NB: Please note, I do not own any of the above.
THE CHOBE NATIONAL PARK
There is beauty in the hidden treasures. How true are these words? My heart thumped hard with an irregular rhythm, as we approached this beauty – the nerves, the thrill. My initial thought about what I saw before me was “that is one gigantic statue” but the crux of the matter is that the giant figure was real and alive. Like royalty, she coyly paraded over the road as my friends and I silently watched and waited in awe. She took frantic steps towards us and carefully approached our vehicle – examining us before she started caressing our tour guide with her trunk – my heart skipped and stopped for a second, literally. She stood at about three meters – her body towering above us. Then off she ran, we watched as she ran off into the bush. What just happened? That was the first time I saw an elephant up close.
The Chobe National Park is an abode for an abundance of animals. After a warm welcome from the beautiful, witty creature, just outside the entrance of her home – we proceeded and met some friendly staff members who made sure that our tour ran smoothly. What I loved about the Chobe Park was the number of activities that count for the best safari experience. The park offers the following;
I think the game drive is the epitome of perfection when it comes to safari tours. It is a must do activity when touring Kasane. Our four by four Safari vehicles with open seats finally hit the dusty road that eventually led us to paradise. Whoever said real life animals compare to framed pictures did not tell the truth. True beauty is seeing them with your naked eyes. Real life is the truth. I loved it when we drove around the Chobe and stopped in order to observe some animals – that is by far the best experience I have ever had. It is like viewing the world from a different perspective. Hearing about the animal’s food web is different from witnessing, at first sight, the way the animals are codependent on each other and how their food web operates. At one end I could see a herd of Zebras graze and drink water by the Chobe river, the giraffes eating from the taller trees, some impalas seeking shade under the trees to protect themselves against Botswana’s scorching sun (You should bring sunscreen for that). While here, expect to spot buffalos walking to the river bank. Baboons and chimpanzees tending to and playing around with their young ones. Vultures suspended in the air on the lookout for the next leftover meal to feast on. While others graciously fly about in uniform – some birds confidently rest on the backs of other large animals. Galloping sounds fill the air as many animals excitedly run around their safe haven. The confidence oozing from all sorts of species was amazing – talk about being unbothered. It seemed like although the animals saw us they pretended not to take notice. They would stop, stare then move on. Hmm! Confident in their abode, aren’t they? Nonetheless, the tour guide kept telling us to remain alerted yet calm and collected. The game drive was the highlight of my trip to Kasane.
The local’s use the small wooden boats (known as Mokoro) that use a long wooden carved sticks as paddles to row their boats in the middle of the river, some to fish or collect water lilies or reeds in the Chobe. In their company is small engine powered local cruise boats, cruising through the Chobe River. Tourists use this opportunity to take close up pictures (making sure not to get too close) of the animals – the elephants, hippopotamus, and rhinoceros cooling off in the water to the momma crocodile suspending its baby crocodiles above water. The boat cruise is the ideal choice for individuals who want to get a closer look at the river instead of observing from the river banks.
The Chobe National Park is known for its campsites. As a tourist, sometimes I don’t want the normal modern housing I am used to – I prefer a tent and a fire, especially on a Safari trip. The park caters for individuals like myself who want an outdoor experience. Although there are many campsites to choose from, my personal favorite is the Ihaha – simply because it is actually inside the national park. With this arrangement, you get a feel of peace and oneness with nature while enjoying the sounds of nature during the night. Camping at Ihaha gives you a closer view of the wilderness since it is near the Chobe river and animals will occasionally pass your campsite. How awesome is that?
Many people know Botswana for its diamonds but very few know about this true gem – Sedudu Island. It is said that Batswana (the natives of Botswana) refer to this Island as “hippo pod” hence the name Sedudu. On the other hand, Namibians call this haven Kasikili Island. My Chobe National Park game drive included this beautiful Island and the good news is – the boat cruise includes this little Island. This historic Island in the Chobe, laying between Botswana and Namibia is a water fountain for all animals so you can spot herds of different animals by the river banks. I guarantee you that the atmosphere there is different. I would say it looked and smelled heavenly if that is even a thing.
CHOBE CROCODILE FARM
About 12 km from Kasane, the Kazungula village is home to the Chobe Crocodile Farm which accommodates a large number of crocodiles. For the crocodile lovers who did not get close ups of the crocodiles during the game drive or boat cruise – the croc farm is designed for you. Here you will meet crocodiles – both young and old with personalized names that they respond to. Visit the crocodile farm in Kazungula and witness how their keeper communicates with them.
MY PONTOON FERRY EXPERIENCE
Although I missed out on the boat cruise, not only did I get a chance to see Africa’s four corners – where four countries meet – I climbed the pontoon ferry or the “pantuni” as the locals call it. The “pantuni” is basically a large flat rectangular shaped type of boat that can float itself in water. It can carry people and or luggage and vehicles across the Zambezi river to Zambia since it’s a short distance. Young ones love it and everyone’s excitement about it made me eager to try it out. I did not regret it, it was an amazing experience.
Is it safe to say that most of us crave refreshment and comfort after a long day connecting with nature? A nice warm bath, a massage, and food. Yep! That sounds right. If you have been thinking that the wildlife is the only good part about the Chobe – you are in for a big surprise. The Kasane destination has a good number of hotels, lodges, and campsites – giving tourists a variety to choose from based on personal preference. Some people prefer luxury when touring while others prefer to set up camp and sleep outside (in the company of tour guides of course) as a way of being one with nature and experiencing new things. Whatever the reason, Kasane caters for each individual. For those individuals who fancy comfort, you have plenty of affordable choices – Chobe River Lodge, Cresta Mowana Lodge, Chobe River Cottages and so forth. For those who want to experience the outdoors, the Chobe National Park and Thebe River Camping has a plan for you. You can book a campsite from the ones available and enjoy the wilderness. Kasane is lovely that is why I am going back again this December – this time with more activities (that boat cruise I missed out on) on my to do list for sure. I was busy planning my trip few days ago – writing down the activities I am interested in – from Safari Game Drives – to Safari Boat Cruises and Fishing – to camping. I cannot wait!
Why haven’t you been to Botswana yet? Indulge yourself and your family in the rich Setswana culture, language and food. Add Kasane to your 2017 bucket list and take your family to see the attractions and the wildlife. You will not regret it!