Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. Standing Bear
In previous blogs we have talked about our wonderful holidays in Botswana, in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Central Kalahari, as well as up in the Savuti area. In all these places the wildlife has been abundant and we’ve had the privilege of viewing it in relatively remote and isolated conditions with few other people around us at the time.
The Chobe River area is also well worth a visit as it probably has the greatest variety of wildlife in Botswana – the only downside being that it is easily accessible so one has to share this piece of paradise with lots of other tourists. Nevertheless, it remains one of our favourite spots and we’ll venture back there at every opportunity.
There are some great camping spots along the Chobe and our choice of a site at the Chobe Safari Lodge in Kasane was ideal. Nestled privately amongst the trees, with the water lapping a couple of meters away (and the protection of a fence to keep intruding crocs and hippos at bay), our campsite was well positioned to give us excellent views of the animals coming down to the river to drink.
The highlight of any visit though has to be a sundown boat cruise on the Chobe as the birdlife on the banks and islands is superb.
If you’re not into bird spotting, you will be just as enthralled at the vast numbers of animals that congregate on the riverfront towards the end of the day – elephants, buffalo, kudu – the list is endless. Top all this off with an ice cold beer and an amazing sunset and you’ll wonder why you don’t spend every holiday here.
We also enjoyed our stay at the Kubu Lodge campsite which gave us the chance to do a self-drive into the Chobe National Park. The Lodge offers game drives into the Park, but we preferred going on our own as it enabled us to stop and photograph at our leisure. Kubu (Kubu means hippo) Lodge has enormous grounds to walk around in and we had little buck peeping at us through the trees. We were warned to be on the lookout for a stray buffalo that had come ashore from the river – fortunately we didn’t encounter it while we were out birding.
If you’re planning a visit, don’t limit your time in the Chobe area as there is so much to see and do. If birds and animals don’t interest you, then try your hand at tiger fishing – it’s guaranteed to give you a thrill when you land one of these amazing fish. All in all a very special part of Botswana and a photographer’s delight.
If you’ve browsed our website you will know that Rob loves cycling and has covered many kilometers on his bike in Southern Africa, Australia and Nepal. There are times when his hobby is a bit of a strain for me – like when he cycles for hours on his static trainer in the house or when I have to massage his weary muscles with Arnica Oil after a long ride – but there are many benefits for me as well.
As the sole member of his back up team I get to spend a lot of time waiting at the side of the road for him. I usually drive about fifteen to twenty kilometers ahead and wait for him to catch up. After checking that all is well, or perhaps sharing a cool drink or a cup of coffee, I then proceed to the next waiting point.
The back roads of Namibia are an absolute treat for this, especially as I like to photograph the scenery and meditate in the silence of the deserted countryside. And deserted it is; we may not see another car for hours! But in the silence I never know what nature is going to offer me in the way of birds, animals and beautiful vistas.
There’s something about being out there, totally alone in the wild, that lifts the spirits and restores the soul. I can so understand why cyclists like to take to the quiet of country roads.
The Namibian country roads that I’m referring to are not in game reserves, they are ordinary public roads flanked by extensive farms that are home to animals of every description. Unfortunately one also encounters evidence of the harsher side of life when one comes across animals that have been hit by speeding cars.
The countryside has a harsh beauty all of its own. It’s here that I take deep breaths and fill my lungs with fresh air.
The birdlife is quite amazing and whenever I choose a place to stop and wait for Rob, the decision is usually influenced by a bird I’ve seen perched in a tree or an animal nearby.
The quiet early mornings on the roads less travelled, moving at the speed of a casual cyclist enjoying the warmth of the sun on his back, gives one the time and opportunity to reflect on subjects profound or subjects superficial. And that in itself is a rare commodity.