another (not that we witnessed the actual kill), but somehow you appreciate the hard work of the leopard and understand that it really is the circle of life (thanks to The Lion King for teaching me that important lesson). By now, we were all feeling excited and super lucky, and if the safari had ended then we would have had an amazing time. But we still had an hour and a half of driving through the magnificent Chobe National Park, watching antelope, buffalo, crocodile, hippos and elephants. We even got a few mongoose running around our car.

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We were back by 10am and had a lovely breakfast before getting out of the heat until the afternoon. That afternoon/evening we went on our first boat safari which was a really cool experience! Our guide, Dish, was a lot of fun and the first truly sarcastic person we’ve come across in Africa. He was so dry that I think the humour went over most people’s heads, but James and I enjoyed it.

We cruised along the Chobe river, entering the National Park and spent the next few hours drifting along the water and checking out a variety of different animals. Our favourite was the hippos as it was our first time seeing them really close up. A few were even a little rambunctious, play fighting with each other and trying to show their teeth.

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The other awesome part of the boat safari was the sunset, which was spectacular. All in all, it was an awesome excursion!

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This is a great stop for anyone visiting Botswana, or even Zambia as it’s only an hour from Livingstone! Next we were heading to Jo’Burg to pick up our rental car; the next 6 weeks we’ll be on the road in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa so stay tuned!

-Catie xx

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