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.
We were in luck! With that black mane, this might be the same lion we saw yesterday. Today, however . . .
. . . he is accompanied by two lionesses . . .
. . . 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 . . .
. . . 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.
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.
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.
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.
There seems to be plenty of grass, though, to support loads of animals; we saw dozens of hippos and hundreds of 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.
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.
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.
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.