Leaving Pretoria, we flew from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, then took a coach transfer a short distance into Botswana, Kasane region near to Chobe National Park.
The border crossing was amusing as we had to take all our shoes out of our cases and put them in a tray if (muddy) water. We then put our shoes back on and retraced our steps back on to the coach – presumably recontaminating them in the process. Not really sure why, but it was amusing, and not one we’ll forget! On our way we saw a lot of giraffes alongside the road. And also baboons. Botswana, we had a feeling we were going to like you!
The hotel, Cresta Mowana, was situated on the banks of the river Chobe and had a very large and old baobab tree that the hotel was based around.
The rooms were beautiful- set as a lodge, complete with a river view and balcony. There was a golf course for those who fancied a game.
Our first afternoon was spent on a river Safari, from our hotel. We saw so many elephants splashing around in the river, and hippos and crocodiles. We also saw the African kingfisher and a whole host of other birds.
Unfortunately the weather turned on us, and we all ended up absolutely soaked but the wildlife sightings more than made up for it. On our return to the hotel we saw many crocodiles, which we enjoyed continuing watching from the bar.
The next morning we had a very early alarm call – we were going on an early morning game drive. So far, we’d had some great elephant, giraffe and zebra sightings even rhino and hippos, but this morning we hoped to find the lions. We set out full of anticipation, excitement and even a few nerves, and arrived in Chobe National park at 6am.
We saw magnificent birds, and many many antelope. We saw baboons, even some explicit baboon activity!
And then. Our guide spotted a lion foot print in the Sandy track.
We followed it for a good mile or two, our guide never taking his eyes of the footprints, almost hanging out of the jeep whilst driving at times.
Then it vanished, into the bush. The mood was tense to say the least. Our eyes were on stalks. I’ve never strained so hard to try and see something in my life. I could barely breath, I was aching to see these lions. But here we were in a huge national park. The chances were slim! We carried on cautiously, desperate to see footprints or any sign that the lions had been here. We turned a corner and then our guide said ‘that’s a lion asleep in the road ahead’. I nearly gave myself whiplash!
As we inched closer, we couldn’t believe our eyes. It was only the male lion king- the leader of the the pride. And he was less than 2 foot from us and fast asleep- right in the middle of the road. His belly was bulging full, we were told he’d had a feed over night and now was sleeping it off.
What was more, we were the truck to discover it, so we had him all to ourselves.
After 5 mins or so we heard screeching tyres coming from afar, all desperate to take a glance of the lion. We moved away, blessed to have had our view, and moved up the road a few hundred yards. Then low and behold the rest of the pack were there and we got to enjoy more time observing these phenomenal creatures in their home. The wild. Just as it should be.
One of the males came exceptionally close to our jeep, no one could barely breath. It wasn’t bothered in the slightest by us. We were told to keep all limbs inside the vehicle and by doing that they couldn’t smell us. They were used to the smell of the jeep. Why anyone would want to dangle a limb outside the jeep in this situation is beyond me but I can assure you were kept ourselves well and truly inside – our mouths were gaping wide in astonishment. We felt like the luckiest people in the world.
When we returned to the hotel we had breakfast and the mood was electric. It reminded us of after our tiger Safari in India. There is nothing quite like the buzz of a game drive. It’s addictive.
The rest of the day was free – so we had booked through the hotel concierge a 3 hour excursion into nearby Namibia. The trip took us by boat onto a nearby island, which happened to be in Namibia.
We met a local guide there and did a walking tour around the local village. It was fascinating to see the local villagers and their houses- made out of mud and wood, and we got the opportunity to buy some local crafts from the villagers. It was great to experience another country and get another country stamp in our passport.
We then had an hour or so back at the hotel, before we went out on another game drive. Told you it was addictive! We arranged with another couple in our group to go out again, in the hope to see leopards, in the hope of completing the big 5. We gave it a good go, our guide took us to all the spots but we didn’t have any luck on finding a leopard. We did however get another amazing opportunity to view the lions, this time seeing the lion king awake.
Keith got a very close encounter with the lion king as he casually strolled past our jeep, less than a foot away from Keith. His face was a picture as you can see at the end of this video
Oh, we had had the most amazing day. We adored Botswana and particularly thought the Cresta mowana was a great base. I can see us perhaps returning here. The excitement of game drives I don’t think will ever go away.
We spent our final evening in Botswana in the bar, watching the crocodiles, keeping an eye out for the hippo, and eating pulled warthog. We felt a million miles away from home!