Botswana we were told on arrival is a country full of diamonds. A smile suddenly crept on my face, then just as quickly left as it was revealed that the price of diamonds is standard worldwide. No cheap diamonds for Mairead. Luckily there were plenty more things about Botswana to put that smile back on my face. The most exhilarating being the national park called Chobe, spanning for miles and miles with no outer boarders allowing the multitude of wildlife to run free. Our very first encounter was once we crossed the border into Botswana, on the way to our accommodation an elephant the size of a two-story building strolled across the road as if we were in his way! That's when I knew this 3-day safari was going to be out of this world.
We arrived in Botswana just after midday having spent the night before in Livingstone, Zambia. The commute across the boarder was less painful than we thought. The only way across from Zambia to Botswana is on the Kazungula Ferry over the Zambezi River. Interestingly the ferry can only carry 1 large truck at a time so lines of cargo vehicles have to wait sometimes up to a week in a queue to pass over and back between countries. As expected the border security was manic but luckily our guide seemed to know some inside information, so our passports were stamped and we were across the border in no time.
Our accommodation for our 3 days in Botswana was at The Garden Lodge in Kasane. It's like a tropical oasis with dusty, red soiled surroundings and lush green gardens that back onto the bank of the great Chobe River. On arrival at the Lodge we checked in, lounged by the little pool in the blistering heat before meeting for tea and cakes at 3.30pm. This prompted the first activity of our 3-day adventure - The afternoon boat cruise in Chobe National Park.
John our guide was an absolute pro and seemed to be respected highly by the other safari guides around the park. He knew the best places to take us in order to see as much as possible. The park can get quite full especially at the height of the season, which makes it difficult at times to take a good snap.
John went out of his way to take up the best spot in order for the enthusiastic photographers on board to capture treasurable memories. After seeing endless Kalahari Elephants (the largest in size of all known elephants), enormous crocodiles with sharp teeth and glistening scales, mighty water buffalos and elegant giraffes, we made our way back to the lodge while the sun was setting.
Our stay at The Garden Lodge included 2 nights B&B, 2 River Cruises and 1 Game Drive. Evening meals consisted of everyone staying at the lodge joining together for pre dinner drinks on the veranda by the pool and sitting together in one long informal communal dinner table. The communal dining gave everyone an opportunity to discuss their travels, the animals they had encountered and in general listen to interesting well travelled individuals all within a beautiful and tranquil setting.
After hours of conversing we took ourselves off to bed only to be met by 3 beautiful hippos grazing on the lawn between our room and the river. Their silhouette was shiny against the glow of the moon. Little warthogs were following close behind. It couldn’t have been a better end to our first night in Botswana.
Our game drive the next morning took us through the depths of the national park baring numerous land animals around every turn. The most impressive; a family of lions where a lioness was prowling for food while her cubs settled close by. It was fascinating watching in silence as she stalked a nearby impala.
A family of three elephants took shade under a tree and waited while the smallest one took rest. Herds of elephants arrived in convoy heading towards the river in order to spend the day on the bank to graze and keep cool.
We left the next morning back across the border to Zambia, the same way we came.
A 3-day safari in Chobe National Park isn't as well known as the more popular places like Kruger or The Kalahari, but we're really happy we did the research and found somewhere a lot less busy, while it still has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa. Always be prepared for what you may or may not see and no matter what you do see, it’s going to be an unforgettable experience either way.
The Garden Lodge is located a mere 16km from Kazungula – the quadripoint of Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
The Chobe National park is only 2km away from The Garden Lodge and is bursting at the seams with birds, crocs, 4 of the big 5 game animals (3 of which we saw, lucky us!) and a landscape that hosts the most incredible golden orange African sunsets imaginable.
Our 3 day 2 night stay at The Garden Lodge in Kasane, Botswana included full board and activities for $395 USD each based on double occupancy.