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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Air Tree n Tree

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

They say that there is nowhere quite like Africa. 

A continent of extremes.

“Unparalleled beauty exists alongside devastating poverty, and the wonder of Africa's wildest places must be experienced to be truly understood. Many have put pen to paper to try and describe Africa's unique magic...”

I experienced true beauty and true African magic today. 

Chobe National Park

In fact, the First National Park in Botswana.

It was nothing short of breathtaking... and had I not participated in today’s unbelievable game drive & river cruise activity, I would have felt that there was an integral part of the puzzle missing from my adventure.  A few weeks prior to my trip, I overheard a couple of pub locals discussing different friends and acquaintances they had known throughout their lives who had lost their lives to cancer.  I vividly remember one of them saying to the other, “If I found out that I only had 4 weeks left to live, I would be in here drinking every day.” Of course, he was referring to the pub. The other one enthusiastically agreed.  It struck me as particularly odd, due to the fact that their plan didn’t really show contrast or vary from what has already become routine for the both of them. Sad that nothing would change with the imminent promise of expiration. If I found out that I had mere weeks to live, I would sit peacefully enjoying Chobe National Park everyday. The Chobe river & surrounding swamps, plains and woodlands support such astonishing diversity and concentration of wildlife that is apparently unparalleled anywhere else in the country. 

The stunning views from the woodlands overlooking the Chobe river and all the lush islands that dotted in between, the red sandy terrain that made up the plains, the dense & lavish woodlands... everything just swallowed you up whole.

Our day began with the usual open air 4WD game drive and ended with a sunset river cruise on a large, barge-type flat bed motor boat.

Chobe is famous for its large herds of elephants and cape buffalo and that is exactly what we encountered today. We sat quietly and watched the buffalo grazing and then witnessed an entire herd of elephants on their way down to the river front to bathe & play in the mud. Experiencing this, first hand, live, right in front of my eyes, was beyond the realms of my even my imagination.

On top of that, giraffe, kudu, impala, warthogs, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, fish eagles, baboons...

Unfortunately no lions to be seen... and no leopards either, although we were told to keep a keen eye on the branches of the nearby trees. Our guide explained that every tree was potentially a leopard hotel.

Air tree n tree.

In addition to everything, we also had the once in a lifetime opportunity of seeing;

*Hippos fighting. Actually, I don’t know if they were fighting. They just smashed in to each other a few times. When we managed to get up close to one of the hippos, the guide pointed out the battle scars on the backs of the males... caused in territorial struggles.

*Hippos grazing and popping their heads up out of the water to keep a keen eye on us.

*A fish eagle 3 metres from us... sitting in the middle of the road, minding his own business. He might have been injured, as he didn’t move at all.

*A family of warthogs grazing by a small creek. They had two babies and when they were finished eating for the time being, they made their way over to a narrow crossing.

There was a small crocodile waiting...

... watching...

... hidden in the shallow water... biding his time for an opportunity to attack...  

We were all screaming silently, preparing ourselves for the inevitable death of the baby warthog. And over it went, following the parents... and.....SNAP!

The crocodile attacked AND MISSED!!!

... the baby squealed in fear and took off running in the opposite direction. 

I fully understand that this is the circle of life, but I glad Team Warthog won this round.

Interesting facts of the day:

  • Hippos heads are so heavy that they only usually lift them up if they are warning for a charge.

  • Hippos yawning is not in fact yawning... it is a warning.

  • Hippos graze with their lips.

  • Hippos can’t swim.... they run along the water bottom and push themselves off to propel through the water.

  • There is a little black bird that can imitate the calls of larger predator birds. They use this as a tactic to steal food from animals, causing them to abandon their kill as they assume danger is nearby.

  • Buffalos do not bluff charge - if they start running, they’re coming.

  • The impala have M on their bums - nicknamed McDonlds - as they’re just a quick snack for lions.

  • Elephants will always keep their young in the middle of the herd to protect them from predators. The warthogs should adopt this concept.

  • During the drought, some animals wont’ get enough food and will die. Especially the elephants, because there is not enough greenery to fill their enormous stomachs each day.

  • Any animal that they suspect has died of anthrax is automatically burned.

The African Big 5 are:

  • Lion

  • Elephant

  • Hippopotamus

  • Giraffe

  • Buffalo

I have been lucky enough to see them all. I would have like to have seen a leopard, but it now gives me a reason to return.

The African Small 5 are:

  • Elephant Shew

  • Red-Billed Buffalo Weaver

  • Leopard Tortoise

  • Ant Lion

  • Rhinoceros Beetle

No idea what I have seen from this list... maybe everything and I didn’t pay any attention. Definitely the Tortoise and the Weaver though. 

Like any conscious traveler,  am constantly obsessed with ensuring my main possessions are with me. I call them my Big 4. Losing any of these would induce immediate panic. 

  • My passport

  • My wallet

  • My phone

  • My iPad

Just as our cruise ended, the rains came. Torrential... Funny that we have had rains every since Windhoek. Every day.

Upon arrival back at camp, Malinga had set up a long table for us all to enjoy our last meal from the truck. We all enjoyed a great BBQ and laughed about various aspects of the trip that was coming to an end all too soon. Takako, in full form & fashion, took the prize for most confused, once again. For someone who travels the world, she certainly can not consult an itinerary to save her life. For some reason, she got it in to her head that she would be staying in Zambia, in the city of Livingstone. We were all headed to the Rainbow Hotel in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  It all became terrifically confusing. She was convinced that the two towns were the same location, despite the two countries that divided them.  Things that made Takako go “Whaaaaaaat?” today:

The dingo ate my baby.

Someone referenced this 1980’s controversial occurrence about when allegedly a dingo stole a baby from a tent at Uluru in Australia.Takako become overwhelmingly concerned for the well being of the child... and kept insisting on knowing how the baby was doing.It was tragic when she discovered it died... 40 years ago.

My love of the Masters.

She couldn’t comprehend how I can watch the Masters, yet not play. She also had a difficult time grasping the fact that I didn’t know why Rory McIroy’s marriage was struggling or why Jordan Speith wasn’t currently playing to his potential.

Things that made ME go “Whaaaaat?” today;

We stopped at another strip mall to replenish and pick up lunch, booze, snacks...

The only place to eat was another bunk fast food diner called Hungry Lion. I motioned to all of the burgers displayed on the big overhead neon menu and inquired as to what meat was in the Dixie Burger. It looked like it might be fish.

The girl behind the counter turned, glanced at it, turned back to me with a completely dazed look and stuttered, “I don’t know.”

Then Lisa jumped in to inform me that this place is ONLY a chicken venue. Every burger is chicken.

Every single one.

I looked it up as soon as I was in wifi and this is what I discovered;

“Hungry Lion is Africa’s best loved chicken brand. Where you get juicer, bigger pieces of chicken and more thick cut delicious chips.”

Maybe the cashier needs a bit more training...?

Tonight is the last night for tenting.

Although I am sad that the tour is coming to an end... I will be glad to see the end of my dirty, sand filled, rusted old canvas tent. It has served its purpose well, but it is time to part ways.

I heard horror stories of insects, snakes, scorpions... but all I saw was a mere beetle. Nothing else alarming or worth mentioning. Park and Yu heard an animal snooping around the tents last night, but as I was sound asleep, I was oblivious.  David promised us that we would see a scorpion...

We didn’t.

I want some of my money back.

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