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Hidden Paradise – Chobe Safaris
If you are passionate about elephants, then the Chobe National Park would be your Garden of Eden. A very close friend Guillaume is a French wildlife photographer who specialises in photographing elephants.
The wet season
Every year Guillaume comes to Botswana when the migratory elephants travel through the Chobe National Park, from the rivers to the pans, which during the wet season, fill up with rain. It’s during this season that not only herds of elephants flock to this area, but wildlife photographers in great profusion. The amount of elephant herds to be seen is a miracle of nature and I have never before seen so many! It is estimated that there are approximately 120 000 elephants in the Chobe National Park, the highest concentration in the world today.
Sunsets in Botswana are always beautiful, with bright colours of orange, yellow and pink across the sky in contrast with the beauty of the land. I was going to be in the Chobe National Park for two weeks, joining Guillaume for his one month stay and doing some catching up and relaxing during my yearly holiday.
Elephant Valley Lodge
During our stay, we booked into the Elephant Valley Lodge which is approximately half an hour’s drive from the Chobe National Park. I found it quite amusing that at the lodge there is a tent built facing a waterhole, aptly named the “Discovery Channel”. Waterholes offer all kinds of wonderful entertainment when the animals, especially elephants, come to quench their thirst.
On our first day we went on a relaxing boat cruise down the Chobe River. This gives you the chance to enjoy a different view of the Botswana wildlife while travelling down the river. We saw quite a few hippos which is rather frightening, considering that they can flip the canoe we were on without much difficulty. Hippos are well known for their bad tempers, but so far there haven’t been many attacks on any canoes that our guide could recall.
A few memorabilia’s…
On our game drives, Guillaume had a few very good photo opportunities. We saw four of the Big Five: buffalo, elephant, lions and leopards, but unfortunately not the rhino. Although there are rhinos in Chobe, seeing one is very rare. We also had the rare fortune of seeing Sable antelopes. Sable antelope are quite big with a shaggy mane and ringed horns that can grow over one and a half metres in males.
The rest of my stay was enjoyed with more game drives and we even had the pleasure of a night game drive, bird watching, the occasional try at fishing and a walking safari. On our walking safari I came back with cuts and bruises, which I would like to say was not my fault, but in all honesty, if you don’t look where you are walking, the chances are you will trip over something and get closer to mother earth than you’d like. Guillaume was the perfect gentleman and helped me up without laughing, but I couldn’t help but burst into laughter as I sat up straight.
A Chobe safari is definitely one that I would add on my itinerary when planning an upcoming holiday. Botswana is definitely one of my favourite African countries and your chances of seeing the Big Five are so much greater, especially during the migrating season when the animals flock to this beautiful part of the world.
write by Adrianne Bartrum