The early morning wake up call was at 5am so that we could be on the game vehicle and on our way to the Chobe National Park before sunrise. The lodge is a 20 minute drive from the park and as it is winter it is a bit chilly on the open vehicle so layers are the order of the day. The Chobe National Park including the Chobe river is approximately 11,700 square kilometres and is the third largest and most visited park in Botswana.
The park is not fenced and there is a major road running from Kasane to the Namibia border running through the park and on this road just near the main entrance a pack of hyenas decided to set up home in a culvert and this is were we started our drive. Unfortunately we did not see any of the cubs but we got to sit with a couple of adults for sometime before they wandered across the road and into the bush. The morning drive from this lodge lasts around four hours depending on what you come across and as we turned down the sand road that follows the river we had our first elephant of the day. He was a big male and he was standing under a large acacia tree which he then decided to shake, he raised his trunk and place it against tree, he then placed his front legs at the base of the tree and using his chest he shook the tree until the seed pods fall to the ground. Then using his trunk he sniffed out each pod and ever so gently he pick it up, curved his truck to his mouth and popped it into his mouth. It really is amazing to see such large animals being so delicate with their movements.
As we traversed the park we saw a lot more elephants and a wonderful number of birds including the magnificent Fish Eagle, in fact we ended up seeing a number of pairs building their nests as this is the breeding season. The female Fish Eagle is larger than the male and will lay between one and three eggs which Incubate for 42 to 45 days and they are very successful in rearing their chicks. If the chick can make it to 12 months it’s life expectancy is between 12 and 24 years.
Thanks to the great tracking skills of our guide Max who heard the roar of a lion and then was able to pick up their tracks we found two male lions walking near the road marking their territory. Max advised us that there were three male lions that held this territory, with the one not present today being the dominate male. Of late there had been two younger lions coming in from another area to challenge for the territory, but had so far been seen off. It is believed that the older lions will only be able to hold the territory for a couple more years as their age is now against them. I will post a video of the two males on Facebook.
Our afternoon drive was just as good as the morning drive and this time we saw a mating pair of lions but they were in very heavy bushes so we did not have a clear view. We did come across a very large herd of Sable which are a beautiful antelope and seldom seen as they like woodlands and are very skittish however, today they were by the river drinking and were very calm. There were over 20 females, eight calfs and one large male. Another great sight this afternoon was a family of banded Mongoose digging and scampering around in the soft ground and at the slightest noice running for cover in a dead tree that they have made their home. The little ones are so cute, you see just this tiny little head pocking out from a hole in the tree, then another head appears on top of the first and they have a good look around and the next second they are gone.
As the afternoon shadows lengthened the elephants came down to the river to drink and bath and at one time we counted over 60 elephants in our immediate proximity. You can sit and watch these magnificent giants for hours, especially the babies.
Another sunset in Africa and then it was back to the lodge for our last night in this stunning wonderful country.