I had been trying to figure out a way to get into Botswana and see one of the major sites (a prerequisite for the country-counting-comparison that Dustin and I have), and the opportunity to go to Chobe National Park (one of three major places to see in Botswana) presented itself. Signed up and ready to go, I boarded a bus with two other couples for the journey from Livingstone to Kazangula, across the border, and into Botswana! (As a side note, I also needed to leave the country within a month for my visa extension…)
Botswana is a fairly developed and rich country. And while it is more so than Zambia, the evidence of this was not clear as we crossed the border and headed to Chobe. It felt much like Zambia (which makes a lot of sense) — traveling into Botswana and seeing how similar the countries were, even with the relative financial success of Botswana — made it clear to me the important of understanding not just the wealth of a country but also the disparities between those who have and those who do not.We arrived at a beautiful lodge (i.e one that I would not, probably ever, be staying at!) and were quickly escorted onto a boat. The first half of our day was spent on the Chobe River — the river *is* the border between that area of Botswana and Namibia (so does it count that I was also in Namibia, Dustin?). I highly recommend river safaris — you are able to get far closer to animals in the boat than in a vehicle, on an animal, or walking. We saw many beautiful birds, giraffes and elephants coming to drink, crocodiles sunning themselves, hippos resting in the mud, and plenty of impalas, kudus, and lizards of all shapes. It was fabulous.
The *best* part was watching two adolescent males frolicking in the water. They spent their time drinking and wading, and then they decided to cross to an island. As they swam (like DOLPHINS!!, rolling in the water), they wrestled and pushed and egged each other on. AWESOME.
A three course lunch, at this same beautiful lodge, commenced, and we ate until we were stuffed. We left the lodge and climbed into safari vehicles, heading into Chobe National Park. We drove along the same river that we had earlier ridden on, and saw many of the same animals from different perspectives. Chobe has thousands of elephants, and our drive, I estimate that we saw at least 150 — many in large groups. WOW. For an elephant lover like me, I could have spent so much more time there… More pics: http://picasaweb.google.com/JuliannaRiggHillard/0710ChobeNationalParkSafari#
But, our time was limited, and we had to make the final boat crossing to get back into Zambia. If it wasn’t clear earlier, in order to get back and forth to Zambia, a river must be crossed on one of the most rudimentary ferries I have ever been on. The distance is short — maybe two – three football fields? — and the ferry can only hold a couple of vehicles and one truck (this means that the trucks are lined up on either side of the border, waiting for around three weeks for their place on the ferry — again, HIV/AIDS ground zero — plenty of bored truck drivers with cash to spend…). Making it safely across the river and then into Zambia (with a visa good through the beginning of August!), we climbed in the Jollyboys’ truck and headed home.
What a day :).