Sunday, May 15, 2016

Chobe National Park - River Cruises

In Botswana, we stayed in the town of Kasane at the Chobe Marina Lodge. On our first afternoon there we went for our first serious wildlife outing, a cruise on the Chobe River. The river forms the border between Botswana to the south and Namibia to the north. Downriver a few miles is where Botswana and Namibia are joined by Zimbabwe and Zambia in a kind of African four corners, at which point the Chobe becomes the Zambezi. From there it's another 45 miles or so downriver along the Zimbabwe-Zambia border to Victoria Falls.

There's a Botswanan flag on this island in the middle of the river, put there after a dispute with Namibia over where within the wide Chobe River the border should be was peacefully resolved by the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

We saw many animals on the banks. These animals would become quite familiar to us during our time in Southern Africa.

In the ruminant family, Kudu and Impala.

Cape Buffalo.

We saw our first of many Botswanan elephants, in and out of the water.

We were there at the end of the wet season, with no rain expected for about 6 months. During the coming dry season, the river will recede, changing many of these flooded areas into dry land.

Reptiles abounded, including Nile crocodiles:

monitor lizards:

and sizeable rock python coiled in a tree:

We saw many birds.

Malachite kingfisher.

African Darter.

The African fish eagle is an impressively large bird of prey that we saw alongside various bodies of water. It's the national bird of Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Sudan.

And dozens of hippos!

The Botswana side of the Chobe River is a national park, with strict protections for all the wildlife. The Namibian side, not being a park, is used for agriculture and fishing. We saw local fishermen out laying nets for the night. Our guide predicted that Namibia will eventually come around to protecting the area like Botswana has, for the sake of getting the tourism revenue.

Nothing quite like a sunset on the river.

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