Thursday, May 5, 2011

King of the Jungle

Daryll writes:

On Dan’s suggestion, we skipped crossing into Zambia and crossed into Botswana instead and headed for Kasane, a town close to Chobe National Park.  Chobe is meant to have the highest concentration of elephants in the world and as we drove to the little town, we had an elephant cross in front of us.  Pat, Tom and Dom were ahead of us while Ang and I hung back as not to scare the big guy. 

Elephant Crossing
There wasn’t much camping in Kasane, as many of the campgrounds were a part of fancy lodges, so we couldn’t resist and camped at the Chobe Safari Lodge.  In the car park of the lodge, there was over 10 overland vehicles with roof top tents – guess all of them just wanted some comfort for a few nights.

Chobe Safari Lodge

We bit the bullet and booked for a game drive early the next morning.  I was so excited before going to bed that I was up at 3am even though we only had to meet our Guide for 5:45am.  The 6 of us were all together in a landcruiser and were joined by a South African couple that weren’t interested in speaking to us and just spoke Afrikaans to each other.  The vehicle we were in had open sides and just a canvas roof, ideal for game viewing, but not much fun to be in at 6am on a paved road going at 80km/hr.  We were soon through the gates of the park and it wasn’t barely 10 minutes into our drive when we spotted 2 female lions and 2 cubs playing with each other and following along.  The light this early in the morning wasn’t that great, so no great photos.  We watched these 4 for a few minutes and then decided to move on and it was only another 20 minutes later that we spotted the King of the Jungle.

King of the Jungle

I’ve been on a few game safari’s now and this was the first time I saw a male lion out in the wild.  He was majestic as he lazily wandered towards us, totally oblivious of the numerous vehicles with tourists gawking at him.  Everyone was so silent as he approached our vehicle.  All you could hear was shutter clicks from the numerous camera’s that were firing off.  It was a magical experience watching him for those short few minutes before he gently drifted back into the bush and out of sight again.

Chobe National Park is meant to have the highest concentration of elephants in the world, so we were expecting to see more families of these gentle giants.  The sun was still rising and most of the elephants hadn’t come down to the side of the park we were on, so only spotted one male elephant snacking on some foliage. 

Lonely male
As the morning went on, we saw a few more animals and a family of giraffe.  The rest of the morning wasn’t as exciting as the first 30mins, but I guess everything will be a let down after seeing the King of the Jungle close up.

 New photos added to the Botswana photo album.
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