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Sunday 4th June 2017 How are we managing to fit so much into 24 hours whilst here holidaying when normally it would be a couple of cups of coffee, a couple of meals and a single Times Sudoku in an average day? Heaven alone knows but I hope you're as tired as we are after reading this! Today after a hearty breakfast at Avani, Victoria Falls we load all our bags and join a London couple who are also heading to Botswana today, for the one hour transfer by very good tar roads to Kazungula! When we arrive at the port on the mighty Zambezi river (where huge flat-bed trucks laden with Copper wait for at least a week for the single Ferry to take them over the river, their is a new bridge being built - slowly!) we are in a convoy of vehicles, it's complete madness. On our own, without our driver Daniel, we could quite easily be here forever. It's crazy, a scary scenario James Bond style. But with our driver we meander through the chaos, between lorries to the left, trucks on the right, guys eating out of cooking pots on the back of the flat-bed trucks, drivers playing cards. But we are suddenly parked by the makeshift waterfront. Rubbish and plastic bottles float by as hawkers tell us their names as they try and sell their wooden animals and homemade jewellery. Daniel and friends quickly load our bags onto a cumbersome metal flat bottomed boat, more American Navy than African Queen. Within minutes, with hasty goodbyes from our Zambian helpers we are whisked over the huge river and met by the Botswana driver and his open sided Safari vehicle and told we have to clear customs! So passports in hand four lonely British tourists stand inside a very ramshackle customs building ready to pay the newly installed 30 US $ Tourist tax - but are told we can't, as the machines aren't working yet - so we get our passports stamped and within 20 minutes we are booked into our home for the next 2 nights at Chobe Bush Lodge, Kasane, result! We have the most idyllic room, complete with fabulous swathes of mosquito netting over our bed. We are booked to do a Game drive within hours so we get sorted, dressed for the Safari occasion and off we go! Haskins is our driver, quite young and a bit inexperienced we decide but he's been working as a Safari guide for 5 years, so we're in his capable hands for the next 3 hours as he drives us around parts of Chobe National Park. At 12,000 square kilometres, it's a huge expanse of scrub, trees, wide open plains and also a beach like frontage to the Chobe river and islands overlooking Namibia. The deep sand and rough gravel roads are a challenge for the 10 passengers as Haskins informs us of all the information of what we could see during our afternoon drive as slowly the African sun sets and the temperature goes from 26c to nearer 10 by the time our drive is over. But in that time we must have travelled at least 20 miles and see Impala, Kudu and Puko all types of Antelope found in Botswana. The Impala are many and are nicknamed McDonalds as they are food for the masses! Giraffes cross our path on many occasion so graceful and beautiful they are. We drive down to the river and along the beach area and I photograph 2 enormous crocodiles that are thankfully over on one of the islands basking in the sun. Herds of Elephants and Africa Buffalo are feeding on the lush grass also on the island in front of us, also hippos and the broad wide blue skies help make the most perfect picture opportunities. We stop for drinks at a recognised picnic area and discuss how amazing are the things we've seen and head back for our last half an hours drive before we get back to the lodge. Our driver gets a message on his radio and we load back into our Safari vehicle and speed off on a mission. The light is fading fast as it's approaching 5.30 and the sun has set but it's then we see three vehicles at precarious angles parked up and we now know the reason. We get ourselves a pitch and just to our left, sat just 50 yards from us, resting peacefully but watching every move, is a fully grown Lioness! She is stunning. Wow! We can't believe it so we all sit motionless as the light disappears and take what photos we can. After a while we reluctantly leave and realise as we go just the other side of the bushes in front of us was another Lioness. What an afternoon we've had. Monday 5th June Early mornings are the norm on this trip and as we were told it gets very cold overnight. We are off on another drive at the ungodly hour of 6am and we are wrapped up, but are not totally prepared for for almost freezing point temperatures. This morning we drive through the bush for over an hour and have only seen a few Impala when we again get a radio message about a Lion and once we find her we get some lovely photos of her yawning and resting whilst watching every move from a close herd of Impalas, I guess we know what's on her mind. We don't see a single Elephant today but enjoy our three hour drive including one funny moment when both Haskins ( our guide again today ) and myself shout Pumba! We have seen a Warthog and it's baby as any Disney fan will appreciate the name. There are Giraffes all around and just a few Zebra, but not so many creatures are awake today or maybe not visible to us. Back at the lodge we feed and prepare ourselves and within hours we are off on a river cruise along the Chobe. There are 3 boats each holding around 50 passengers lined up on the jetty at the Chobe Lodge Hotel, which is just across the road from our own Chobe Bush Lodge. The boats are all full with folks from many countries of the world as we glide off on our afternoon adventure. We are totally spoilt with masses of Hippos bobbing up and down in the water, eight of them in our first sighting. There is a herd of about 30 Buffalo feeding with their babies who we watch and also a gorgeous pair of Pied Kingfishers who are nesting on the bank in front of us and then we meander around the different islands that make up this amazing area. It is stunning, we are lost for adjectives for this trip. How to do describe so many fantastic moments without making it sound oh so boring but this place and especially this river cruise has blown all our expectations. A few photos might help you understand how good it was but as we were getting towards the end of our wonderful afternoon we saw a total one off, not just for us tourists but for a few of the regular guides. A large Elephant we had been watching on the shoreline, kept walking towards us, flapping his ears only 20 yards in front and kept coming! In the next 4 minutes he swam a distance of almost 80 yards lover to the island as the boats captain reversed our vessel out of the way and I videoed, as cameras furiously clicked all around. What a moment that was. Pied Kingfishers became a favourite Tuesday 6th June Another day and it's almost time to move on, but first, with a new guide Roy we head to do our final game drive in Chobe National park. As the sun rises we watch a fantastic display from a huge family of Baboons as well as again seeing plenty of Giraffe, Warthogs and Antelope. After breakfast back at the Lodge we are packed, collected and within 10minutes booking in at Kasane International airport. It's undergoing huge renovations so does resemble a building site at the minute but within 20 minutes of arriving at check in, we are aboard a 5 seater 'G8 Van' plane with 2 pilots taking up the front of this tiny little vehicle which will transport us down to the Okavango delta and our Camp for the next 3 nights which is 1 hour 15 minutes away. Marabou Stork Vultures An African Fish Eagle A Hamerkop - Yes I am becoming a Twitcher!!! A beloved Hornbill Just one more fabulous sunset
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