The story goes that there is only one place in the world where four countries meet. If you stand on the northern shore of the Zambezi River in Kazungula, Zambia, you can ‘see’ Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. I was very excited once I found about this. How often do you have the opportunity to visit four countries in such close proximity, in such a short period?
I was in Zambia to visit Victoria Falls, so I took a day to go and see a bit of what Botswana has to offer. The day trip from the Victoria Falls area to Chobe National Park is commonly done by tourists, so it was very easy to organize. I just told the owner of my hostel that I wanted to go to Chobe, and she added me to a group that was leaving the next day. From Kazungula, Zambia you can take a ferry or a small speedboat, that will drop you over to Kazungula, Botswana in about 15 minutes. (Yes, the two towns have the same name).
After clearing immigration in Botswana, we headed to a nearby hotel where a boat was waiting to take us on the first part of our ‘day safari’. The first part of our day was spent sailing leisurely along the Chobe River. We saw many hippos, buffalos, waterbucks, a wide variety of birds, and my favourites: elephants. It was easy to see why Botswana is a preferred destination for people who are interested in wildlife. I was fascinated to hear that over 30% of Botswana’s land is protected as wildlife reserves, national parks, or wildlife management areas.
Prior to this trip, I had never considered myself a ‘safari type’. I didn’t really get the appeal of lounging with lions, and tigers, and bears in their natural habitat. As far as I was concerned, that is how people get killed, and somewhat deservedly so. Yes, I know that’s harsh, but if you run up into a lion’s house, you can’t be surprised when it kills you.
Chobe changed my mind.
The second part of our trip comprised of a game drive around Chobe National Park. This was our chance to get up close and personal with the animals that live in the Park. It’s important to note here that I LOVE elephants and estimates of the population here range from fifty to over one hundred THOUSAND elephants. In fact, the elephant concentration is so high that there have been suggestions that some of the elephants should be killed to stem the damage they are causing to the ecosystem. The elephants at Chobe are Kalahari elephants, the largest of the species.
The only animals I love more than elephants are baby elephants. So seeing this:
… took me to my happy place. There is also a variety of other wildlife in the Park. Cheetahs feed during the day, but the lions, hyenas and leopards are nocturnal, so it’s best to stay in the Park overnight, if seeing the cats is your goal. If you’re lucky, you might spot one of them sleeping in a tree to escape the midday heat.
Chobe has the largest concentration of African elephants in the world, and as far as I’m concerned, the elephants are the real stars of the show.
The park is very far away from the heart of Botswana. It would take a day to get from Chobe to the capital, Gaborone, by bus. A trip to Chobe certainly won’t help you to see the fullness and diversity of Botswana. But it’s definitely a worthwhile side trip if you ever go to see Victoria Falls, if only for the elephants.