Chobe River

We had a leisurely morning at Elephants Sands as we only need to travel about 250 kms to our next stop. The elephants had finally left the watering hole at some point in the night. The lady at reception said that they won’t come back until around midday again. We continued heading north and soon we were riding near the Botswana-Zimbabwe border. Our destination was Senyati Safari Camp which is about 20 kms outside of Kasane. Kasane is on the far North West tip of Botswana and is on the Chobe River. The other side of the river is the Caprivi Strip (and therefore Namibia) and Vic Falls and Zimbabwe on the East and Zambia on the North East.  There is a point where all four countries theoretically meet in the river.

We arrived at Senyati just after midday and on checking in we discovered that we could do a Chobe River sunset cruise but they depart at 3pm and we had to be at the departure point in Kasane by 2:45pm. That didn’t leave us much time so we quickly unpacked and then headed into Kasane to do some shopping and to draw some more cash (as the river cruise costs P360 which is +- R500 or $40 per person). As we hadn’t had lunch and the KFC was right next to the Spar, some of us did as the locals do and bought KFC for lunch.

By this stage it was almost 2:45pm and the departure point was the jetty behind the Spar (which was pretty easy to find). We had a 14-seater boat for the 14 of us and after meeting Charles (our river pilot and guide) we were off. First we went downstream toward Zimbabwe and the Falls and we saw numerous birds including nesting Yellow Billed Storks with their chicks. There was so much bird life it was almost impossible to know where to look at times. We then went upstream toward Chobe National Park and after paying the park entrance fees (there is a parks office on the side of the river) we headed up into the National Park. There is a lot of game on the river banks and we saw Crocodile, Hippo, Buffalo, Kudu, Impala, Elephant and Red Lechwe.

We also saw a lot more birds and that included two different Night Herons both of which were lifers for us (one of them quite rare to see and was spotted by the youngest member of our group – Ben – who is 8 years old). In all we saw 5 lifers today (one of the best days we have had for lifers in years) and included one lifer right at Senyati as well. We are now up to 109 bird species for the trip and we have another 12 days still to go so I will be disappointed if this isn’t one of our best birding trip tallies as well. We have seen surprisingly few birds of prey so far and I am sure we will see more during the next week.

One of the highlights of the cruise today (and there were lots of highlights) was seeing a herd of elephant swim across the Chobe River to the island. The island was actually disputed territory between Botswana and Namibia and they eventually had to take the matter to the International Court in The Hague to resolve the dispute and it was declared to be Botswana’s land. They have erected a flag pole with the Botswana flag on it to remind the Namibians in case they forget whose land it is!

The sunset was also quite incredible and you almost couldn’t stop yourself from taking numerous photos of the sun setting over the Caprivi with the river in the foreground. My only regret is that the WiFi and cellphone signal is so bad that I can’t post any pictures on the blog for you to see. It was a fantastic cruise and well worth every cent we paid for it. I would do it again without hesitation.

Until tomorrow … P, H, C, S, M

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