vinod : October 2007 Archives

Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls

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Due to the incompetence of a single woman with Iberia in Barcelona, we missed our planned Johannesburg to Victoria Falls connection. More on that another time as everything worked out nicely in the end…

When we finally got onto our British Airways flight to VFA the following day, it was like boarding a Southwest flight to Tampa—nothing but old Americanos on a package tour. Luckily this riff raff was behind the curtain in coach. But seriously, these people were really annoying and they were all on our return flight, too! Mucking up queues left and right and in general just talking way too much. Thankfully, aside from the airport we didn’t have any run ins with them.

Okay, so we get to Victoria Falls and a dude I arranged a pickup from grabs us and we’re on our way to Chobe Savanna Lodge (in Namibia). Serious immigration hokey pokey here. We drove an hour, checked out of Zimbabwe/into Botswana then twenty minutes later we check out of Botswana while hopping onto a little boat to cross the Chobe River into Namibia, where we made our final check in. Passport stamps galore. (Later we'll tell you about the drunk immigration officer in Kasika, Namibia...)

It was about a 40 minute boat ride to our lodge, but we went at a leisurely pace with our guide Calvin to look for some wildlife and had no idea what we were in for…

We were squinting looking down the Chobe River ahead and saw some large outlines in the water. Turns out it was four elephants swimming. We sat and watched them swim across the river and hop back onto shore.
Cruising along again, we find ourselves watching some hippos on the bank. Turns out that two of the males are squaring off. We watched an hour long show about hippos fighting on Discovery HD not too long ago, but apparently sometimes real life trumps high-def. This was a fantastic sight and sound. Even watched the dominant hippo spray his poop on the other with his wagging tail.

hippo.jpg

Photo uploading ain’t great right now, but between this boat ride and one the following morning at 6am, we saw: 150+ elephants, a lone giraffe in the distance, oodles of birds (Lillie has turned into a birder!), three varieties of antelope (puku, impala, and bushback), 50+ hippos, crocodiles, water buffalo, warthogs, water monitor lizard, a baby crocodile, and more. Pictures of all this will be on smugmug.com when we return. But here’s one photo we’re quite fond of:

elephants.jpg

Having conquered the water, we did an afternoon drive into Chobe National Park in search of more. Immediately upon entering the park, it poured rain. Usually when it rains, all the animals think to themselves that there must now be water everywhere so they scatter. Neither of us were very optimistic about seeing much…

But then we saw a pride of lions snacking on a baby elephant. Unreal. (this photo is kinda bad....will post better later)

lions.jpg

And to close the show after the sun had already set and we were just about to leave the park and head home…African Wild Dogs. We never even had any hope of seeing these as it’s such a rare sighting—our guide who is there almost every day said it’s a once in every 5-6 months sighting. The darkness combined with shaky hands made for tough photo conditions, but this is the best we got with our funsaver of two African Wild Puppies. We’re captioning it “Mickey Mouse Club”.

dogs.jpg

Again, more photos on smugmug when we’re back. But next up was Victoria Falls. It’s low flow season for the falls, but it’s still quite impressive. But what you’re really here to see is the bungi jump…

Lillie is adamant that she will never do it again. Bottom line, here’s the video. The audio is of Zambian quality, but we did pay extra for the Kravitz at the end. (I compressed this down quite a bit to speed the uploading)

We’re at JNB finally Madagascar bound in an hour (our "taxi" driver to the airport was arrested upon dropping us off!). Tonight should present our first lemur and lizard sightings…pretty pumped…

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