The second installment of our report from the lodges and camps of Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Day 1: Our final day and what a way to spend it … up at 0630, full English or Botswanan breakfast! Then off with Shomi into the National Park. Drove along the main tar road to Park gates – very cold and thank goodness for my Peruvian woolen hat, scarf and gloves. Finally took them off when we were in the park and out of the cold wind. Drove to the river front and boarded a small cruiser with other visitors (about 8 of us in all). Justice was our very capable and informative boatman great knowledge of wildlife.
Cruised for two hours around the channels and Justice explained about the problem between Namibia and Botswana re the ownership of the islands in the Caprivi Strip.
Fishermen from Namibia in dugout canoes come over to fish on the Botswanan side.
Several houseboats on the river and I was pleased to see the Zambezi Queen (although looked grey coloured instead of white). Water levels are good at the moment but I feel that in October when my clients are booked to cruise on the Zambezi Queen, they will be restricted to the main channel.
So many sightings of hippos standing in about 12” of water mid channel with egrets standing on their backs. Crocs bathing in the sunshine.
Elephant standing in the channels browsing on the foliage and generally keeping cool.
We were all taking photos when suddenly something caught my eye on the river bank …. a whole herd of sable burst out of the bush racing down to the water to drink. I let out a very NON PC shriek saying ‘this is the best sighting ever’!
We were quite distant but no less dramatic!... couldn’t believe my eyes . There would be about 30 sable including bulls, females and youngsters.. which were light brown in colour. They raced down to the water and seemed to really enjoy the drink .. although I noticed some were keeping watch just in case of predators.
There seemed to be something going on in whichever way we looked --- next big spot was elies drinking at the waters edge later when we were cruising along only a few yards from shore. Giraffes in profusion.. one came to drink and I felt he was put off by our presence. Eventually after about 20 minutes pacing back and forth, he parted his front legs in classic giraffe style and bent down to drink. Other giraffes came as well so what with the elies, giraffes and sable, all amazing footage.
Birdlife included white fronted bee eater nests in banking, fish eagles, tropical boubous, herons, storks, geese, ducks, jacanas and skimmers.
Large troop of vervet monkeys -one with half tail which affected his balance but he managed somehow to keep up with the troop, including up and down trees slithering and sliding!
Arrived back at the jetty and then set off on a game drive. Luckily all sorts of sightings including elephants in profusion; buffaloes (dugga boys.. old male buffaloes); male and female mating lions who gave us a big growl as we drove past; also male kudu with 3 females and unusual mating display. Impala dragged up a tree by a leopard, although no sign of the predator.
Lioness by river stalking wart hogs (one eye lioness) but she had no chance as wart hogs simply too fast. Then the lioness ran after some giraffes and the giraffes started splashing the water … in annoyance!
Around 1430 when we were definitely starting to feel peckish, Shomi stopped by a shady place overlooking the river and he surprised and delighted us with a feast for the eyes and our hungry tummies. Table/table cloth set up, chairs and we tucked into a delicious buffet including pizza, chicken, beef, potatoes, salad, etc etc washed down with chilled white wine and beers. As we were packing everything away, a herd of elephants walked by about 20 yards away totally unconcerned by our presence.
We made our way to the river and drove along the ‘beach’ constantly encountering interesting sights such as a puku who had somehow got stranded on a sandbank between two channels. His herd were over on the opposite bank and he was going back and forth frantically to try and find a way to join them. We prayed that he did before darkness fell.
We headed back to the park gates then back to the tarred road and several times we had stop as small herds of elephants crossed the road in front of us. Back to the Lodge at 1900.
Freshened up then joined the other guests at the bar for our final evening in Africa.
Day 2 (Chobe to Kasane to Johannesburg)
Up early as I had arranged to go for a site inspection to Muchenje Lodge (sister lodge to Ngoma) and where we often send clients. Muchenje is on the same escarpment about 15 minutes away and I arrived at 0800 and was shown around by the manageress. Very impressed by Muchenje, different décor to Ngoma, much more traditional and lower cost. Great views over the Chobe River.
Back to Ngoma and packed up ready to leave camp.
Bade farewell to Mena and her staff and left for Kasane International Airport for our flight with South African Airways.
Depart 1400, arriving Johannesburg 1550 (SA8304)
Four hours connecting time to enjoy the shops in Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport. Check in for South African Airways flight (SA234)
Depart 2005, arriving London Heathrow terminal 1 at 0625 (Thursday 09 May)