Sunday 30-06-2013: Game drive and boat cruise

Today we were up before dawn, even earlier than a school day (5:40) because we were going on an early morning game drive. We piled into the open-air safari vehicle (sans breakfast) at 6am, thinking we were heading off to Chobe National Park. Unfortunately, we had a stop first in the opposite direction – at the Toro Lodge (where we almost stayed!). Here we picked up Scott, a med school student who (like the RoxLat Scott) did his undergrad at Johns Hopkins.

Once we had Scott in the vehicle, we were truly off, complete with blankets to (try to) keep us warm in the freezing, sunless morning air. I was so glad I brought my gloves, though mad that I had left my hat back home in Gabs.

Once we entered the park, we headed down a road that took us to the riverfront. There we saw hippos, impala (on land) and many different species of birds. We went further inland and all of a sudden found a mound with a large hole in it.

Seymour stopped the vehicle and proceeded to tell us a story. He said that warthogs go into these holes butt-first, and that other animals will wait for hours outside these dens for the warthogs to come out. Since the warthogs need to come out to eat, they have developed a technique for coming out and injuring and/or scaring the animal waiting to eat them. The warthogs “fly” out, cannonball-style from their hole, Seymour told us. We (i.e. I) burst out laughing at this wonderful visual.

After that, we had a food and coffee break. I was so happy to see biscuits and had a lot of them and instantly was in a better mood! After that, we were rounding another corner and there, super close to the vehicle was a giraffe! It was just chewing its cud, as casual as can be, but it was so cool (I’ve never seen a giraffe in the wild before!)

We then headed back to the lodge – just in time for some last minute breakfast (although sadly that included cornflakes sans milk, but I was able to cut up and salt a hard boil egg and put it on a piece of toast, which was delicious).

Alice and I then took a nap in our wonderfully warm tent. Later, I took some pictures of the lodge (which I will later post on TripAdvisor). We were told to be ready to go to lunch at noon.
We were driven to a gorgeous lodge on the Chobe River called Water Lily. First of all, as soon as we pulled into the parking lot, we were greeted by a warthog in a pen, eating away at the grass. Then, we were brought around to the dining area, a gorgeous place where the pool was to our left and the Chobe was (a few hundred feet) to our right. I had a delicious chicken sandwich, and even though the service was super-slow, it was nice to sit and chat while enjoying the lovely views.

The lodge itself was beautiful – the rooms were arranged in a circle, with an open-air courtyard in the middle. In the courtyard was a cute little fountain that had a metal statue of a frog in it!

After a little bit of confusion, we realised that our boat tour actually left from Water Lily’s dock. We boarded the boat, and were off. Or so we thought. Turns out that we had to get some sort of permit before we could actually go anywhere near the animals in the river, so after travelling on the river for about 20 minutes, we “anchored” the boat (i.e. tied it to a stick on shore) and our guide registered our boat there.

Then we were really off. We saw a bunch of elephants grazing on nearby islands and on the shores of Namibia. There were also crocodiles and many different types of birds. To top it all off, we were even able to watch the sun set over Namibia/the Chobe. You can see some pictures here: https://picasaweb.google.com/104071111771440864502/20130630GameDriveRiverCruise#

We headed back, and there was Seymour, waiting to take us home. First, though, we decided to go visit a Baobab tree that at one point in time had been a prison. When we first arrived, there were warthogs in the gutter nearby!

The tree itself was huge – and, Seymour told us, used to hold up to five prisoners at a time! Around the other side of the Kasane Police station was another Baobab tree, which was even bigger. Apparently this tree is home to some warthogs, too. The trees were so old that they didn’t feel like trees – they really felt super sturdy and almost rocklike.

We then got dropped off at the lodge and Alice and I went straight to dinner, while some of the other interns checked WiFi. Tonight we didn’t have a choice for dinner, but that meant that it came out quicker than last night. We had beef stew, chicken and rice. However, dessert was delicious ice cream and really good fresh fruit!

TGT: 1) delicious chicken sandwich at Water Lily 2) being on the water/watching the sun set over the Chobe River 3) hearing the warthog story about how they exit their dens and seeing giraffes for the first time in the wild on the game drive!

Until next time,
~JK

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