Africa 2017

Day Two: Chobe National Park

A Daily Dozen Post

That means 12 photos from our day . . . out of the 551 we took. Plus 29 videos. Yes, I counted. This is our second day in Chobe National Park, which should make it easy, right? Because we saw it all yesterday. What could possibly be left?

Kudu (and Impala)

Kudu male, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Winner of the Best Antelope Horns Award

Kudu: The antelope with the milk mustache and pince-nez.

Many antelope have cool horns, but kudu have the coolest of the cool horns. They are popular decor items, as is, or incorporated into lamps and furniture. They are also hollowed out and polished into musical instruments and signal horns—a horn horn. Mind you, they’re not like antlers that fall off annually. Horns are on the animal until it dies . . . or is broken off, which happens.

Impala with broken horn, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Whoops! Crap, I’m going to be reminded of that mistake forever.

The barely-there stripes on the kudu’s back are either camouflage or frosting drizzles to make them more appealing to lions and leopards. Or maybe they’re . . . oxpecker (ahem) residue.

Male kudu with oxpeckers, Chobe National Park, Botswana

How the kudu got its stripes

The frequency with which we see oxpeckers on kudu makes this last explanation the most likely.


Wonder how that impala might have broken his horn? I have an idea . . .

Sparring impala, Chobe National Park, Botswana

It’s only fun until someone loses a horn

Or maybe he was kicked by a giraffe.
Or maybe he tripped over a log, got his horn stuck in an ant hill, and had to break it off to extricate himself.
Or maybe a croc bit it off while the impala was drinking.

We’ll just have to keep wondering, I guess.

And speaking of crocs . . .

Croc and Spur-winged Goose

Spur-winged Goose and Crocodile, Chobe National Park, Botswana


Tiptoeing past the crocodile on the bank. Silly goose.

We saw a ton of crocodiles! Huh. I was speaking figuratively, but that’s probably literally true, as well.


Waterbuck, female, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Heart nose + Target tail = Waterbuck

A cow waterbuck. That seems like an oxymoron, and “bull waterbuck” seems redundant. Can’t we just call them waterboks, like steenboks, springboks, gemsboks, etc?

The “water” part of the name comes from the fact they they don’t wander far from permanent water sources, needing to drink daily. Apparently, they are also decent swimmers and will take to deep water sometimes when threatened. I’ll bet the crocs love that. We have, indeed, always seen them around water, but we’ve never seen them swimming.

Don’t you love the white heart around this lady’s nose?

Why are waterbucks always invited to birthday parties? So attendees can play Pin the Tail on the Waterbuck! Why do you think that ring is there? Du-uh!


As we cruised the Chobe floodplain, I recognized a dead and down tangled tree that I’d noted yesterday. It’s the kind of tree a gal can play on for hours, the kind of tree that ought to house some sort of animal, or perhaps an entire family.

I was so excited to see the tree, I might have missed . . .

Young male lion, Chobe National Park, Botswana

It’s a boy!

. . . the lion outside my open window!

Luckily, Mike spotted him.

We’d just been glassing across the river to where a single lion remained, tugging on the now flat, hardly visible elephant carcass. Yesterday, Mike wondered aloud how long that elephant might last the lions. We have our answer: one day.

This lion was probably one of the four “lionesses” we watched through the binoculars yesterday, but—surprise!—it’s not a lioness: It’s a young male lion. His mane is starting to come in.

Male lion licking paw, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Still a bit muddy

As we watched him, another lion—a lioness—strolled down from the brush and sprawled out near him, in the open. It was a coolish, somewhat cloudy day, so shade wasn’t imperative.

Snoozing lioness, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Check out those giant paws

We didn’t find the two small cubs.

Lion on camera, Chobe National Park, Botswana


And we totally forgot to get a picture of that super-cool tangled tree, which I was asking Mike to do when he spotted the lion. Sigh.

Elephants, at Last!

Elephant pulling tail, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Get back here, you! I’m not finished!

Ha! Found ’em! The elephants are on the west end of the park just now. It’s greener out there.

The ones closest to the road were youngish sparring bulls. So much pushing and pulling and harumphing, but all in rather slow motion.


When we were here three years ago, I occasionally found myself feeling worn out, saturated, overwhelmed with wildlife sightings. I couldn’t process them all.

That’s how I felt today. We drove through the entire park, east to west. After camping in Kasane as we explored the east end of the park, we pulled up stakes (literally) to camp in Muchenje while we explore the west end of the park. Today, we enjoyed nine hours of cool wildlife, beautiful scenery, and rough roads. Exhausting!

During the last stretch, when we thought we were past all the fun stuff, we happened upon a giant eagle-owl. Then, as we hurried to find our way in the last light of day to a not-well-signed place we’d never been, something ran across the road. We knew from the movement of the silhouette what it was, and of course we were going to stop and watch.

Muchenje leopard, Botswana

The thrills keep coming, even outside the park

But it was already hunting, watching the woods intently, never once looking our way. Then it dashed out of sight. We were okay with that; truly, it was enough.

2 replies »

  1. Still amazing. That pic of the young male lion cleaning his paws is my favorite of the bunch. Hope you get some rest so your saturation level is reduced 🙂

  2. For the first time ever, Chrissie, we’ve built some rest time into the trip. It’s wonderful! Even so, Africa is so full of interesting stuff, it’s easy to be overwhelmed.