January is in full swing. I’m already feeling like I’ve been at work for five weeks not five days. And I started this draft last weekend and thought I’d finish it during the week but alas another weekend. So here goes. More on Africa this year. Exploring my neighbouring countries. First on the list, Botswana.
My best friend and I decided on a last-minute road trip, and by last-minute I mean one week before, the following five days which I spent with my family as it was Christmas which meant zero time to research. Our only criteria was that we needed to be near a large body of water. So Victoria Falls was the ultimate destination. Reading up on it now boggles my mind as to why we never made it there sooner. But I’m getting ahead of myself, first on the list is Chobe.
So people usually get there by flying either to Kasane, or to Francistown and then driving the four to five hours there. There’s a bus service from Francistown for budget travellers who don’t want to invest in a rental car. And if you do drive, Botswana has lots if cops; you will be pulled over every 200 kilometers without fail. We got two fines; one P750 and another P350. So keep to the speed limit. We had decided to drive. The little amount of research we had done got us headed to the wrong border, on two occasions. First was closed when we got there, some regular-speed thinking saved the day and we doubled back on forty minutes drive on a piece of painful gravel from the small and off course Zanzibar border crossing to the Grobler’s Bridge crossing 85 kilometres away. This happened because Garmin had decided to take us to the closest border by distance, but it had about 30 km of gravel, and it closed at 4pm. we managed to cross successfully at Grobler’s Bridge which closes at 10pm, and we spent the first night in Selebi Phikwe where we arrived very late because of said detour that I couldn’t remember my ATM pin when go there.
We made it to Kasane on the second day with a few stops meeting some lovely locals and I learnt about my friend’s obsession with baobab trees. She would point out every single baobab tree out, and they have gazillions of them. The last two hours drive to Kasane were really fun as it is in the Chobe national park and since Botswana does not fence, be you will come across hordes of wildlife, elephants in particular. Considering that the last game drive I was in a private game farm we spent a few hours tracking a lone male bull elephant, can’t remember where the family was, driving through just the road to Kasane is a treat.
Kasane is a border town close to Africa’s Four Corners where borders of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe intersect. At Kasane, the Chobe river is between 200 to 300 m wide an forms a border between Botswana and the extreme tip of Namibia called the Caprivi Strip. A beautiful experience but definitely a cautionary tale against night driving. It was a rewarding drive, saw more elephants on that stretch than i have ever seen in my entire life. It is known after all the elephant capital of the world.
I camped for the first time in my life here. Ate a massive Chobe River fish for dinner, experienced the luxury of the Chobe River Lodge over breakfast and got to see a monkey steal sugar sachets.
The highlight was the cruise along the Chobe River. It is three hours of slow cruise in the afternoon providing a spectacle of elephants coming to drink water or muddy themselves, hippos and buffaloes were also present in the highest numbers and next time I go there I want to experience the houseboat. I can call it the next level of camping, it’s like river glamping.
Last but not least was the breath-taking sunset.