"Choc-a-bloc Chobe" Game Park, Botswana

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Nina's Guesthouse

Flag of Botswana  ,
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cruising down the Chobe River in Botswana, in a relatively small tinny, the sun shining, birds singing, hippos snorting and elephants cavorting.......what bliss. Ah but to get to this stage there were a few buses to catch, stresses to alleviate..... minor dramas along the way.

After leaving the relative comfort of our train carriage at Kapiri Mposhi, we were again immediately thrust into the world of public African buses. We were hustled and bustled into a coaster size bus after negotiating a price to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and seats up the back seemed the only ones available. Avan had his legs in the aisle and next thing the conductor was squeezing 4 more people on the back seat with us, putting luggage up the aisle and then swung down the fold up aisle seat, over the luggage right onto Avan's legs. We remained absolutely unable to move for a journey of some 4 hours (it was supposed to be 2).

Arriving in Lusaka Bus Station was a nightmare. About 20 people were trying to pull us off the bus and direct us to other buses or to taxis. We were rather glad we didn't have any luggage to worry about! We negotiated a price, to go to an ATM first, then to a backpackers we had in mind, before climbing into the cab. The driver immediately advised the price was per person, so we climbed out again. Much waving of arms and discussion ensued and eventually we reached an agreement with another cab driver. Money bit was achieved, but the ChaChaCha Backpackers was full and we'd sent our taxi off, so with directions we sent off on foot to Nina's guest house, not very far away. This was to prove quite a pleasant little guest house and after dumping our meagre luggage, we again set off on foot, to go back to that scary bus station to buy tickets for the next day to Livingstone. We were able to secure tickets on a "luxury" bus for 6.00am, so after a quick walk around Lusaka (it didn't really feel comfortable or safe) we went back to our guest house for a drink, evening meal and an early night.

Zambia has had a rather large dose of missionary zeal over the centuries and it is quite obvious in day to day situations. We were on our bus by 5.45am ( Heather had now worked out how to use her mobile phone alarm, but to add a little drama, turned on a inbuilt alarm in our room, instead of the light) and a smartly dressed man stood up the front and announced he was going to bless the journey. That sounded a good plan for an African bus, but his "blessing" took 20 minutes and turned into a full blown sermon - unbelievably the notes for the sermon were on his mobile phone! After this he proceeded to give out his phone number to those needing his guidance and of course then asked for donations before leaving. Next minute he was back, saying the bus departure was delayed and relaunched into his sermon. The bus finally got on the way and thankfully there were no extra drop down aisle seats to contend with, but the actual seats we had were quite skinny and close together. The Christian theme however continued for the next five hours with African religious hymns on the drivers stereo. Boy were we glad to see Livingstone!

We checked into the rather quiet Fawlty Towers Backpackers. Our room was a lovely little self contained chalet and we set about doing our washing as always!! and then went to the backpackers office to book tours for our stay.

We were pleased to be able to get a next day booking for a two day/one night Botswana safari and this turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.

A driver picked us up early, with two Dutch lads, and we drove to the border of Zambia and Botswana. The Zambezi river marks the border and a motorboat collected us, taking us over to the other side, where a rather flash safari vehicle was waiting. This took us to another section of the river further up, where we boarded our smallish tinny boat, for a wonderful 3 hour cruise. This part is called the Chobe river and is in the Chobe National Park, but it is actually just the Botswana section of the Zambezi river. Wow, what an experience being so near and personal with hippos, elephants, and crocodiles. The boat took us right up close - sometimes too close!

After our cruise the safari vehicle picked us up again and slowly drove us to our camp site, looking for game along the way. Our camp site was a very pleasant surprise. Comfortable tents, hot water brought to us to wash in and then a fabulous lunch, under a communal marquee. Long drop toilet tent, but it was camping after all! There were quite a group of others at the camp site doing a similar safari and it was great chatting, while we sat around in the heat, waiting for late afternoon safari time.

We went out around 4pm for three hours or so game viewing and watched an amazing sunset at the reputed place where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton got married, the second time around. As darkness descended we were taken back to the campsite, to find wine set up for a tipple and a lovely campfire to sit around, before the cooks brought out a fantastic camp oven meal. The company of the other travellers was great, but around 10.00pm we crawled into our tent, knowing we had to be up at the crack of dawn, to make the most of our safari. The tricky bit was not going to the toilet during the night, given the tents were in the bush, in a game park, with no barriers and who knows what animals prowling.  

The camp cooks roused us around 5.00am bringing hot water for us to wash and when we crawled out of our tent we also found tea, coffee and cereal ready for us. This is really "soft" camping! We headed off game viewing until late morning, then we arrived back in camp for an amazing brunch and packed up our gear ready to head back to the boat for another river cruise. Some of the others in camp were coming back with us and our Dutch friends who we started with were staying on for another day. Once again the river cruise was a feast for the eyes of African wildlife and our guide was incredibly informative.

We really recommend doing a camping trip into Botswana from Vic Falls. The company was "Chobezi" but we booked it through the hostel where we were staying "Fawlty Towers".
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