Our next destination was up north to visit Chobe National Park in Botswana and the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. There were typically 2 ways to get there, which was either to fly to Zimbabwe Victoria Falls airport or fly to Zambia like what we did. Before the trip we found that flying to Victoria falls directly should be faster but it was a long weekend that week for the Africa (Woman’s Day) which falls on the same day as our Singapore National day and thus there was a price hike for the British Airway flight. So I opted for flight to Zambia Livingstone instead and that gave me some hundreds of dollars savings. The flip side was that Zambia is a definite Yellow fever zone and thus we gotta get ourselves a jab (which you could opt out if not going into Zambia) before the trip, which was not cheap either. And the customs did insist on the documentation for the jab, a yellow little book that we had to carry throughout the trip. Our jabs were administered in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, traveller’s clinic some 2 weeks before the trip along with the other jabs for Hep B, Tetanus and Rabies. There weren’t mosquitoes in the safari in SA due to the weather but still the jabs were precautions.
It was really great to just walk to the airport for our flights. But for the BA flight, it was pretty confusing. The airport has 2 terminals which were splitted into domestic flights and international. We had to go over to the domestic terminal to check in since the counter was there and then walk over to the international terminal boarding gate, which was a good 10mins of walking. There was a luggage wrapping service which we utilized, having heard of the many luggage security issues and it costed about 10 bucks per luggage and of course tips for the wrapping guy.
With just under 2 hours flight time, we arrived at an air strip in the huge open brown land and a tiny little airport welcomed us to Zambia.
Airport was really small. There was only one luggage conveyor belt. Once you go through the doors to the hall, you immediately reach 2 customs counters and immediately after, the conveyor belt. Luggage had to be loaded manually on the outside and only then the conveyor belt started moving. We cleared the customs quickly but had to wait for the luggage. As the luggage kept coming in, porters came to remove the unclaimed ones to the sides, their owners still waiting stuck at the customs. It was starting to get crowded, but was manageable since there were just passengers from our plane. Soon, we were on the move and met the guide at the entrance of the airport.
Our destination was the Mowana Lodge in Botswana and it seemed we were the only people going from Zambia. The vehicle with a tow cart for the luggage was for us only. Nothing much to see in Zambia as the surrounding was just leafless trees and sand. About more than an hour’s drive, we reached the border crossing, separated by a river. Chopped our passport and took a small ferry across to Botswana.
It was a short 15mins across the river and soon we were at Botswana customs. The guide brought us onto a safari vehicle, drove us to the customs and we were on our way to the lodge. Botswana was really interesting. Wild animals were everywhere. We saw elephants near the crossing and baboons close to the line of heavy vehicles waiting to make the crossing to Zambia. The assimilation of the wild and humans.
Drove for a while till we reached the town of Kasane and another 10mins or so, we reached the lodge, with a huge Baobab tree right by its entrance.
By the time we reached the hotel and check-in, it was also time to move off for the game drive in Chobe National park. We had to rush to complete the registration concurrently sipping on our welcome drinks, went over to the activities counter to sign in and rushed up onto the jeep that already had a Joburg family waiting for us to move off. The weather here was different and thus no cold wear was necessary. Left the luggage behind and we were on our way to Chobe.
It took about 20mins to reach Chobe National Park. Just like Kruger NP, this was a public park where people could drive on the main tracks into the park to view wildlife but not allowed to exit their vehicle. However, there were stipulated opening hours and thus night drive was not allowed. As usual, the main targets were still the cats.
The animals were looking almost the same as what we previously saw. The surrounding was different from Kruger, there was much more open spaces and also a river in the park itself. It was a different kind of safari experience altogether.
Moving around the park, everyone was really wanting to see some cats because there wasn’t much enthusiasm when we saw other wildlife, at least compared to our first encounters. There were some interesting sights though.
Similarly, the game drive also planned a sundown rest stop. At the rest stop, passengers could get off to go to the restroom and have a beer. Though it was still within the park, the rest stop was made for this purpose and relatively safe from the wild animals or at least when we were there. No cats so far.
Saw the usual herbivore herds of impalas, kudus, giraffes and others like warthogs and baboons. Went back to the lodge, disappointed and hungry. Better luck tomorrow maybe?
Had a short rest in the room before heading out for dinner at the restaurant which was included. Buffet spread with lotsa types of meat. There were also exotic flavours such as kudu meat and a dish with cooked bugs, which I did not try! Food was ok Also met a local lady who joined us for dinner and a little conversation before we left for the room. Watched TV, surfed net and slept.