Our campsite on the Chobe River provided the perfect preview for our first game drive. All night we could hear the sound of hippos. They actually sound like a movie psychopath laughing. Before the sun rose, the four of us and two others were loaded into an open top truck for the short drive to Chobe National Park.
In the first 30 seconds inside Chobe, we saw a clan of hyenas, which interestingly are BOTH male and female (we later found out this is not true! – tour guides in Botswana are only required 4 weeks of training). They could be one of the ugliest creatures on earth.
Within the first hour, we had also seen groups of elephants, giraffes, impalas, kudus and water bucks.
As we drove down by the water, a lazy hippo woke from his slumber on land, took a morning dump and slowly sank into the water.
When a male hippo poops, his tail spins and shreds the poop.
It is exactly what I imagine it would look like to throw shit through a fan.
The major spot of the day was a pride of lions off for a hunt. The group of close to 8, a mix of females and young males, wrestled and headed off from the king. For the most part, lions sleep 21 hours a day and eat once or twice a week, so it was exciting to see them so active. We couldn’t believe our luck! Plus, they walked right between the trucks…not everyone was paying attention.
Being our first game drive, we were so overwhelmed by the overall quantity and proximity of all these amazing animals. It didn’t matter what we saw, we were giddy. A mongoose was just as exciting as a water buck or a warthog. This made it even harder for us to understand why there was a couple on our truck asking if we would see any owls. To each their own…although the fish eagle does remind me of the American bald eagle and you can never get tired of seeing the little hornbills from The Lion King.
I honestly still can’t believe that these game drives are about $25 a pop. When you research Africa, you find luxury safari’s that cost $500/person per day, and think, how will I ever get to do that? Then once you arrive, you realize that how affordable it can be, especially if you camp – which can be surprisingly luxurious, with pools, hot water, cabins and bars.
One game drive just wasn’t enough. We had the bug. We decided to go on a sunset safari cruise along the river–a totally new perspective from the morning.
We were able to pull the boat up within a few meters of elephants (which gave us a chance to learn more about elephants than we had anticipated – specifically the never before mentioned fifth leg. We joked that since an elephant’s penis is about the same size and weight of Joshua, we might have to create a new list for the “Big Five.”)
Visiting the park at sunrise and sunset truly was amazing. That is when all the action happens. We saw so many hippos, crocs, baboons, warthogs, African buffalo, giraffes and especially, elephants.
We were lucky enough to witness a family of about 20 elephants prepare for and embark on a river crossing where the juveniles had to lift their trunks out of the water, like snorkels. It was breathtaking.
We’re still learning how to use our new camera. The sunrise and sunsets here in Africa are bright red. I only wish we could figure out how to get the color to translate into our pictures. We probably took 600 photos between the two drives, so now we are learning how to edit and DELETE.