Before I go into the details of the Botswana safari, I definitely recommend that you read my post in which I tell you useful tips for the safari preparation.
After our adventure in South Africa, we flew to Botswana for a 4-day camping safari in Chobe National Park.
Botswana safari, Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park is located in northern Botswana, along the border between Namibia and Zimbabwe. Chobe National Park has the largest elephant population in Africa, home to about 50 thousand elephants with its lush vegetation. But beyond elephants, it has a very rich fauna thanks to the Chobe River, which provides a reliable source of water for the fauna throughout the year.
Already when we came from the airport, during the short 10-minute drive, we saw elephants, kudus and warthogs, so it turned out to be a good start.
We paid for a safari where we could spend two nights in a tent in the bush. We had a big surprise, because it was originally supposed to be a group tour, but at this time no one had signed up for this tour, so therefore we had a private tour, where we had our own tour guide / driver, and we even had our own chefs.
But it was really just luck, there could have been 9 of us in the group. However this way, everything was tailored to our needs. And we were also lucky with the tour guide, because he was a son of the jungle, he grew up in the Okavango Delta and had been doing this for almost thirty years, so he had enormous experience.
It is very useful on a safari if the tour guide knows where to go based on the footprints and sounds of the animals. And besides, he also has deep theoretical knowledge about animals.
For us, this safari in Botswana was the first safari of our lives, and it went very well, we saw a lot of animals, even though we were there in the rainy season, we only got soaked once. However, thanks to the season, the vegetation was wonderfully green and lush. By the way, we were surprised at first that it was so lush, many times we felt like we were in a forest / jungle, even if you would normally imagine a savannah landscape for a safari.
This lush vegetation often made it difficult to see the animals, and since it was the rainy season,the animals were not in need of the Chobe River water, because there were lot of waterholes in the forest, filled with rain, but we still had a 5-star experience and saw a lot of animals: elephants in all quantities, giraffes, lions, buffaloes, hippos, crocodiles, zebras, beautiful birds, baboons, snakes, warthogs, impalas, antelopes, kudus, jackals, insects... it really felt like we had been in a documentary.
Every morning we got up at 6 a.m., had a quick breakfast, and then went on the morning game drive. Then around 11-12 we went back to the tents, where the chefs were already waiting with delicious fresh lunch, then we had a little rest. Then we continued with the afternoon game drive until sunset, followed by going back to the tents for dinner and sleep.
Even though we didn't have to move much because we sat in the car almost the whole time, we were still tired at the end of the day and slept well at night. The many experiences and the fresh air had had their effect.
In addition to the car game drive, we had the opportunity to go on a boat trip to the Chobe River twice. Which was also a nice experience, since this riverside area was where we saw the most hippos, crocodiles and buffaloes.
Also, as the Chobe River is the natural border between Namibia and Botswana on this stretch, we practically were cruising in Namibia as well during the tour.
Coming back to the topic of camping in the bush, I would like to share my motto for my travels: I would rather have a million stars in the sky than 5 stars at the hotel door. It's no coincidence that we go on campervan trips so often, and in this case we also chose camping instead of lodge safari.
It's an amazing, when you wake up at night and hear the sounds of the wilderness. When camping on safari, you have to imagine complete nomadism (especially in Chobe National Park in Botswana), simple little tents around a campfire, completely in nature, where there is nothing built.
The chefs cooked under a tent roof using all kinds of camping equipment, such as portable gas bottle, pots, in a full nomadic environment, but they made divine food, and they had fresh water stored in a large tank on the car, which normally needs to be refilled every 4-5 days outside the national park in Kasane.
The bathroom should be imagined in the same nomadic way.
The shower is a stand that is surrounded by tent material and there is a hanger on the top of it where you can hang a small water tank, for which you can boil water on the fire.
But when you get back to the campsite tired in the evening, and it's already getting dark and an army of insects are coming from their daylight hiding, you may not be in the mood for such a nomadic shower, so it's always a good idea to bring a pack of wet wipes, it can be very useful.
The toilet is not something which is as easy to skip like an evening shower. But you can imagine similar conditions: a hole in the ground … :D
You have to be aware that this is part of the camping experience. But despite of this, I would choose this again, because camping and being close to nature makes up for everything.
Also, it is very beneficial as this way you don't have to travel for hours in the morning to get to the National Park, but you practically wake up and you're there right away, this saves you a lot of hassle and you have a much better chance of seeing as much as possible during your safari.
Although I have already highlighted it in my safari preparation blog post, I will say it again here that binoculars are incredibly important accessories. Binoculars and sunscreen should be the two most important things you take with you on a safari.
In a nutshell, that was our safari in Botswana, where we were enriched with life-long memories.
Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls
After that we continued our journey and headed to Zimbabwe. We booked a tour in a way, that after the safari we had 2 extra days in Zimbabwe at the Victoria Falls but here only the transfer and accommodation were included in the package.
As I mentioned, Kasane and Chobe National Park are along the border and you can be in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe within an hour. Our tour guide took us to the Zimbabwean border, where the other driver was already waiting for us on the Zimbabwean side. At the border, we had to quickly apply for a visa and go through screening, but everything went very smoothly. And by the way, there was quite a difference between the border buildings on the two sides of the border. The Zimbabwe site was much older and run down. But everything went smoothly with the border crossing itself. And then after an hour's drive (through the national park, where we saw elephants, giraffes and baboons from the car) we arrived in the city of Victoria Falls, where the Victoria Falls waterfall is located.
Victoria Falls is located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is the widest waterfall in the world, with its 1708 meters. Its height ranges from 61 to 108 meters. And because the huge mass of water rushes into the valley from such a height and for such a long time, on the one hand it is very loud, and on the other hand it forms a huge mist curtain (which can be seen from up to 40 kilometers away). So often the waterfall itself is barely visible due to the mist, but it's worth waiting because it appears every now and then.
Also, the experience depends a lot on the current time of year. I think the best time for this is when the amount of water is medium, such as in January, because then you can enjoy the view with enough water running down the falls.
The waterfall, by the way is fed by the Zambezi River, the 4th largest river in Africa.
The entrance fee to the Victoria Falls is USD 30, and you can walk along a beautifully constructed section where you can admire the falls at 16 different stops and vantage points. And besides, you can see monkeys and mongooses in the small surrounding forest.
It's quite an amazing sight, and I think it was a very good decision to extend our Botswana adventure with this little getaway in Zimbabwe.
Walk to Zambia
At the very end of the park, we reach a canyon that is the natural border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and from here we can see the Zambian section of the waterfall.
A bridge was built above the canyon, this yellow bridge is the gateway between the two countries, and despite its small size, it even has a railway.
However, from Victoria Falls you can’t go to the bridge, You need to leave the park and get there from the main road. There is a regular border building. It is possible to walk across the bridge to Zambia, but for this you have to go through the border control, and there they give you a piece of paper with a note on it saying when you left Zimbabwe with how many people, and they only let you back to Zimbabwe if you return this paper at the return check.
There are many "disguised sellers" on the bridge, in front of the bridge, who start talking to you, and when you already sympathize with them, they suddenly pull out their small goods from their pockets. But if you firmly say that you are not interested in buying them, then they will understand.
In the middle of the bridge there is a sign that says Zambia, and on the way back it says Zimbabwe, which proves that you really just walk smoothly from one country to another. By the way, from the Zambian side of the bridge there is a beautiful view over a small corner of the Victoria Falls.
And by the way, you can also do bungee jumping and ziplining from the bridge.
It's a great mini-adventure, and it is quite a unique experience to walk across from Zimbabwe to Zambia.
Things to do around Victoria Falls:
The city of Victoria Falls is not very big, but since everything here is based on tourism, there are many paid options, but everything is completely at Western European prices.
Sunset cruise on the Zambezi river
What I definitely recommend is the sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. It lasts for a few hours, you can enjoy the landscape, and you can also see hippos and birds during the cruise.
The BOMA dinner is a buffet dinner with a traditional drum show.
You can try a lot of different dishes. You can even eat roasted worms, and if someone takes the courage, they will even be rewarded with a certificate.
I wasn't so impressed by the food, but the drum show was really good.
One of the largest Baobab trees in Zimbabwe
This tree is only a few minutes' drive from Victoria Falls. It's worth taking a detour on the way to the airport to see this Baobab tree. This tree is more than 1400 years old. It was quite incredible to stand there and think, with my 30+ years, how much this tree could tell if it could talk.
(I'll put a picture of another baobab tree here, because this one is not full of tourists)
That was our little adventure in Zimbabwe. I think we really got the most out of these two short days. It was a great experience.
With this, the 2nd part (Botswana - Zimbabwe) of our African roadtrip was concluded, so let’s move on to the 3rd big leg of our trip, to Tanzania.
If you enjoy reading my posts, then come and discover Tanzania with me.