Day 9 – Into Bostwana

From and To: Nunda River Lodge to Chobe Safari Lodge

Distance: 450KMs

Time: 6.5 hours includes half hour border crossing

We bade farewell to the exhibition of purity and simplicity unveiled underneath Namibia’s sky. Intermittent internet access detached us from the trivialities of everyday life. As cliche as it sounds, the last 8 days were pure bliss. I knew the experience in Bostwana would differ, particularly where we were headed, the mighty ol’ Chobe National Park, Bostwana’s finest tourist attraction.

Formalities at both borders were swift and smooth, which included leaving our vehicles to step on medicated mats to clean our shoes of the ‘foot and mouth disease’ before entering Bostwana, and driving over medically treated water to clean the car’s tires. The northern part of Bostwana has been battling this outbreak since the 30’s, so they’re taking extra precautions.

The border took us right into Chobe National Park, where we instantly saw a couple of less antagonistic elephants on the prowl. It’s home to Africa’s largest elephant population, so they are protected af. We drove in cautiously to protect them and the rest of the wildlife, which suggested it was pretty much another game drive. However, we were speeding to make it in time for the Chobe River sunset cruise / game viewing we were booked for at 5pm from our hotel.

A couple of hours later, we arrived at the Chobe Safari River Lodge. It sits on the banks of the Chobe River, overlooks Namibia and flows straight to the Victoria Falls in Zambia, marking the route of our journey. The overcrowded atmosphere juxtaposed the tranquility at the lodges (10 guests or less) encountered in the previous week.

We made it five minutes before departure, enough time to overcome the terror of sharing the cruise with the largest of crowds. The majority were dressed in khakis and safari hats with massive cameras slung around their necks, exposing our suspicioun that there must have been a massive sale somewhere.

The serene river was covered in floating lily pads that appeared endless, despite more than 20 boats, with more groups of khaki-laden tourists, generating wakes and rocking us out of our reveries. It was fascinating how the Chobe River was a testament to how small we were because it never felt crowded irrespective of the armada of boats. Ironically, the lapping lullaby of these boats exuded a meditative air that relieved us of the background noise allowing us to soak up the nature.

We drifted towards lush green islands dotted around the river. From afar, we saw herds of elephants wading in the water and getting their play on, impassive to the dozens of boats and chattering tourists zooming in on their play time, including myself.  I stopped for a moment to think about why I wanted to capture every moment in haste? What makes our experience so different? Would being the first to snap a photo really evoke the true meaning of the environment? I believe words can do better justice than a picture.

Some people protested to the amount of time we took to stare at the African Fish Eagle, or the distance we kept from the elephants, or why the cape buffalo’s butt was all we could see, which brought up the essence of game drives some people don’t understand; it’s not an animal beauty parade, we have to respect their control. Halfway through the journey, as all our weight was on one side of the boat, we were caught in the marshes. It took half an hour of pressing the gas and manual untangling until we were free once again.

During the commotion, we collectively agreed to cancel our 5AM game drive the next morning, which meant coming back to the same view of the Chobe River, but this time from the land’s point of view. After the game drive, we were expected to rush to breakfast and then rush to the border to Zambia.

Cat sighting was a probability and the purpose of this journey was to travel across countries by car and receive each day’s surprise in no rush.

So far, we had one heck of an amazing time! Regrettably, our time in Bostwana was spent in the Chobe Safari Lodge, where animals sightings were prevalent. Without a doubt, the tourism board in Bostwana does an impeccable job ensuring its wildlife are kept safe and protected.

Although, we did not experience Bostwana in our usual course of driving for hours from one city to another, I can tell you one thing for sure, we are coming back.

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