What better combination than water and safaris?! The perfect marriage!
We had 2 wonderful experiences, first on the Chobe River in Botswana and secondly on the "Mighty Zambezi River" in Zimbabwe! Wow! You can even see the thundering spray from the Falls in this photo.
And then, to top this 1st 1/2 of our journey off - the spectacular Victoria Falls! This photo doesn't do the expansive Falls any justice whatsoever, but still very pretty!
Not only do you avoid the 'African massage' when smoothly cruising along a river but you also avoid the dusty nature of driving during the 'dry' season. If you're not familiar with the this type of massage, it's basically a tremendously vigorous Land Cruiser ride jostling about while you race to get to see a lion or leopard working towards attaining their next meal or whatever other great sighting here in Africa! Here's a pic of the vehicle during a rest stop for our usual gin and tonic "sundowners".
As you may recall, last week I related our first lodge experience for this trip at Xigera Safari Lodge in the Delta region of Botswana and it was the most awesome place! Definitely a tough act to follow.
Our next 'lodging' although very nice was a major step down from Xigera. One of the primary differences is that Chobe Game Lodge is more of a hotel style accommodation with rooms/suites vs. the separate, individual 'lodges' we'd just experienced. By far, having the separate 'unit' is our preference but Chobe does do a good job with their different style and, of course, it's much more economically priced.
The great thing about Chobe is that it's the only lodging right in the Chobe National Park and it has a pretty spot on the Chobe River too!
We saw tons of elephants although sadly at this time of year, prior to the short rains, they are struggling for food. They do, at least, have plenty of water with the nearby river. The lack of rain and vegetation though take its toll on them and some of them don't survive this period of the dry season. They were looking pretty scrawny and I'm sure anxiously awaiting the much needed rain due shortly.
Of course, always in Africa, and especially with the river backdrop, the sunrises and sunsets were spectacular!
The food and dining experiences were all very special and varied every lunch and dinner. They have expansive veranda areas with very private settings and we were able to enjoy many of them while we were there for our short 2 night stay.
We not only saw elephants but a lot of other great wildlife including Cape buffalo, lions, warthogs, crocodiles, hippos, baboons, monkeys and more.
Interestingly, just across the river was Namibia, another great African country. In fact, we often had our phones 'roaming' during our stay there.
After our 2 nights stay, we drove from our lodgings in Botswana to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The border crossing was interesting in so many ways. One that rather astounded Rene and I was the fact that we had to pay $75.00 each as Canadians for our visas into Zimbabwe, while our U.S. friends we'd just met on this trip only had to pay $30.00 each. Not sure what we ever did to the Zimbabweans to cause that dramatic difference as Canadians! ;)
Our next 'river stop', on the might Zambezi was INCREDIBLE, yet again. We stayed at the stunning Victoria Falls River Lodge and what a beauty! They have 13 luxury tented lodges and on an island across the way, they have an additional 6 treehouse lodges, 2 of which have 'starbeds' where you can sleep beneath the beautiful African sky! The place was phenomenal and the food was excellent as well!
This expansive luxury tent that we stayed in was actually one of their 5 family 'tents' with sleeping quarters for 5 people and 2 bathrooms, including both an indoor shower, tub and an outdoor shower. We also had a wonderful plunge pool on our large private deck overlooking the river. It truly was magnificent!
We visited the island treehouses that were also spectacular although smaller and being on an island may not have had quite so many animals visiting as we had on the mainland. Both have great character and would work beautifully for anyone looking for something very special in this area. The island area is an adults only property so ideal for honeymooners or couples celebrating a special occasion.
Our river safaris were very special in a very comfortable, luxurious pontoon speed boat that enabled us to watch all the wonderful wildlife both in the water, on the land, and even crossing from one side of the river to the other. Interestingly, the Zambezi River borders 2 more countries, just as the Chobe River did - here it's Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The river gives you such an amazing vantage point to view the wildlife including the Nile crocodiles that make their home here alongside the river. Did you know that Mama crocodiles actually sit on their nest of eggs for 3 months without food - is that not dedication?! Wow! She's well camouflaged in this photo - hopefully you can spot her.
The river was so wonderfully peaceful on our sunrise river cruise safari - picture perfect!
Our visit to one of the "Seven Wonders of the World", i.e. Victoria Falls, referred to as "The Smoke That Thunders" was absolutely amazing! It was such a beautiful day and even during this low water time, the Falls were still breathtakingly fabulous! Our first visit to the Falls, over 10 years ago, was from the Zambia side and although it was after the short rain season, it paled in comparison to seeing it from the Zimbabwe side. The park itself is very well organized and enables you to walk a trail that gives you 17 vantage points in which to view the falls from differing angles. Back in 2008, we did the helicopter ride over the Falls and that too was a super way to see this magnificent sight!
Our one very sad sighting here on our land safari, although it was in true National Geographic form, was of a dead elephant. The poor thing was covered mostly in Marabou Storks as it rotted away on the road in the Park. The sad part about this was that he was killed by poachers for his huge tusks. In as much as Africa's conservation efforts for their resources has improved, this poaching still goes on. The most important thing that we can all do is to NOT buy anything that promotes it, including ivory and any potions that are concocted using rhinoceros horn keratins. These beautiful creatures deserve to live and die a more natural death vs. being killed by poachers.
After four memorable nights enjoying two beautiful African rivers, we enjoyed yet another beautiful sunset that night and sunrise the next morning. We then had a great farewell at the Victoria Falls Airport prior to departing to Nairobi, Kenya for the 2nd part of our wonderful African adventure!