Chobe Trip Report

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Thanked: 3

    Default Chobe Trip Report

    This trip report has been a long time coming.
    I actually prepared it last year after our trip but had no idea how to load photos and what's a trip report without photos.
    After reading all the issues around Chobe, I thought it's about time I did something about it so here it is.
    We had an awesome trip but looks like it might have been our last.

    Take note, all of our sightings apart from the first hippo and ellie pics, and of course the lion at Serondela, were all west of Serondela.
    Hope you enjoy

    Just over a year ago, close friends of ours bought a 4x4 and were desperate to go on a trip to Botswana. Having visited Botswana ourselves a couple of times, we decided on Chobe as we felt it had the most game and was easiest to access for such a short trip – we only had a week.
    So off we went (3 families: Adcock’s (us), Wilson’s and Mallaby’s) and here is our report – some may find it a little boring as it was only Chobe NP that we visited
    FRIDAY 8 JULY 2011
    Left Jhb at around 10am en route to Kwa Nokeng Lodge at Martins Drift border post. As soon as we hit the highway, my husband (Nigel) complained that Scratchy (our trusted 1996 Discovery) had no power, but on we carried. A stop at the Wimpy for lunch in Mokopane filled hungry tummies and allowed the kids to let loose some energy. The border crossing was uneventful and pretty quick apart from the SA gate official checking and re checking engine numbers. We had the same incident last year when we travelled via Bots to Zambia and Zimbabwe. Foot and mouth outbreak forced us to walk and drive through the drip “trays” but all officials were very pleasant. Chilled around the camp at Kwa Nokeng for the afternoon. We originally had decided to drive straight through to Nata but at the last minute decided to extend the trip by a day and stay at Kwa Nokeng so to split the long drive up. As a result of short notice, we were only able to book 3 safari tents and took a small dome tent for 4 of the kids to sleep in. We erected this on the grass between two of the safari tents. The only problem with the safari tents is that they are situated at the side of the lodge closest to the border. For those who have stayed at Kwa Nokeng before you will know that it is right at the border post. After a great supper at the restaurant, we headed for bed. I slept like log but others in our group heard all the trucks crossing the border. With the border closing at 10pm they expected the noise to stop but little did we know that road works needed to be done. No sooner had the noise stopped from the trucks, the jackhammers started!!! I continued to sleep like a log!!! Heard a little when Nigel crawled into the tent after a few whisky’s with the boys but straight back to sleep.
    9 JULY 2011
    Headed off fairly early and stopped for breakfast at the Wimpy at Palapye. Seems to be the place to visit on Saturday mornings as it was packed. We arrived just as another large group were leaving so were lucky to be seated immediately but there was quite a queue behind us. After breakies, headed up to Elephant Sands 50km north of Nata. An uneventful drive apart from Scratchy still being sluggish and a lot of vet fences where we had to “dip” because of the foot and mouth outbreak.
    Our first sighting of game was close to the entrance of Elephant Sands on the main road which is undergoing road works. Two elephants crossed the road in front of us. We arrived a the lodge in the early afternoon and spent a very lazy afternoon at the lodge. We had booked chalets for the evening with two families staying in the family chalets and the family with smaller kids (Mallabys) having to stay in a double chalet with kids sleeping on the floor. We had previously stayed at the lodge on Friday evenings which is normally very busy but this time round was a Saturday and was far less busy. Our dinner was superb!!! T-bone and fillets steaks along with chips, salad, veg, etc., etc. The T-bones were huge and my husband eat two!!! After dinner we sat around the fire chatting to other visitors. A group were on their way down from Ihaha and had stayed for two nights. They said they hardly saw anything apart from elephants. They did not even see buffalo. My husband and I found this hard to believe as there are hundreds of buffalo there, as well as a resident dugga boy in the camp. This placed some doubt into the other families as we had advised them we would see loads of game in Chobe.
    As a result of a baby elephant falling in the pool last year and the guests safety at heart, the lodge owners have had to build a wall into the slope leading up to the pool which prevents the elephants from getting access to the pool. Due to this, as well as the road works, there certainly aren’t half as many elephants visiting the lodge as before. Up to after dinner drinks, we had not seen another elephant yet. But perseverance paid off. After almost all had gone to bed, a lone bull came down to the water hole to drink. He was huge and quietly walked down to the water to drink. He must have been 10 metres away from us in the still of the night with only 2 of our families watching him. Pure African magic!!!

    10 JULY 2011
    We headed off to Chobe at around 9am as we still had to buy meat in Kasane before heading for camp. The road works were still under way for another 76km past Elephant Sands but the going was not too bad. We saw loads on the way up – elephant, zebra, more elephant, impala and eland. Due to the foot and mouth outbreak, Botswana were not able to export their meat to Europe and a tip from a trusty cattle ranch owner in Botswana, lead us to the Spar at Kasane to purchase our meat. Ladies headed off shopping whilst the men filled up the vehicles. Well, the meat was fantastic and cheap cheap. Rib eye for P39,99 per kg!!! After a quick shop, we headed off to the entrance gate, paid our fees, deflated tyres and Ihaha here we come!!!
    And once again, Chobe did not disappoint!! We decided to do our drive to the camp via most of the river road. Game everywhere!!! Somebody kept saying it was like the lion king!! One thing we did notice from our trip 1 year and 1 month previously, was how dry the park was even after all the reports of water water everywhere. Checked in at Ihaha and driving to our camp (No 3) we saw monitor lizard, ring tailed mongoose and the first view of our site treated us to fish eagle, buffalo and warthog feeding right in front of us. Immediately after stopping our cars a hippo walked out of the bush to our left and made his way down to the river. One of the dads turned pale!!! We set up camp and lazed around for the rest of the afternoon enjoying the resident game. Just after dark Nigel, myself and our daughter, Keri, walked up for a shower. We came back to a very excited camp as a honey badger had visited!!! My son, Liam, was not impressed as whilst the “city slickers” were chasing him away he was trying to take video of his first sighting of honey badger. No need for the disappointment though as Mr Honey Badger and his mate visited the camp every night after that too. Headed for bed with not too many noises in the night. But who would know as I slept through a jack hammer!!!
    11 JULY 2011
    Took a drive quite early and headed towards Lechwe Flats. We were not able to visit this area last year as the water levels were too high. Did not see too much game here other than some really big hippo but it was nice to take this little detour in the park. For the rest of the drive, saw the usual game and plenty of it. Headed back to camp for lunch. The baboons had raided camp but luckily we had packed everything away. Some of the guide ropes were out and they left a lovely big poop on one of the tents. At lunch, Liam and Keri were busy taking some viennas out of a packet when another hand appeared and helped itself to a sausage. When they looked up there was an enormous baboon sitting eating lunch with them. We all thought that it was hilarious but the kids screamed and made a mad dash away, at which time the baboon made a dash in the opposite direction. After lunch took a short drive to the west of Ihaha. Again plenty of game with elephant everywhere.
    Had a fantastic dinner in camp and were visited again by Mr Honey Badger. Quite unconcerned about people. Headed for bed for another peaceful night in the bush.

    12 July 2011
    Rest of our group decided to head into Kasane for the day. We decided to take an early morning drive and to spend most of the rest of the day around camp. As we headed out of camp the baboons were raiding another camp site. We saw plenty of game again on the early morning drive but no cats yet.
    In the early evening (5pm) myself and Keri headed out for a drive. Just an hour. Headed along the river and when time came, turned around to head back to camp. Love this time of the day and there were plenty of elephant coming down to the water to drink. Were delayed by them a couple of times crossing to the river. Got some brilliant shots of the sunset and also saw a nice herd of giraffe eating from a tree right next to the road.
    Delicious supper again round the campfire.

    13 JULY 2011
    The Wilsons and Mallabys headed off to Victoria Falls for the day. We decided not to go as we had seen them a couple of years previously. Instead we would take a very lazy drive to Kasane for lunch.
    After breakfast and showers – Liam was stuck in the showers for some time until we realised he had been some time – we headed off to Kasane but the long way round. Drove along the river for a little while in a westerly direction where we saw a lovely flock of pelican, some sable, jackal and loads and loads of buffalo and then decided to head inland. After all our trips to Chobe, we had never been in this area of the park. Obviously a lot dryer but very scenic and surprisingly quite hilly. Usual game and quite a few zebra which we had seen little of at the river front and a lot of birds of prey. Came out at Ngoma gate and headed to Kasane along the tar road.
    We have always loved The Old House and headed there for lunch. As per usual, great food at a good price and it is the place where all the locals visit. Next year we are visiting Caprivi and have booked into The Old House for 2 nights on the way back.
    After lunch went back into the park to head back to camp. Nigel decided to let the kids direct and we ended up on the Upper Road. Hardly any game apart from a few elephants at the start. However, when we hit the road that headed to Serondela, we saw a giant eagle owl in a tree with a chick. Also when we got to Serondela, we had our first sighting of lions. Three females and a young male resting. We heard one of the other vehicles mention that there is a female around with cubs but we did not see them. Stayed and watched for a while and then headed back to camp as it was getting late.
    The Wilsons and Mallabys arrived back just as we did and it seems that they had a good time at the falls. They entered via Zimbabwe with no hassles at all. A decision was made that would leave camp very early the next morning – 6:30 opening time – and go lion hunting!!!

    14 JULY 2011
    What a day this was going to be!
    Resident buffalo decided to walk right through our camp site while everybody was standing around drinking coffee. Everyone scattered back to their tents for a short while, while he decided to mooch around. Then, headed off lion hunting! All the kids in Scratchy!
    We decided to go back to Serondela as this is where the lions seem to be. We saw a couple mating there last year and was wondering whether the cubs that had been mentioned were the outcome of this. On the way we saw African wild cat and a hyena. At White Sands we caught a very quick glimpse of a male lion and then he disappeared and we could not see where too. We followed some spoor and ended up at the river front. What a surprise!!! A large pride with 5 cubs which were playing. Only disappointment was all the safari vehicles who drive right up to the lions. The lions did not seem too phased though. After a while the lion moved up the ridge and into the bush and we lost sight of them. On our way out of White Sands we saw a vehicle stopped at a little mound and as we approached we saw a tiny little cub stick his head out of the bush on the top of the mound. Apparently there were 3 of them with no mother who had obviously gone off hunting. We waited round for some time but never saw them again and mom did not come back. Kids were getting restless so headed back. On our way I mentioned to Nigel that we had not seen any ground hornbills as yet and we turned a bend and there they were walking towards us.
    Spent the rest of the day in camp and decided to go on a late afternoon drive. The Wilsons and Mallabys headed back to Serondela. We decided to take our own route. Just out of camp, we saw a big herd of elephant drinking at the water with one of them standing in the road and not moving for nobody. Sat by them for some time getting great photos of the babies. When we could eventually move past, the boys decided that they wanted to go and see if the lions were still hanging around. As we passed the army base, we saw a load of the soldiers out with their guns and pointing at something. Drove down and asked them what was going on and got to speak to a gent who could not speak English very well. We were told a tiger had just walked past their base!! Another soldier approached and told us it was a leopard. Well you could imagine the excitement in car especially when it is bush mad Liam’s favourite animal!!! Drove slowly along the river where the soldiers were pointing and saw nothing. Luckily the road made a loop back to the base. Drove the loop. Turned around and still no leopard. Eventually we saw her not 15 metres from the army base and boy was she beautiful and we had her all to ourselves!! Unfortunately by this time the sun had nearly set and the light was bad so could not get a very good photo of her.
    Our last night at Ihaha was lovely as was every other night. There was an element of sadness though that the week had passed so quickly. Mr Honey Badger visited for the last time.

    15 July 2011
    Early start to pack up and head off for a long drive to Kwa Nokeng. Liam was very sad to be leaving. Sadder than ever before as we normally head off somewhere else from Ihaha, but this time we were heading home. As it was a Friday, the traffic officials were out in full force. No problems though and all very pleasant. Just after the vet fence south of Francistown Nigel realised the head in Scratchy had gone and thus the reason for the sluggish driving. By this stage it was obviously worse so will filled up with water, loosened the water cap and carried on all the way to Kwa Nokeng Lodge.
    This time we stayed in the luxury safari tents. They were lovely and absolute value for money. P500 for a family for the night. Again eat at the restaurant and spent our very last night in Botswana around the fire with a few drinks. Our stay was very different than the first night there, for some of us a lot more peaceful. We decided to head off early in the morning as we were not sure whether Scratchy would get us home or not. After the border crossing we were leaving a trail of white smoke and were quite worried. However, Nigel loosened the water cap some more and from there on in, Scratchy was fine and got us all the way home by 12 noon with no problems. The rest of the gang stayed on for breakfast and had a very lazy morning at Kwa Nokeng. They also arrived home safely after a fantastic trip.
    Everyone enjoyed it and the “city slickers” are now hooked.
    Can’t wait for the next trip!!!

    Some tips:
    · Elephant Sands is still a great experience and good value for money
    · Ihaha is fantastic despite some negative reports about theft. We had no problems and there is nothing better than an African sunset from Ihaha camp
    · Don’t leave expensive shoes outside. Wayne Wilson lost one and we think maybe Mr Honey Badger pinched it in the night
    · The Old House is a great spot for a meal away from all the tourists
    · 5 nights in one place is now our preferred time of stay - where we can. It gives you plenty of time to explore a place and get the most from it.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Walker Bay
    Thanked: 1020


    Great pics - Leopard is superb!
    Last edited by Paul Dold; 2012/02/01 at 10:08 PM.

    “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same." - Ernest Hemingway

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