Tuesday, January 23, 2018
A BITE TO EAT… A lion enjoying a little lunch.

Africa 2017 continued

Editor November 29, 2017

WE have arrived at the Kwando River. We are staying at the Namushasha Lodge and my room is more like a suite with two full-on Africa themed bedrooms with four poster beds, a bathroom the size of a bedroom with a full-size African canoe on the wall (and it’s the real thing) to store the towels, and out on the porch a Jacuzzi. I think I have hit the jackpot, but no time to relax in comfort.

Time to go on Safari. We take a boat on the Kwando River through the marshlands into the national park. Swapping to 4×4 vehicles, we go looking for wild animals. Buffalo are first and there is a herd heading down an embankment and crossing a small river. Cameras are clicking for these are one of the big five. We also spot vultures, zebra, giraffe, springbok, wildebeest and more but then the big one, lions.

Our guide’s keen eyes spots them from quite a distance away. As we draw close we see a pride of four lions with their kill under a big tree. They are feasting on a zebra and we are only about four meters away.

Our guide says it’s quite safe to be so close as the lions are only interested in their kill. As each one finishes, they lay down in the shade to digest their feast.

The photos are incredible as we are so close.

Satisfied with the fruits of our safari, we head back to our river lodge to review our photos and gather for dinner under the stars. It’s a perfect night; warm but pleasant. Candles light our table and a buffet including wild animal meats provide an interesting point of discussion among our group.

We get back on the road again. It’s time to leave Namibia and head for Botswana. The border crossing is easy. At the border, the Kwando River becomes the Chobe River and tonight’s lodge is on its banks.

Botswana is described as a place of beautiful scenery, great sunsets and abundant wildlife. It’s said that Botswana has more elephants than anywhere else in Africa…is that true? Well, just a few kilometres from the border we are greeted by 11 elephants just standing on the side of the road.

We stop and stare at them and they stare back. There are lots of babies in the group. Some are feeding from their mothers. One tiny elephant drops to the ground and just lies there. We are concerned that something is wrong. The mother stands over her baby who remains quite still. Mum uses her trunk to pat the young one who immediately jumps up. All is ok. It seems this play is quite common among baby elephants.

We now head to our accommodation at the Chobe Safari Lodge for two nights. The lodge has a great location right on the banks of the Chobe River. It has high thatched roofs covering the main reception and dining area overlooking a big swimming pool and the river.

This afternoon we take a game drive through the Chobe National Park. We see all the usual wild animals and then we come across a large herd of elephants. They are at the river’s edge drinking and bathing. There are some 40 of them. We are up on a cliff looking down on the herd.

As they leave the water and walk up the riverbank, we drive around to the point where they will cross the road on their way back into the bush.

They walk quite near us. Everyone is getting some great close ups of these huge graceful animals and their little ones. It’s a wonderful experience.

We are heading back to the lodge and there on the side of the road are three lionesses. They are just lying there snoozing. Cameras to the ready we get some great shots as the lions wake up and look around.

With appetites whetted for more, next morning we are up at 5am to again head into the national park to see what animals are around and this morning we are not disappointed. It’s a young leopard resting in the branches of a dead tree. As we take photos, the mother appears. She jumps up to join the young one and we take more photos of them together before the young leopard jumps down. There has been a kill and junior is going to feast some more.

We have now seen the big five; lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino, mission accomplished.

Back on the road again we now head for our last country, Zimbabwe. The border crossing takes a long time. They take our passports and tell us to wait outside. I don’t like being separated from my passport but 40 minutes later it reappears all is ok and we are on our way to Victoria Falls.

It has been 17 years since I was last here and how things have changed. The town around the falls has gotten bigger and this massive tourist hub pulls in tourists from around the world.

The big thing to do is see the falls. There is a US$30 fee to get in and there it is the biggest on the planet…1.7km wide, 130m deep and it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

It is an incredible sight. The water cascades down with such force that the mist generated blows up onto the walkway along the edge of the falls. At this time of year there is a very pleasant cool breeze, but when the falls are running at full force you need a raincoat to stay dry.

The locals call it the smoke that thunders and it really is. Having walked the falls the next must do is fly over it in a helicopter. The view is spectacular. After that you can do anything from white water rafting to zip lining, also elephant riding and game drives are all on the menu, and if you are up for it bungee jumping off the bridge; it’s a long way down.

Tomorrow it will be time to say goodbye to Africa. It’s been an incredible experience. We have covered 6,000km from Cape Town to Zimbabwe and I have loved every minute of it. From painted deserts to lions and leopards and all the other wildlife and the people. Africa is like nowhere else on the planet.

I would like to thank Kiboko Adventure Safari tours for hosting us along the way, and especially our tour guide Kembo who looked after everyone so well getting us safely from point A to B, and for his great knowledge of the region. I’d also like to thank Doc Brown of Travel Managers I Shepparton for arranging everything.

Until next time,

Safe Travel’n,

Geoff Vallance.