16 Oct 2013

Lions, Leopards & Lechwe

Botswana: Chobe National Park: Savuti, Kasane.

Chobe National Park is a well renowned National Park and its name is synonymous with a vast density of wildlife and enormous herds of elephant…we were expecting good things as we entered the gates from the south and headed towards our first stop – *Savuti Camp*.  We were not to be disappointed as within the first 5 minutes we spotted a lioness just relaxing under a tree. 

The drive to Savuti was very different to the other parks we had been in.  We followed the marshland to our right and dense shrubbery to our left.  The former was the first vast open space we had seen and although the scenery was different to other parks so far, we saw only a handful of animals…we hoped there would be more to Chobe.

We had been warned that Savuti camp was expensive for what it was, and that was an understatement.  For $100 you get nothing more than clean ablutions and area to camp on, but we did enjoy sharing our campsite with a couple of very playful squirrels that enjoyed nibbling our chairs and also some baby banded mongoose.

Later that afternoon we headed to the Savuti marsh which had been tipped as “the place to be”. En route we saw an ENORMOUS elephant.  Given our relatively recent encounter with an elephant we were cautious in moving past him… we decided that Josi has developed a small phobia of elephants…but fortunately this is unlikely to cause any anguish back in London!  We also saw some greater kudu, wildebeest, lechwe and the elusive secretary bird, which was one we really wanted to see.

After an evening drive, and another beautiful sunset, we set about making our dinner – another of John’s fine cuisine – Sweet Baby Ray's beef with vegetables, by candlelight – romantic!

The next morning we woke up early for a morning drive, but again we were disappointed with the wildlife on offer…we decided to head North with a new hope for seeing some wildlife.  During this long drive north, we saw only 2 cars, but the memorable part of this journey was a hidden drop in the road that saw us both hit the roof, quite literally.  We were proud of Tonka for showing no sign of the bump.

Kasane, the town just north of Chobe, was a nice town and we stocked up on everything we needed before heading to *Chobe Safari Lodge*.  This lodge had camping with full use of the facilities – swimming pool, restaurant and bar – another perfect place to stop for a few nights!

In the early morning we headed into Chobe.  We headed towards the plain of Chobe River, the landscape was beautiful and we saw a vast array of animals.  The highlight however, was the most spectacular specimen of a lion we had seen.  The muzzle was enormous and made the lion we saw in Moremi National Park seem very small!  He had a large, thick and shaggy mane which gave way to immense shoulders and a long, broad back.  He sat majestically in the shade while over a dozen tourists took his portrait.  It was an amazing sight that we marvelled over for quite a while before heading on. 

The next sight we stumbled upon was to complete our sightings of the Big Five – a leopard.  He was hiding in the bushes (we didn’t blame him – it was getting very hot in the heat of the late morning).  It was great to see despite also being quite hard to see.  We felt the day couldn’t get any better when we were on our way back to the fort and then we saw a multitude of herds of elephant on the river plains of the Chobe River – it was amazing to see so many together – a sight that this area is known for. 


And so with an afternoon of swimming, drinks, a sunset and traditional dancing (from the locals, not John!) we ended our time in Kasane and prepared to cross into Zambia in the morning.

Days in Africa: 38
Km driven: 762km
Km total:  60,178km
Animal sightings: Leopard, Lion, Red Lechwe, Red Hartebeest, Secretary Bird, Bustard, Greater Kudu, Wildebeest, Elephant, Giraffe, Lechwe, Buffalo, Warthog, Hippo.

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