I met my parents at the airport in Livingstone, Zambia. They came to visit and we spent the next 10 days road tripping through Botswana; spending most of our time in Savuti - in the center of Chobe National Park, and the Okavango Delta.
|Elephants cross infront of the |
They got their fair share of African border crossing experiences on their first day: waking up early in South Africa, flying to Zambia where we viewed Victoria Falls, crossing into Zimbabwe to view Victoria Falls from the other side and then driving to Botswana for dinner. All border crossings (with the exception of South Africa) required some sort of unofficial payment for which there was no receipt. This was in addition to the "official" fees: visas, road tolls, bridge tolls, carbon emission tax, vehicle import fee, and mandatory purchase of "approved" third-party insurance.
|A one-eyed hyena approaches our dinner |
table after drinking from the swimming pool
Once in Botswana we headed straight for Savuti in the heart of Chobe National Park - home to the highest concentration of elephants in Africa with over 120,000 Kalahari Elephants. In addition to hyenas, zebras, leopards, warthogs, wildebeests, kudu and impala, we saw hundreds of elephants from lone bulls off on their own to large breading herds with baby elephants drinking and cooling themselves off at watering holes.
The length of the park is roughly 450km / 280mi but took about
12 hours to drive over the course of a couple days. The slow pace was a result of deep dry sand, flooded rivers,
and occasionally heavily corrugated dirt paths.
The length of the park is roughly 450km / 280mi but took about 12 hours to drive over the course of a couple days. The slow pace was a result of deep dry sand, flooded rivers, and occasionally heavily corrugated dirt paths.
|A bull elephant in musth|
Driving on the main dirt roads we passed a few gates where we had to stop and fill out a logbook with our name, date, vehicle type, registration number and the direction we were heading. Upon reaching the final gate we were told that the Khwai River had flooded and that the main dirt road ahead was not passable - even with a 4x4. The options were to take a couple hour detour into Moremi National Park or a shorter detour over a series of less traveled dirt roads to where there was a bridge to cross the river. The ranger said that he hadn't heard of anyone using the bridge in the past few days and that we should make sure to check the bridge before driving over it. As we followed the ranger's hand drawn map to the bridge it seemed odd to have to "check the bridge" before using it, but that made sense once we arrived at the bridge. It was slightly submerged under the river and constructed of logs tied together by rope and wire. That was okay, however there was about a 10 foot section on the right side of the bridge where the logs were broken, leaving a hole about 5 feet deep.
|Making it over the "bridge" with |
a little speed
After about 45 minutes of chopping trees, moving logs, breaking the axe, falling in the water, loosing the shovel and my flipflops in the river, we tied the logs together with extra wire left on the river bank and put wading plugs in the engine and gearbox just incase the truck didn't make it across. I took my laptop and camera gear out, my dad backed the vehicle up to get a little speed and successfully made it over the makeshift bridge without slipping off the logs.