The Daily Dozen: From Savuti to Kasane

Twelve photos from each day of our Africa adventure.

Today we left one part of Chobe National Park and went to another: The Chobe Riverfront. We camped at a private lodge just outside the park.

We broke camp in the dark at Savuti to squeeze in one more break-of-day game drive. We heard lions roar the past two nights and even saw one yesterday in the morning twilight, too dark for pictures.

A lion at sunrise.

A lion at sunrise.

We were in luck! With that black mane, this might be the same lion we saw yesterday. Today, however . . .

One male and two female lions.

Three lions on the road in Chobe National Park.

. . . he is accompanied by two lionesses . . .

Mating lions.

Mating lions. It’s not an invasion of privacy: They’re on the road!

. . . one of which is in estrus. Copulation is quick—just a few seconds—and repeated many times (every 15–20 minutes) over the course of 4–7 days or however long estrus lasts.

A safari vehicle drove up after we’d been watching for some time. The guide indicated that this male was particularly aggressive. We had had some evidence of that already. We had stopped our truck a distance away and after sitting quietly for some time, crept forward. We did this a number of times, wanting to get as close as we could without disturbing them. The lion had the final say: When he decided we were close enough, he turned and stepped toward us as if saying, “That’ll do, humans.” That suited us fine; we were plenty close.

The lions were on the road and unwilling to move aside. We had to turn around and go the way we’d come, which wasn’t our plan.

The road out of Savuti was riddled with deep, wide puddles. We met another self-drive Chobe visitor stopped at a particularly daunting puddle, wary of going through alone. Having a second vehicle along to pull out one that gets stuck is a handy thing. We traveled the rest of the way to the park gate together. No one got stuck, but someone might have: Those puddles were big and sometimes gloopy. The Toyota trucks used here are impressive.

After surviving the puddles, we had a long, bumpy ride on a soft, sandy, super-straight track. Oy, that extreme bumping is exhausting. However, the horrible road with thick encroaching brush brought us our first . . .

A roan antelope.

Our first roan antelope. Chobe National Park.

. . . roan antelope. Pretty, eh?

Within a couple of hours of reaching Kasane and checking in to the campground at Chobe Safari Lodge, we were on the Chobe River Cruise. I poo-pooed the touristy nature of the cocktail-heavy trip (which deserves poo-pooing), but the views that we had of the wildlife on the river made it worthwhile.

Hippo fully exposed on land.

It has legs!

For starters, we got very close to hippos, both on land and in the water. Finally, I got to see squat hippo legs. Swamp sausages on tree stumps!

Note the egret and oxpecker.

Hippo, egret, and lechwes in tall grass of the marsh.

Egret riding a grazing swamp sausage and red lechwes munching.

Normally, hippos on land look like this.

Those are lechwe in the background. They’re a lot like impala, but the horn shape is different, as are the black body markings.

Hippo and elephants eating grass along the Chobe River.

Competing grazers: Elephants and Hippos.

There’s a grassy island in the middle of the river that both hippos and elephants love. They compete for the yummy grass. Once hippos crop it short, the elephants can’t grip it with their trunks.

Hippo and Elephants grazing along the Chobe River.

So many grazers! Click for a larger image. Use your back button to return.

There seems to be plenty of grass, though, to support loads of animals; we saw dozens of hippos and hundreds of elephants.

Three adult elephants surround a tiny baby elephant.

Protective elephants.

The elephants come to the river in their separate groups. This little family of four was very protective of their wee one, keeping it surrounded and separated from the other groups. We saw this behavior a lot, sometimes with young ones of various ages, where even teenagers guarded the younger family members.

The young ones don’t seem worried about getting trampled; they romp around the various legs at ease.

Crocodile on the sandbank, Chobe River.

Crocodile on the sandbank, Chobe River. If you click the pic, you can see a larger version. Use your back button to return.

Crossing the river to the island can be risky as crocodiles also live in the river. Adult hippos and ellies are too big for the crocs, though, so they come and go as they please.

Crocodile with mouth open.

“My what a big, open mouth you have!” “The better to lower my temperature, my dear.”

Being reptiles, crocodiles don’t thermoregulate. When it gets crazy hot, as it frequently does, they sit in the shade with their mouths open in an effort to cool off. That doesn’t make sense to me. Why don’t they just sit in the water like hippos? That seems way cooler.

My, what big teeth you have, Ms. Crocodile.

Giraffes getting drinks and buffalo grazing.

Giraffes and African buffalo (or Cape buffalo) along the Chobe River. The closest buffalo has a major hernia. Ouch!

Lots of other animals—giraffes and buffalo, for instance—visit the shore of the Chobe River for the food and water it provides.

The river separates Botswana from Namibia. Because of the park, all the wildlife is on the Botswana side. The Namibia side is farmland.

Namibia tried to claim the grassy island that feeds so many elephants and hippos, but a mediator decided that the deeper channel should be the dividing line between countries, and that made the island Botswana’s. Botswana erected a flag on the island and made it part of the park.

Categories: Africa, Africa, Travel