One word describes today: Incredible. Yesterday, after an hour of meeting my roommates they asked me if I would be interested in heading on a safari with them to Botswana the next day. Having absolutely no idea what this entailed, I agreed (sounds kind of like the rest of my trip… oh well, you figure it out as you go right… I mean, it’s only Africa… ahh!). Anyways, we headed about an hour and a half to Botswana. The Chobe river splits four countries: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana. So we took a sketch, little speed boat across the river into Botswana and if it gives you any indication of life in Botswana, their “customs” involves signing a piece of paper saying that you are entering the country… alright, awesome… pretty laid back.
Anyways, the first half of the safari involved a river tour where which was downright amazing. The view of the African landscape with the river was one you’d see in a movie—absolutely perfect! We were able to see basically all of the wildlife from the boat (keep in mind that they were all completely wild), including: birds, lots of monkeys, baboons that were absolutely adorable as they fought and ran after one another, lizards, alligators, impala (African-like deer), large yak-like creatures, hippos (alone and in groups of up to 20—they’re hugeeee in real life!) along with many other animals. On the way back, we got lucky and actually saw a wild elephant wander down to the river for a drink and what an amazing site it was. He actually seemed pretty unbothered that we were only about 20 or so feet from where he was drinking—but he was absolutely gorgeous! He was playing with the water and splashing himself while he drank.
Then we headed back for lunch before going on the driving portion of the safari. This took us through the entirety of Chobe National Park—so it was a few hours of driving around the park. Right as we entered, we heard loud monkey noises and saw a ridiculous baboon fight. The tour guide, who had been working in the park for 22 years, even had out his camera, capturing the entire thing. Basically a baboon entered another baboon herd’s territory and let me tell you, they got angry. They chased him high up into a tree then pushed him off so he fell to the ground (keep in mind we’re only feet away from all of this, so a bit hectic). Then they chased him into the river and the entire herd stood at the shore and surrounded him. I was a bit confused as to what they were doing but our tour guide explained that this was basically their way of getting rid of the intruder baboon. By surrounding him and keeping him in the river, soon enough an alligator would get rid of the baboon… aka eat him or he would have drowned. Anyways, the baboon in the water was calling for his herd—quite loudly actually—and soon enough they arrived. So this turned into an all-out baboon battle of basically ripping each other apart, running after one another, and battling to see which herd was stronger. Our tour guide was amazing and followed the entire thing as 50 or so baboons ran around the entire shore line and eventually into the surrounding area where our jeep-like vehicle was. Let’s just say I was actually quite a bit scared for not only the baboons, but our lives! Anyways, we fortunately didn’t see any of the baboons get too injured and to my knowledge, they all survived.
Following the dramatic events of the baboon fight (also, pictures are coming once I get some decent internet access and not dial up), we saw the rest of the wildlife that we had previously seen, but lots of it and right near the vehicle. Seeing all of the wildlife in their natural state was amazing—especially the monkeys and the elephants. Chobe is actually home to 50,000 wild, roaming elephants as you could imagine, we saw quite a few—and definitely a crazy, incredible to see these enormous creatures roaming feet from your car! We saw lots of babies and they were absolutely adorable! We were also lucky and got to see a bunch of giraffes, close to the vehicle as well-which is a bit of a rarity for these guys! The landscape in both Chobe National Park and just Botswana in general was also remarkable, unlike anything that can even be explained. So, overall the safari was absolutely amazing and I can officially say that my first full day in Africa was spectacular!
I took about 400 or so pictures today and I tried to be optimistic that just one would load for you guys but you can imagine how that would go with dial-up… so I’m leaving you guys with a few I found online, but almost exactly what we saw today!
Miss you all,
Elephants and the boats that we were on!
Botswana and a portion of the Chobe River
Giraffes at Chobe!
Victoria Falls from the plane