Ultimate Africa – To Walk with Lions (July/August 2008)
a photographic safari in Botswana and Zimbabwe, Southern Africa
Day 04: Mowana Lodge (Wednesday 30 July 2008)
We had a lie in this morning, so we were up after sunrise, and a good job too since there was no electricity so we needed the daylight to see by! Thankfully, we at least had hot water! With all the bags packed we headed up to the Boma for breakfast and then headed off to Botswana. It took about an hour to get to the border and we all had to get off the bus and have our passports stamped. At the Botswana side we had to get out and walk over a wet fabric because of prevention of foot and mouth disease, then we got back in the bus to drive up to the office where we handed in our immigration forms and received another stamp in our passport.
We arrived at the Mowana Lodge just after lunch and since our rooms were not quite ready we had a drink in the bar whilst we waited. The bar looks out onto the Chobe River; the far side bank is Namibia! Apparently, there are lots of crocodiles in the river but we’ve yet to see any. Our room here is lovely and has some beautiful animal ornaments. There is a rhino at the head of the bed. The table lamp has an elephant stand and all the wall lamps are elephant heads. Our balcony also looks out onto the Chobe River (and Namibia).
Lunch was a buffet and Marlene had us both try the chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag) on buttered bread – it was quite yum! She couldn’t believe we were living in Holland so long and had never had it! Just after 3pm we were picked up in two jeeps and off we went to the Chobe National Park. Heiko and I shared a jeep with Jean, Ernie, Mel, Henry and Peter. Heiko and I had quite a challenge manoeuvring with all our gear since we were sharing the same row of seats. I think next time it will be better to each be sat on a different row! In the park there were lots of elephants and lots of calves too, perhaps aged 1-3 years. One of the little ones charged our vehicle trumpeting but not quite knowing how to control its trunk! We also watched a hippo climb out of the water and then it went on to bite the tail of a crocodile, which quickly swam away. We also watched an elephant having an enjoyable mud batch. We saw a couple of lions, a male and female, at last light. It looked like they were about to copulate but the the male got it wrong and missed the opportunity! The sun was almost down so we headed back to the riverbed to watch the sunset, and there, in the darkness, we could just about make out the silhouette of a lioness in the far distance. Once the sun was gone it got cold very quickly. We headed back to the gate with some speed but our driver was 5mins late and it sounded like he got a telling off for it. We drove quickly back to the lodge and I was quite glad to be wearing a wind proof jacket! It was actually Heiko’s jacket I was wearing, and I lent mine to Mel.
After a super quick shower it was time to meet everyone for dinner. Warthog was on the menu again! It wasn’t as good as it had been during our evening in the Boma but still very good. We had an interesting conversation with Nico about the conservation work he’s involved in; we must remember to take a business card from him. After dinner a few of us went down to the water’s edge to see if we could see any crocodiles. Since there are lights at the edge of the water, insects gather by the lights, and in turn the fish also gather there and so that’s also where you’ll find the illuminated eyes of the crocodiles. Since its winter here, there were not so many insects so that meant also we didn’t see any crocodiles.