Once again at 0600 we were at the Sedudu Gate to the Chobe National Park, but this time we had a pass for a half day drive, and what a difference it made. We took a leisurely drive along the river, no rushing, no time constraints. Mathews was our guide and he was good at it. We saw a lot of birds, and stopped for a coffee break on Puku Flats, just across the river from Namibia.
It would be very easy to become a “Bird Nerd”, there are so many beautiful varieties of birds here. We saw many African fish-eagles, the southern carmine bee-eater, and of course the lilac-breasted roller, who seem to pose on every thorn bush. There are eleven pages of bird pictures and names in my Tourist Map/guide book for Chobe National Park. I bought this guide at the Sevuti Gate and am glad to have it.
Southern Carmine Bee-eater:
Also along the river we saw fishermen in small boats (not something I would do considering the size of the crocodiles we saw) and across the river in Namibia we saw red leschwe and waterbuck.
Continuing our drive, we headed away from the river. There are three main “roads” in the park here: the road along the river, and two further inland. Inside the park you must stay on the tracks.
We found more elephants, not surprising, and baboons.
Lilac-breasted Roller: (my favorite picture of my favorite Botswana bird).
Driving still further, we passed a giraffe family and more lilac-breasted rollers. They pose on branches quite close to the road. They are stunning.
Mathews stopped at the Serondela picnic site along the river for our lunch. At first the little vervet monkeys were cute to watch. But oh my goodness they are smart.
They know the guides by what they are wearing, and they know an easy mark. My sister and I were at the picnic table, with boxed lunches open. The monkeys were at least 6 to 10 feet away. Mathews turned his back to speak with another guide and took only one step away, and that little vervet monkey saw his opportunity. Before I knew what was happening, he was on the table and had grabbed two bunches of grapes from my open boxed lunch. It happened so fast I hardly even saw it. My sister was laughing and calling me an easy mark. Mathews turned and yelled at the monkey and he ran up a tree.
The Little Grape Thief before it got my lunch:
Each time Mathews turned his back, the monkeys would move closer. All it took to back them off was Mathews turning around, and then they would run up the tree and turn and scream at him. They definitely knew who was a guide and who was a tourist.
Mathews got a radio call saying someone had spotted lions, so we quickly packed up and headed out. As Mathews packed our cooler into the back of the vehicle, the little grape thief jumped into the vehicle, eyeing the last cluster grapes in my hand.
We found the lions, we think the same three lionesses we had seen at a distance the day before. They were being closely watched by a tower of giraffes.
We watched the giraffe watching the lions, then continued on our drive. We saw zebra, and the very beautiful kudu, both male and female. The kudu males have some of the most beautiful horns, and the females look like super models.
Super Model Female Kudu:
We again set out at a leisurely pace. The road was quite deep sand and we came upon a stuck vehicle. Being a national park, you can self drive. This self drive Toyota was in trouble. Mathews was a bit wary of getting us stuck as well, so we told the driver we would send help from the gate on our way out.
(The white Toyota facing us was the one that was stuck in the sand.)
We continued along the sandy track in the general direction of the Sedudu Gate. I was sitting on the right side, always scanning the brush for wildlife. My sister was sitting on the left side, also scanning.
Suddenly my sister shouted “Leopard, leopard.” Sure enough, she got points for the best spot of the day. I’m not sure how she picked it out from the surrounding brush, and neither Mathews or I did, but she saw the cat walking, headed towards the river. You can see the cat in this next photo, if you look closely enough. Now imagine spotting the well camouflaged cat while moving. They blend in very well with the surrounding flora.
Mathews said we’d follow our track until the next road where we could turn down to follow the river road. We traveled perhaps another mile, then back tracked along the river road hoping to find the cat again.
Good luck, we spotted her, still moving in the same direction. We were the only vehicle, and kept a respectable distance, but followed her as she made her way through the brush. We think she was scouting a shady spot to spend the afternoon. We slowly paralleled her track until she went into the shade under a tree. It was a very nice sighting, quiet, and we were the only vehicle. We left her in peace in the shade of the large tree.
Very happy with my sister’s unbelievably good spotting (even Mathews was impressed) we headed back to the gate. We passed elephants heading to the water.
We checked out at the gate and headed back to the lodge.
I love this road sign:
Once back at the lodge, we had a short wait, and then our driver came for the transfer to Zimbabwe. The border was a short ten minute drive, where we were handed off to another driver on the Zimbabwe side. You first clear out of Botswana, and then into Zimbabwe with separate offices a short distance apart. Our Zimbabwe driver waited for us while we spent the 1 1/2 hours in line to purchase our Visa and entrance into Zimbabwe.
The drive from the border to Victoria Falls was about one hour. The roads were good, and we saw elephants off the side of the road.
The Road In Zimbabwe:
We had two nights stay at Bayete Guest Lodge, a very nice place. It was a little oasis.
They very kindly made us a late lunch/early dinner and we settled into a cool room with a hot shower.
Looks like you had better luck at Chobe National Park than at Kruger on our trip,
Hahaha! The pic of the two monkeys looked
like they were plotting their little caper!
Great zebra pic facing front🦓