Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Lions, Giraffes & Elephants, Oh My! Part 2: Chobe

Before our trip, our pumpkin girl asked me why we were going to Africa (she’s 4 - she’s all about the “why”). When I told her we were going to see elephants and giraffes and zebras, she looked at me, shrugged her tiny shoulders and said,

“Meh. I can see all those in the zoo.”

I mean ... she’s not wrong. 

But there’s something amazing about seeing them in their natural environment. 

Here in Chobe, located in the village of Kasane, our lodge adjoined the 257,00 square acre game reserve, without a fence. As such, some of the animals roamed the lodge’s property freely. 

Monkeys are always a source of entertainment. Even when they’re wreaking havoc and I’m sure, causing the lodge staff any amount of headaches. Still, the little buggers sure are cute. 

One afternoon, the banded mongooses played on the lawn outside our room. I switched my phone to ‘video’ as they began chattering with each other. 

Only to have one mount the other, completing the agreement they had apparently just made. The male stopped mid-thrust and stared back at me. Me, having ruined their good time. 

Chobe is full of elephants. Make no mistake, they are the king of the bush. They don’t have a single enemy here (read:  no animal is foolish enough to go up against a 4-ton behemoth). 

Sadly, we’ve heard the rainy season didn’t produce enough water and many will likely die from starvation as winter (and the hottest months of the year) sets in. 

Elephants are only outnumbered by the impala. Impalas are so numerous here, that the locals and the guides call them JAFIs. Just Another F’n Impala. ‘‘Tis true, you know - our guide didn’t even stop today when we came across them in the bush. 

And we didn’t ask. 

Our sighting of two lionesses and their cubs was certainly cause for excitement. Though we celebrated quietly, lest we make them anxious and they mistake us for a snack. And then we made our getaway post-haste. 

My day was made when we found a ‘tower’ of giraffes. Six in total, including two babies. The elegant creatures with the elongated necks and spindly legs looked at us looking at them. They twitched their little ears and returned to eating leaves. The patriarch, with the darkest spots, roaming solo. 

A typical river safari yielded sightings of elephants, hippos, Cape buffalo (water buffalo), crocodiles, water bucks, a plethora of birds and water lilies. 

Beautiful, dainty water lilies. 

If there were any culling of impalas (to curb the population), I think I know what happened to them. It was common to have Impala stew or Impala steak on the dinner and lunch buffets. It wasn’t too gamey-tasting, but it was a bit on the chewy side. 

On the other hand, kudu sausage alongside a serving of eggs, was actually very tasty. 

And I’m quite certain the roasted chicken legs were that of a real chicken and not that of an African Chicken, otherwise known as the Guinea Fowl. 

I skipped the charcoal ice cream. 

The food aside, I think Chobe will forever hold a special place in my heart. So many moments, generating smiles and happiness within. 

Bouncing along in the bush, the ride reminiscent of Kilimanjaro Safaris at Walt Disney World. Our guide, talking with other guides over the cb radio in their native tongue. Not surprisingly, several safari vehicles ending up in the same location so that everyone can marvel at the pride of lions. 

The majestic movement of the giraffe and the equally majestic movement of the elephant. The eyelashes of an elephant. The water dripping from the mouth of a thirsty water buffalo. The strength of the hippos jaws as he messily chomps his lunch. The beauty of a maribou stork in flight, though their lot in life a bit on the disgusting side (as it is similar to a vulture); circle of life and all that. 

And the sunsets. 

There was one amazingly beautiful sunset while we were here. The purple as bright as that of a crayon. Reds and oranges providing the perfect accents. 

There were no pictures. The beauty of it tucked away in my memory. 

And I can hear ... 🎶

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba
Sithi uhm ingonyama