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SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 2012:

Sunday morning we checked out of our hotel and headed to the Johannesburg airport.
The Johannesburg airport didn't seem to be run very efficiently.
The LONG line to check-in moved at a snails pace.
We had a non-stop flight on South African Airlines to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

The video below is 18 minutes long of my journey from Johannesburg to Chobe National Park.

It was a ninty minute flight to the very small Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Airport.
There were African dancers outside the terminal building to greet us.
We left the airport and headed for Botswana. It was about an hours drive to to rural border crossing.
After crossing the border it was about a fifteen minute drive to the lodge.
On the way we saw lots of elephants off the roadside.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

South African Airlines plane on the tarmac at Victoria Falls Airport Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Airport African dancers outside Victoria Falls Airport

Chobe Safari Lodge is situated in Kasane in northern Botswana on the banks of the Chobe River and shares a
border with Chobe National Park. Right on the doorstep of the lodge is the meeting of four African
countries: Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. You really felt like you were in Africa at the lodge.
The grounds of the lodge are teaming with wildlife. Below you can see warthogs and monkeys at the lodge.
Chobe Safari Lodge Warthogs outside my room at Chobe Safari Lodge Monkeys on the walkways of the Chobe Safarai Lodge

The open air restaurant at the lodge served delicious food while you listened to the sounds of the African night.
We stayed at the lodge for two nights.
Chobe Safari Lodge Chobe Safari Lodge Chobe River from the Chobe Safari Lodge

The video below is ten minutes long of my accomodations at the Chobe Safari Lodge.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 15, 2012
Howdy everyone,

Left the hotel in Johannesburg at 7:30 this morning and headed for the airport. The Johannesburg airport is definitely one of the most inefficient airports I have been in. Long lines moving a snail pace. Our plane took off at 11:00 and it was a 90 minute flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. As we were landing we could see the mist from the falls. The Victoria Falls airport is very small. We were the only plane there.

Below is a picture of the airport.

The local citizenry was there to greet us upon our arrival.

Not going to Victoria Falls until Tuesday. Today we were heading for Chobe National Park in Botswana. About ten minutes after we left the airport, I saw an elephant munching on the leaves of the trees about 15 to 20 yards from the road. I was the only one on the bus that saw him. They all told me that I was imagining it. We drove for about 45 minutes before we finally saw another one. About an hours drive from the airport we crossed the border into Botswana. This was a very rustic border crossing. Our group was the only ones there. As soon as we crossed the border there were elephants everywhere. We even had to wait as an elephant crossed the road. Unfortunately we changed to a very small bus at the boarder and all our hand luggage was piled on our laps and no one could reach their cameras. But they say by the time we leave we'll be so used to seeing them it will be no big deal. We got to our lodge about fifteen minutes after we crossed the border.

When we arrived there were warthogs all over the lawn of the lodge. I passed the sign below as I was walking to my room.

There are monkeys everywhere. They warn you to keep your balcony door closed because they will walk right into your room.

The lodge is located just outside Chobe National Park on the Chobe River.

There was just a beautiful sunset. As I was writing this I looked out the window and saw the sun just about to go down. By the time I got outside it had completely set. Below is a picture of me just outside my room. Look for the critter just behind me.

The warthog is the one on the right. This is a very nice lodge. My bed comes complete with mosquito netting. I am about to go down to dinner now. The dining room is outside overlooking the river. Tomorrow at sunrise is our first game drive.

More tomorrow,

Tim



MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2012:

We were up before the sun on Monday for our first African game drive.
Chobe National Park covers an area of 10,566 square kilometres and has one of the greatest
concentrations of game found on the African continent. Its uniqueness in the abundance of
wildlife and the true African nature of the region, offers a safari experience of a lifetime.
The park is probably best known for its spectacular elephant population:
It contains an estimated 50,000 elephants, perhaps the highest elephant concentration of Africa.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

Half of our group up before dawn for our first game drive Entrance to Chobe National Park in Northern Botswana

The first thing we saw on our safari was a large herd of cape buffalo.
Cape buffalo, also called African buffalo, are the largest and most formidable of Africa’s wild bovids
The Cape buffalo is the only member of the buffalo and cattle tribe that occurs naturally in Africa.
The Marabou Stork is a large wading bird that breeds in Africa south of the Sahara and is sometimes called the "Undertaker Bird".
The African Fish Eagle is a large species of eagle that is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
It is the national bird of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Herd of Cape Buffalo in Chobe National Park 2 Marabou Storks in Chobe National Park 2 Fish Eagles in Chobe National Park

The hippopotamus, or hippo, is a large, mostly herbivorous mammal in sub-Saharan Africa.
After the elephant and rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal.
We heard on the radio that some lions were spotted up ahead. We raced over before they went away.
Pictured center are three lionesses and one young male in the back on the right.
The most common animal to see in Chobe is the impala.
The impala is a medium-sized African antelope. The name impala comes from the Zulu language meaning "gazelle".
5 Hippos in the Chobe River 4 Lions in Chobe National Park An Impala in Chobe National Park

The hippopotamus is semi-aquatic, inhabiting rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps, where territorial bulls preside
over a stretch of river and groups of 5 to 30 females and young. During the day they remain cool by staying in
the water or mud; reproduction and childbirth both occur in water. They emerge at dusk to graze on grass.
After our early morning game drive we came back to the hotel for breakfast.
In the afternoon we took a boat cruise down the Chobe River from the hotel.
The large Cape Buffalo pictured lower right is injured.
A Pod of Hippos in the Chobe River The Start of Our Boat Cruise down the Chobe River An Injured Cape Buffalo along the Chobe River

The kudu is a large African antelope. Male kudus tend to be much larger than the females.
All the kudus pictured below are females.
5 Female Kudu along the Chobe River A Female Kudu along the Chobe River A Female Kudu along the Chobe River

In the pictures below you can see a crocodile, lizard and a herd of cape buffalo along the Chobe River.
A Crocodile along the Chobe River A Lizard along the Chobe River A Herd of Cape Buffalo Coming Down to the Chobe River

We probably saw close to a hundred elephants during our cruise on the river.
Waterlilies in the Chobe River 3 Elephants in the Middle of the Chobe River Herd of Elephants Crossing the Chobe River

Seeing a large herd of elephants crossing the river was a spectacular sight.
Herd of Elephants Crossing the Chobe River Herd of Elephants Crossing the Chobe River Herd of Elephants along the Chobe River

We stopped the boat just a few feet in front of this herd of elephants.
We saw them bathing in the river, splashing themselves with mud and the young ones nursing.
Herd of Elephants along the Chobe River Herd of Elephants along the Chobe River Herd of Elephants along the Chobe River

All the hippos in this pod are almost fully submerged.
They make a snorting sound similar to a pig.
Pod of Hippos in the Chobe River The Chobe River in Northern Botswana The Chobe River in Northern Botswana

Our first day of game viewing was big success, we saw lots of animals.
And possibly the most impressive sight of all came just before we got back to the hotel.
Spectacular African Sunset on the Chobe River Spectacular African Sunset on the Chobe River Spectacular African Sunset on the Chobe River

The video below is one hour and four minutes long of Chobe National Park in Botswana.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 16, 2012
Hello again folks,

This email ended up being way too long. The best pictures are at the bottom if you don't want to read the whole thing. We were up before the sun today for our first game drive. Our group split into two safari vehicles. The first thing we saw was a large herd of cape buffalo.

Our guide could tell what animals had been through the area by looking at the foot prints. He spotted some giraffe prints be we never did find them. Below is what a tree looks like after an elephant finishes with it.

These large birds are maribou storks. They are scavengers and have a very large wing span.

We saw lots of different birds. In the picture below are fish eagles.

We saw dozens of hippos throughout the day. They make a very loud snorting noise similar to a pig. Notice the baby right behind the lead hippo.

We heard on the radio that some lions were spotted up ahead, so we hit the gas and sped over before they went away.

We took a coffee break along the river.

In the picture below is a vulture.

Elephants tend to stay in the brush until a little later in the day. We did see one group of elephants heading for the river.

We saw hundreds of impalas throughout the morning. This one decided he would pose for a picture.

We saw several banded mongooses following the impalas.

Below is another large pod of hippos. You can see one large one completely out of the water.

We saw this crocodile earlier in the morning in the water. When we came back a few hours later he was out on the shore.

After the morning safari we went back to the lodge for breakfast. We had some free time until our cruise on the Chobe River at 2:45. It was a little warm at the beginning of the cruise. We saw a lot of animals that you have seen above. Below is a photogenic crocodile that we got very close to.

We saw a herd of cape buffalo coming down to the river for a drink.

When the sun started to go down the cruise was a lot more pleasant. We crossed the border of Namibia during the cruise. We passed a lot of beautiful water lilies during the cruise.

The most breathtaking sight of the trip was seeing a herd of elephants cross the river.

We saw a lot of hippos, but they spent most of their time below water. There are about 10 hippos in the picture below. You can see the jaws on the third one from the right if you look close.

We drove the boat to within about twenty feet of the elephants you see below.

We watched these guys for quite a while. They would walk into the water and completely submerge themselves. There are some little ones in there too.

And in case you don't believe I am really here and am just downloading these pictures from the internet, I'll include the picture below.

My favorite picture of the day came just before we got back to the lodge.

I got a nice picture of the lodge as we were docking the boat.

Have to be up before sunrise again tomorrow for another game drive. I will dress a little warmer for this one. It gets really hot here during the day but it gets quite cold overnight. I have to go down to the main lodge building to send this email. There isn't any internet in the rooms.

Oh good, I hear water running. We have been out of water all day, a pipe broke. If you actually read all of this I hope you weren't too bored.

Until tomorow,

Tim



TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2012:

On Tuesday morning we had another early morning game drive in Chobe National Park.
One of the most widely distributed trees across Africa is the umbrella thorn.
Over 460 bird species have been recorded in Chobe, making it one of Africa’s premier venues for bird Safaris.
Pictured below is the beautiful Lilac-Breasted Roller.
The were probably over a hundred impalas in this large herd we saw Tuesday morning.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

Umbrella Tree in Chobe National Park Lilac-Breasted Roller in Chobe National Park Large herd of impala in Chobe National Park

We didn't see a lot of animals on Tuesday's game drive, and few we hadn't already seen.
We took a short tea break in the middle of the drive to stretch our legs.
There is a very large termite mound near the entrance to the park.
Be sure to watch the video above for more animals.
I concentrate mainly on the videos and then take stills if there is time.
Our group on tea break in Chobe National Park Half of our group in safari vehicle in Chobe National Park Termite Mound near the entrance to Chobe National Park

After our game drive we came back to the hotel for breakfast and then checked out and headed for Zimbabwe.


Click on the arrow above to continue to the next adventure:
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe!


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