This past weekend, I treated myself to a much needed private retreat north to Kasane where Chobe National Park is located, and to where I can think alone, grieve, be in nature, pamper myself, and splurge on a nice lodge with good food, good showers, TV, and a good masseus. Ah, heaven to a PCV. It didn't take much to be enticed up there since I've been bitten hard by the safari bug. All I had to do was summon up my inner elephant spirit, and I'm there---like dressing on a salad. So now, Chobe's claim to fame is that it boasts the highest concentration of elephants on the plant with well over 100,000. The elephants though, should not be the only claim to fame, as the reserve along the river is simply sensational, and the vast park is home to hugely varied wildlife. But boy, those elephants, the earth's largest land creature in all their imposing glory are sure fun to watch. Chobe River also forms a natural border between 4 countries, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Each afternoon, animals trek long distances to the rivers edge in order to drink and think---well, I don't know how much thinking they actually do. You couldn't throw a rock without hitting one of hundreds of elephant, they are everywhere, and set against a landscape that you can only watch and admire. All of the big 5 are in Chobe save for the Rhino. In particular, I enjoyed the river cruise where we became up close and personal, not only with the elephant, but with the hippo who came out of water at an unlikely hour. Beautiful birds stalk the hippo, waiting for it to poop so they can eat all the good stuff that comes out. It's quite a site. There were many crocs, baby crocs, water monitors, giraffe, the graceful impala, hundreds of buffalo which are one of the big 5, and Tiger Fish that periodically bounced up out the water scaring the daylights out of us. Inland we saw about 9 lion sleeping under a tree bush in the hot afternoon sun, though one male graced us and got up to say hello. No matter how many animals you see, or how often you do a safari, there is no feeling in the world better than running into the mighty lion or leopard. Lying there, fading into the scenery, unafraid of anything, I see why they are king of the jungle---they are majestic and feared by all other animals.
You have not felt Africa until you witness the bright orange sun setting behind the river, or behind the gnarled branches of the ancient Baobab trees that seems to bring out a myriad of colours on the bulky trunks. At night, I sat with my wine under the stars, listening to the sounds of nearby wildlife, interspersed by the silence of the African bush---a place I can call home.