Early in the morning we pile into the van in Zambia, but there isn’t a tired eye among us. For today we are driving to the Chobe National Park in Botswana. The anticipation in the faces of those about to embark on their first African safari is high. For me too, as this will be my first time in Botswana, and my first time experiencing a safari from the water.
The Chobe river divides Zambia from Botswana. Passport control is a little building on the side of the river, and we are quickly and happily stamped into a new country. We put away our passports and board a small skiff to transport us across the river as the sun begins to rise.
Just like that, we are in Botswana. We laugh at the huge family of monkeys that are frolicking among the great semi trucks waiting at the border crossing to go back to Zambia. Soon our Safari jeeps arrive and take us to the drop off point. We board our boats and start down the river, the great blue sky above us and nature’s jungle all around.
After a short while, we come close to the shore, tall marsh reeds hiding what may be beyond. Our guide lets us know that we are on the shores of Namibia, home to some of Africa’s biggest elephants. As if on queue as we slowly make our way through the reeds to the shore, the sun is blocked out by an enormous shadow….
Our first glimpse of the mighty African elephant is an epic one, and everyone’s adrenaline is pumped. Moving on down the river, incredibly we come across a python. It is hard for me to spot at first, as the natural color of the snake blends so well into the environment, but once spotted, I can’t take my eyes off of it.
Herds of hippo are active this morning. Toted as one of Africa’s most dangerous animals, I’ve usually only enjoyed watching these great creatures in the water, thus only seeing their eyes, ears, and backs. Today though they were on all fours on the shoreline, giving us all a full view.
Marks are covering the sides of many of them, and our guide lets us know that this is from the males fighting for breeding rights.
Crocodiles, so still that they seem to be placed there for our enjoyment, and not real creatures that can crush out our life existence with one ferocious bite of their mighty jaws.
It’s been a few hours by now, and between my morning coffee and the water on the boat to keep me hydrated, the urge to relieve myself is strong. It was even stronger for those with me that were enjoying morning beers. After a few requests for a bathroom break, our guide surveys the shores and seems to find a spot that doesn’t have crocodiles, hippos, or any other animals that are too close to enjoy us as a snack.
It was a surreal rush taking a leak in the Chobe!
It’s almost noon, so we head back to have lunch before embarking on our land safari in the afternoon. I wonder….
can it get any better than this morning? Yet I know that in Africa, one is always constantly amazed and surprised with the wild beauty that presents itself.