November 7, 2015 – 5:40A
Slept so much better now that I’ve experienced a game drive and, therefore, my mind is no longer racing with curiosities. I’ve also gotten used to falling asleep to baboons, hyenas and lions. haha. Feeling refreshed and ready for another game drive in Chobe. 🙂
Wow! Just returned from our third and final game drive in Chobe National Park. The terrain of the park is a beautiful wide open space with the Chobe River running through it. On the other side of the river is Namibia. Chobe is 4,500 square miles. We did see many parts that were tree covered. A great deal of the trees had been eaten by the 120,000 elephants that are estimated to populate the area.
Saw lots of cape buffalo, impala, kudu, warthogs, giraffes, elephant including a tiny baby elephants that were skipping amongst the adults as the “parade” passed us by. What a magnificent sight to see.
All of a sudden, we were informed by another tour group of a leopard in a tree with it’s kill (an impala). So our driver Genius hurried our jeep out to see the leopard. It was perched in an acacia tree guarding its kill. We sat there with the engine off for close to a half hour just admiring this stunning animal.
And not only this … we saw a female lion and had the unique privilege of watching her hunt down and chase a roan antelope – which our guide “Genius” said is a rare species in this area. The lioness was deep in the tall golden grass down by the water, too far for my zoom to get a good picture. But then she came right to us and laid down beneath a tree to rest in the shade. She was panting heavily either from just having eaten or the heat. We watched her for a long time and then she spotted the roan antelope by the water. She hunched into a darting position but instead of running, slowly moved past us and crouched down in the grass to move in. The antelope did not see her until she was running in for the kill. It was so exciting to see this live. The antelope got away by leaping into the water. The lion would not go into the water. I thought this was because cats were afraid of water but actually lions are very good swimmers and like being in the water but they’ve learned to avoid it because of the crocodiles. Very interesting.
We also saw a hippo in the water with its eyes and top of its head peeking out and new saw another one shading underneath a tree. We could only get a view of its back and man was it massive. Apparently, these animals can get up to 3.5 tons. Wow! Oh yeah, we also saw a Nile crocodile. What an experience overall. I would be remised if I didn’t comment on all the beautiful bird species we saw throughout Cobie. My two favorites were the lilac-breasted roller (or “rrrrrr-oler” as Vitalis would say) and the red-billed hornbill. Fascinating colors.
It was also cool having a picnic lunch in the “bush.” Before lunch I spotted some monkeys in a nearby tree. I was able to get right up to the tree without them running away. I snapped a dozen photos just waiting for this one particular money seated in a branch to look directly at my camera and finally he did. Money shot!
After lunch “Six” pulled out a map of Botswana and explained to us the recent history of the country and its national parks. Very interesting. During the presentation this beautifully iridescent blue-eared starling was hanging out below our picnic table.
Now we are back at our “tent” resting before heading out to see a small village called Mabele and basket weaver. But first, I’m going to catch a quick and unfortunately, cold, according to Aryn, shower.
Exhausted. Long and exciting day.
The basket weaving demonstration at the Lwaavo Arts & Culture Center in Mabele was fun and very educational. I spent $110 on woven baskets, trivets, earrings and necklaces. Most of what I bought was made by a young woman named Joy, who conducted most of our presentation.
Following our learning and discovery of African basket weaving, we went bar hopping at a bar next door to the basket weavers and another one down the road. At the first bar fellow traveler, Vern from Minnesota, bought all of our drinks. I had a local beer called Windhoek lager. Bar hopping was such a blast and as we drove back from Mabele the sun was quickly lowering itself on the horizon. It was such peaceful view and the temperature was comfortably cool. An overwhelming feeling of gratefulness came over me. I was in awe and appreciation of my surroundings. I felt incredibly blessed.
Unexpectedly, our jeeps pulled off the road and parked by a row of trees along a ridge. Down in the valley we saw a table was set up with a few of the people from our camp. This was to be our “sundowner” time. What a nice way to spend our last evening in Chobe. We walked down to the table which had the word “ENJOY” spelled out in reddish-brown beats. The staff from the camp served us each a champaign glass of Amarula and gave a nice toast. As we drank our tasty Amarula (I need to pick me up a bottle of this stuff – tastes like Irish Cream) we gazed out in the wide open grassy space as far as the eye could see. As even fell, its backdrop became a magnificent sunset. Off in the distance a parade of elephants appeared. What a perfect picture. Breathtaking. . Everyone in our group knew how fortunate we were because these animals are not cued to appear. When you go on these game drives what you see is what you get and its the total luck of the draw. Aryn and I were reviling in the fact that were were standing there together in Africa. How cool. Judy noted that we were surrounded by the same tall golden grass that the lioness had been hiding in earlier this afternoon. What if there was a lion hiding out there now? All we could do was hope that our guides were keeping a good watch or we might be someone else’s dinner before we made it back to dinner ourselves.
At camp we gathered in the sofa area of the lodge where Vitalis briefed us on tomorrow’s schedule and served us up a yeast alcoholic drink called “Shake Shake” that he had bought from the first bar in Mabele. It was milky-looking with a slight grit and smelled like rising bread dough. I didn’t care for it but it was a cool thing to experience. No regrets!
Being our last night in the camp, dinner was a traditional Botswana meal served with us seated around the “boma” (campfire). Prior to serving the food one of the staff members came to each one of us with a pitcher of water and a bowl. We held our hands over the bowl and she poured the water over our hands to clean them. We ate using our hands and the white polenta too scoop up the food. It was delicious – especially the corn soup. Traditional African meals do not include a dessert, however, they did give us each a piece of watermelon. The conversation was very nice and after dinner we gathered by the pool for a performance of traditional singing and dancing by the staff. We were also asked to perform a song from our homeland (the States). Our talent amounted nowhere close to the staff’s. haha! But it was fun nonetheless.
Praying for a good night’s sleep. Aryn and I hear a male lion;s mating call in the near distance. This would probably make my Aaron nervous. But overall, I think this trip would grow on him. Wish he had come.