November 5, 2015 – 6:50A
Rough night’s sleep with the first two hours of tossing and turning. My mind was buzzing with curiosity over what our game drives would be like and what would camp and our “tents” be like. From all the pictures I saw they had hardwood floors and you could stand up in them and move around but beyond that was a mystery. Finally, I put in some ear plugs and that (slowly) did the trick of helping me get to sleep. Now I’m gonna grab a much needed shower and then it’s off to breakfast downstairs with Aryn, her mom and her sister.
Note after breakfast: Don’t eat the Marmite. It’s a British food spread, dark brown in color and thicker than molasses but extremely salty. I dabbed a bit of it on a corner of my toast just to try and Yuck! Never again!
On a plane from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe where we are meeting our trip leader, Vitalis, and catching a chartered bus to cross the boarder into Botswana. Did some minor shopping at the Out of Africa store in Johannesburg Airport (a 4 pack of beaded Christmas tree ornaments and a Christmas CD of traditional holiday songs set to African music). Very excited to listen to that this December! Wifi was spotty at the airport so I had trouble sending texts to Aaron and my mom.
When we arrived in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe we stood in line with other international travels to purchase a double-entry Visa (since we will be returning to Zimbabwe for our final days of the trip). Outside the Victoria Falls airport was a group of tribally-dressed guys singing what seemed to be a welcome song in their native language. One of the ladies from our trip, Nora (from Wisconsin) joined in and danced with them). Our trip leader is so funny. When we boarded the chartered bus he introduced us to the driver and said that “he had been waiting there for us since last night.” haha! Funny guy! Glad he has a sense of humor. He graciously welcomed us to Africa and proceeded to brief our group on what we can expect on this adventure.
There are certain moments in my life that are unforgettable: the first time I saw the Colosseum, my first sighting of the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Eiffel Tower and today as we were driving down the road in our minibus we spotted an enormous elephant on the right (the side of the bus Aryn and I were sitting on). He was among the trees and walking towards the road. It happened too fast for me to grab my camera but this creatures presence made such an impression on me and filled me with so much intrigue that I will never forget that moment. Maybe another twenty minutes or so down the road we spotted a few zebra (including a mama with her baby).
Later we passed more elephants. I thought to myself: “I hope we see some giraffes and wouldn’t you know it, two appeared among the trees! Vitalis had the driver stop so we could open our windows and take pictures. Wow! I was so excited to actually see these beautiful creatures in their natural environment. As we continued on we saw impalas, a steenbok and some warthogs. Oh and I almost forgot – baboons!
As we crossed the boarder into Botswana we saw a couple of warthogs strolling through the Customs parking lot. “Pumbas” as Vitalis calls them. Before exiting the bus to get our passports stamped, Vitalis explained the exact procedures of what we needed to do to go through customs in Botswana. This was very helpful so we weren’t exiting the bus like lost puppies trying to navigate our way in an strange new world. Part of the entry procedure was to walk across this screened pad that disinfected our shoes. This was to avoid disease and germs crossing country boarders. From there we boarded a different bus and continued to our camp.
Arrived in Cabin 9 at Baobab Lodge just outside Chobe National Park in Botswana. The main lodge was beautiful and overlooked huge yellow grassy planes that were inhabited by a variety of different antelope and a handful of zebra. Up near the lodge wall was a lone elephant drinking from a small trough of water.
The staff welcomed us in song and handed us a champaign glass with a red and yellow layered sweet drink. We gathered on the comfortable sofas in the main lodge from some quick introductions of the staff before they wanted to show us to our “tents.” Leaving the lodge we were immediately blocked by 9 elephants traipsing through our camp. One walked right up the stairs to the front door of one of the “tents” (which look more like lodges but with canvas walls and roof). The staff threw rocks at the elephants and clapped their hands to get them to move on and finally up the hill they went behind the “tents” and we were able to proceed to our rooms. As Aryn and I arrived at our camp there was one remaining elephant eating the leaves off a tree just beside our “tent.” Hilariously intimidating.
The rooms seemed very comfortable with a bathroom in the back complete with a shower, flushable toilet, sink area and closet and shelf space to hang and set our clothes. I was very excited to be calling this place “home” for the next 3 nights.
One of the trees outside our “tent was filled with baboons. You can hear them calling out – sound like a deep bark). They were eager to scatter as Aryn and I anytime we excited our “tent” to stand on our front porch.
The sunset is beautiful. Heading out to walk up the dirt path to the main lodge for dinner.
Dinner was delicious. I particularly liked the vegetable lasagna. Going to try and go to sleep now which should be interesting with all the mosquito netting around our beds. Oh crap! Aryn just screamed, okay more like a “gasp” she’s claiming. Hold on a minute while I check out the situation.
There was a huge black, long-legged spider on the white tile wall of our shower. I just killed it with my shoe. To top it all off, during dinner we learned what a male lion’s mating call sounds like from one of our guides and there have been quite a few of those calls happening so far tonight. In fact, we are hearing one right now that sounds like its un on the hill behind our “tent.” Yikes! Good luck getting any sleep tonight. haha!