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Our phones all rang at 4 this morning. We needed to be up and about to
board the bus at 5, and our flight at 7am. The hotel served us coffee at
reception and sent us on our way with breakfast in a bag. It was pretty
Our flight to Johannesburg and then onward to Livingstone, Zambia was
uneventful, though some of us were feeling quite unwell and Lorrie had
the experience of being moved terminal to plane via the food loader
Oh yes, there was an event - when we were in the departure area at Cape
Town, waiting for the flight to Jo'burg, there was an announcement
"would passenger Hatt please report to the desk immediately." We both
rushed over, and Larry was taken outside to where his suitcase was lying
on the ground. There was much commotion among the baggage handlers
because his suitcase was buzzing! It was his electric shaver, the one
guaranteed never to accidently go on in your luggage. So he turned it
off, wrapped it in a shirt and repacked it on the tarmac. Gave everyone
a bit of excitement.
A bus and driver met us at the airport and delivered us to the wonderful
Royal Livingstone Hotel.
It's definitely my favourite so far!
We were greeted with ice tea on the lawn and could watch monkeys
cavorting as we sipped.
Our rooms are smaller than the other places, but very comfortable. We
and Lorrie have rooms off the same little alcove.
We do have to remember not to drink the water here, though.
At 4pm we left for the river, where we boarded the African Queen for a
2-hour sunset cruise.
The Zambezi is a beautiful river; sunset was glorious and we saw many
hippos and some elephants through the trees.
On the hotel grounds we saw giraffes and then elephants along the road.
There are many birds everywhere. Even after dark it was very warm
Dinner was served on the lawns after dark with torches for light. ( I
wasn't feeling well, so went straight to bed rather than dinner. )
Click below for full size show.
Having slept most of the evening, I was up and out on our terrace by
5:40am. My reward was to get a close view of 6 zebras on the lawn off our
patio! They were just stirring and starting to move off for the day. Two of
them walked within 5 metres of the terrace. The monkeys were just
to scamper about as well and I could hear many birds, though I didn't see
The sound of Victoria Falls is ever-present, and it's also obvious why
we're told to use insect repellant. I had forgotten at first, but quickly
realized my mistake and got it on.
We set out on a morning walk but in fact walked to Victoria Falls before
breakfast. The low amount of water was disappointing, but the falls are
still beautiful - all broken up into narrow cascades along a long cliff.
This is the end of the dry season so it's at its minimum.
After a lovely, relaxed breakfast we checked out of the hotel and rode
back to the beginning of the path that leads to the falls. The light was
entirely different, so it looked different and we could see the edge of
the main falls that one can only see frontally from the Zimbabwe side, a
side which is not currently safe for tourists.
We then headed for the Botswana border. Before we got to the border post,
we left our mini-bus behind and boarded a small boat to cross the river -
it had made a first trip taking our luggage and a few intrepids to watch
the beached luggage on the first trip.
The driver pointed out that in the middle of the river, we were in "No
Man's Land" - where 4 countries (Zambia, Namibia, Botswan and Zimbabwe )
It was quite an experience sitting in the vast wasteland and seeing
probably at least 100 trucks waiting to be taken, one at a time, across
the river. They often wait a day or even two for their turn. So there were
people down at the river washing and drinking. It was dry, hot, and dusty.
Also while waiting on the Zambia side, it was interesting watching the
ladies returning from Botswana loading unbelievable packages on their
heads and then carrying heavy bags to someplace up the road in Zambia. One
had a full bag of cement loaded on her head.
On the Botswana bank we were met by Chobe Game Lodge safari vehicles with
high seats and open sides.
We had to get out at the border post and have our passports stamped, as
well as walking through a disinfecting bath for our shoes, while the
vehicles drove through a puddle of the stuff.
The ride into the Chobe Game Lodge was amazing. We saw all kinds of
wildlife on the way and we hadn't even started yet! Dave Wilkes of our
group said that he saw more game on the trip in than he saw on his 10 day
Kenya safari that visited 4 parks.
We were too late for the afternoon game drive, so we had very late lunch
and unpacked, then went for a swim and a great "Hall Party" followed.
Dinner was on the lawn with great music and dancing under torch light.
I love this place - very comfortable and peaceful with beautiful
Cathy was shocked to encounter a wart hog on the lawn on her way to swim.
We all saw it later.
Photo show - click for larger
Wake up calls at 5:30 followed by coffee and snacks before we loaded up
the safari vehicles for the morning excursion. What an amazing number of
animals and birds we saw - elephants (100s), giraffes (dozens), cape
buffalo ( dozens ), impales (many 100s), kudus ( dozens ), hippos ( dozen
), a mongoose (one kind, and then a herd of a second kind), a genet, a
jackal, many zebras, many warthogs, hundreds of baboons, many buzzards,
cormorants, African Fish Eagles, Tawny Eagle, Kites, Guinea Fowl (so many
they are known locally as Chobe Chickens ) and, most exciting, a pack of
15 wild dogs which passed within feet of our vehicle. Our guide, Mr. Bean,
told us that they only see them once or twice a month.
I'm sure there were others but we lost track. It was exciting just to see
them. Back to the lodge for breakfast, then onto boats for a Chobe River
Once again - totally amazing, Elephants and impala (cautiously) drinking
from the river near crocodiles lazing on the bank. Even more birds and
animals including most of those we saw in the morning, plus swallows,
storkes, louries, ibisis, etc.
A large number of elephants crossed the river to Namibia while we watched
close by. Elephants without Borders, says Mr. Bean.
After lunch, a brief rest, re-application of sunscreen and insect
repellant and back to the safari vehicles.
Wow! what an afternoon! I can't begin to give a complete list, but there
were lots of birds - the most beautiful was the Lilac Breasted Rolleo, and
then there were Maribou Storks, Vultures, Black Stilts, African
spoonbills, Egyptian Geese, Openbilled Stork, and so on.
Of course thousands of guinea hens, many many elephants, lots of giraffes
and baboons, warthogs, kudus, impala, pukus, Chobe Bushbuck and Ta Da, Ta
Da... a lioness.
I chose that moment to mess up my camera settings, but Larry was able to
fix them, and get a great photo, even at about 100 metres across the
Mr. Bean had been about to serve us wine and appies on the sunset beach
when he got a call about the lion, and so we raced westward to the vantage
What a thrill!
So we missed the sunset party but were more than amply rewarded.
Then back to the lodge for dinner and bed.
Click show for larger view
Today Mary Ellen said "How many times can you say WOW?!" That was just
the kind of day it was. It got off to a roaring start (:-)) when we saw
two lionesses at their leisure in a field beside the road. We watched
them for awhile, and then continued on our way. I had decided that I'd
taken pictures of everything I'd seen, and that I was going to use
binoculars today, and only the small camera, while Larry enjoyed himself
with the bigger new one. I also continued to quiz Mr. Bean, our guide,
about the many birds we saw, and tried to learn a few of their names. I
took along the hotel's checklist of local flora and fauna and checked
off everything we saw. The list is far too long to reproduce here, but
suffice it to say that it was amazing! Many of the same things as
yesterday of course, but a few new ones, including those lionesses. We
did a drive this morning, followed by a boat trip, in the opposite
direction from yesterday. We were in the midst of many hippos at one
point on the river, and spent a lot of time in the midst of families of
elephants, watching how they moved and especially the relationships
between adults and calves. It was really fun. After lunch was time for a short
swim (in the pool of course, not in the river!) and then an afternoon
drive. We began with a juvenile hyena, who gave us quite a show by the
river. It drank and peed at the same time, then wallowed in the mud for
awhile. Later we saw a jackal, and finally --- tada! the icing on the
cake -- those same two lionesses and their three cubs! But wait! Wait!
There's more -- if you phone now -- we saw the lion just at dusk, and
from a distance, so we got no viable photos, but we really really did
see him! What luck we've had. We saw everything significant here except
the leopard. It was tough saying good bye to Mr Bean, though I think
we'll see him before we leave in the morning. We had a good time in the
bar, then a nice bbq type dinner, like at the Manchurian bbq in China,
where we filled our plates with the makings, and they were grilled to
order for us. Yum. Then a bit more bar time and off to bed.
Click show for larger view
Click to link to Video of Chobe National Park Safaris by Intrepids
We slept in until 7 today and then packed up for a day of travel to
Lorrie hitched a ride by plane with Elsie, Brock and Sally-Jo. They had
a spectacular view of Victoria Falls as they came into Livingstone,
Zambia. So we all await the photos.
The rest of us rode back to the river, crossing in safari vehicles.
Larry and I crossed the Chobe River from Botswana to Zambia first with
the Wilkes and all the luggage, to guard it while the little ferry went
back for everyone else.
While we waited, we talked with the porters, who were also selling
carved animals and other things. We gave one of them my Canada pin and
bought a few things.
They told us they were from an artisan's village that had been
established after their own village was washed away in a flood. They
like Canadians because Canada was instrumental in rebuilding the
village. One guy wanted us to pay for our purchases with Canadian
dollars so he could show his old grandfather what Canadian money looked
like. Eventually we were loaded up, cleared the border formalities and
drove off to Livingstone airport. Along the way we were amazed by the
beautiful jacaranda trees all dressed in purple blooms. Our flight to
Johannesburg was uneventful.
the trip through Jo'burg Airport was interesting. First, the immigration
officer extracted a promise from us that we would stay until we'd spent
all our money, then come back when we had more to spend. He was
Then a couple of clowns on unicycles gave us free packages of macadamia
nuts ( promoting the duty-free shop ). Then the police stopped everyone
to look at the passports of all the women.
Finally as we neared the baggage carousels, a sniffer dog and handler
(Dept of Agriculture ) came up to us. The dog sniffed everything and
then focused on my tote. "Have you any food?" said the handler. I had
had apples, but finished them in the previous airport. The handler said
that would have been what the dog smelled. The dog was amazing and
clearly wanted a treat for its successful find ( and got one ).
We arrived at the hotel in time for freshening up and resting before
heading out for dinner.
We saw some of the very prosperous parts of Jo'burg and entered one of
the most beautiful restaurants I've ever seen - Vilamoura. Wow! Yet
again!. Quite a contrast to dusty, bumpy roads and warthogs. Even
better, the food was as great as the surroundings.
We celebrated Sally-Jo's birthday with a cake and then ceremonially
inducted Frank as an honorary Canadian. He was gracious and funny as
always. We'll miss him when we say goodbye tomorrow.
Click show for larger view
We were off to the airport in good time as several people were claiming
VAT refunds. That proved to be quite a hassle for them, and in many
cases they received almost nothing for their efforts. We had bought so
little that we didn't bother and were glad we hadn't.
We spent our last few Rand at the airport and hugged Frank one last
time. What a sweet heart he is, besides being a terrific guide!
In Nairobi we found an airport that harkened back to Toronto
International of 50 years ago. Lots of stores seemed to have been added
along a curved corridor and the gate was between a cafe and a shop.
We had beers and soft drinks, pretty well taking over the seating space,
then walked across hot tarmac to the smallish plane (Bombardier - made
We had good views of Kenya and Tanzania on the flight, and Mt.
Kilimanjaro and its sister mountain were dramatic in the sunset.
Kilimanjaro airport is small and it took us awhile to complete health
forms for H1N1 symptoms, show our yellow fever certificates, complete
immigration formalities and find luggage.
Unfortunately 3 people in our group were missing bags. Worse still,
several students, here to climb Kilimanjaro, were missing theirs as
Finally, we were met by our new guide, Jane, and welcomed to Tanzania.
After a long wait to file claims for the luggage, a small bus pulled up,
our suitcases were hoisted to the roof and tied on, and we were on our
The road was very rough and the night was black as pitch. Other vehicles
were either speeding along with horns blowing, or crawling and being
There were people walking and bicycling beside the road, and lots places
where parties seemed to be underway.
finally we arrived at the Arusha Hotel and after a nice but very late
dinner crawled under mosquito nets to sleep. We were all very tired.
Click show for larger view
After a leisurely breakfast we chatted with the head gardener of the
Arusha Hotel. He told us his father was a farmer who would not send him
to school. When his father died, he sent his younger brother to school
and learned from him how to read and write. A very admirable man. He
worked for English-speaking families as a gardener and caddy
and als9o learned to play golf and tennis.
Our luggage was loaded and we climbed into 4 land-rover safari wagons
for the ride to Lake Manyara.
Lorrie, Cathy, Dave, Larry and I rode with Boniface. He told us that the
last 2 years and especially this past year, the wet season hasn't
provided enough water, and so the Masai are particularly in trouble. The
cattle are dying from lack of food and water and cattle are their
Part way along the road, Boniface got a call that the 3 missing suit
cases were on their way. Cathy, Gail and Elsie were delighted to learn
We stopped at a very large Curio shop to wait for the cases and shopped
until they arrived.
I've already expanded my suitcase; I think Larry will have to do so as
Along the highway we saw many Masai villages. Some houses are round and
made of thatch and sticks, while others are brick or cement block and
iron. The latter apparently belong to those who've gone to the city and
have some cash.
We saw heards of cattle and goats and many many beautiful, graceful
people walking or riking bikes.
they all wore brightly-coloured clothing - either kangas or western
The landscape looks completely desiccated and we saw swirls of dust
There were some larger towns where shops and market were concentrated.
Eventually we turned and drove up a long mountain road to the Lake
Manyara Serena Lodge.
We could see Lake Manyara stretched out below as we climbed. The lake is
greatly reduced in size with salt deposits over large areas that used to
be lake. As a result, the flamingos have left.
After a quick lunch, we had a safari in the Lake Manyara National Park.
Boniface pointed out some of the wildlife, but we've become pretty good
We saw giraffes, Vervet monkeys, olive baboons, wildebeest ( by the
hundreds ), an elephant and many hippos.
The park is lovely and green and fresh compared to what we saw along the
We had another bit of bad luck with a vehicle today, when we had a flat
tire in front of the hippo viewing area. The drivers of all the vehicles
from the Lodge pitched and changed it quickly.
Before dinner we enjoyed the singing of a choir by the pool. A great
African sound with 15 or so singers and a keyboarder.
For dinner we trekked though the dark to an open area set up for our
dinner. One of the guides showed us some of the constellations of the
southern hemisphere and then explained our location here on the western
edged of the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley.
It's an interesting place. We were the first to decide to
return to the lodge and a guard with a stick for a weapon and flashlight
walked us to our lodging.
A long, lovely, but tiring day.
Photos: Click show for larger view:
All Africa Photos
59 Selected Double Starred Africa Photos
338 Selected Starred Africa Photos
Video of Chobe National Park Safaris - September
Janice's Original Africa travel blog
|Africa By Location
Week1: Cape Town, Cape of Good
Hope, Lanzerac, StellenBosch
Week2: Zambia, Victoria
Falls, Chobe Game Park, Tanzania, Lake Manyara
Week3: Lake Manyara,
Ngorongora Crater, Kenya, Amsterdam