Lions, and hippos, and elephants, oh my.
Today I crossed over into Botswana to take a day safari at the Chobe National Park. I shared the ride to the safari with the Kleiners from Drenthe, the Netherlands, a group of about 30 students from an Irish Catholic church, who had been doing a mission service project, and a couple from New Zealand. The Kleiners and I rode in the car with the students on a bus. I talked een klein beetje Nederlands (“a little bit of Dutch”) with the Kleiners. We also talked a little bit about Dutch church politics.
After about an hour drive, we got to the Botswana crossing of the Zambezi River at the point where Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana meet. There are scores, maybe hundreds, of trucks waiting to cross by ferry, one at a time. Unfortunately our trip was faster with three loads of people on a speed boat ferry across the river.
Next was an immigration check where everyone has to fill out two forms with only a couple of pens for the 30-40 people. Then there was a short ride to the safari company offices and on to the Chobe Lodge. There we got on a boat for a two hour river cruise.
At first I was concerned that this might be a disappointment. There were a lot of birds of different types and a few animals in the distance. Then we encountered the hippos, swimming, sleeping, and roaming. There is no shortage of hippos here. It is amazing that something that big can swim.
Then there were the crocodiles, the Cape Buffalos, the Legwe (?) antelope, and water monitor lizards. Then the elephants arrived with impalas and Kudos. On the way back four elephants decided to give us a swimming display as they crossed the river. It is amazing that something that big can swim.
After lunch we loaded into the safari trucks for a land tour. Again we started slowly with antelope, birds, and warthogs. Then there was the herd of female elephants and babies. Next came the giraffes. On the way back we got close to a number of animals, including having to wait for the elephants to cross the road.
Finally, there were the lions. We did not get very close to them, and they were mostly hidden in the underbrush. Still we saw lions. After the lions we stopped for a baby giraffe crossing the road and some up-close impala. The joke about the impala is that they have black markings on their rear ends that look like the McDonalds logo. Impalas are fast food for the lions.
It was a very good day and a great way to close my adventure. Now what remains is about 11 hours on buses tomorrow to get back to Ndola and then about 19 hours of airline flights on Thursday and Friday.