The day began well before sunrise, far too early for the spoilt. Out first game drive into Chobe National Park departed at 6am. It was chilly and Vivek and I huddled together on our drive to the main Park gate, as we heard anecdotes from two other Backpackers, also hopping from country to country in the region. Glad that we weren’t the only crazy ones. As we took scarves and hats out to battle the cold wind, we came across a small herd of elephants…why did the elephant cross the road? :p …we don’t actually know since we didn’t wait around to find out.
Once we entered the game park, the road was bumpy and dusty. We stopped a few times to check tracks and droppings. More elephants were close by!
The trees cleared and we had a beautiful view of a troop of baboons making their way across the river shore. It’s sometimes difficult to see the beauty in baboons, human or otherwise, but this was something else.
The morning went on, it got warmer and we were tipped off, by fellow safari vehicle drivers, that a Leopard was nearby with her cubs. Our guide revved his engine and we were told to hold on as we turned onto a smaller dirt road to go find our cat friend. We held on tight as our bodies flopped around on these canvas cushions. It reminded me of a weight loss belt machine my grandmother had back in the day, where you felt parts of your body shake that you didn’t know existed. Our guide called this experience the “African Massage”. We zipped by a large beautiful herd of Impala, better known as the McDonald’s of Africa since they have three stripes on their butts making an ‘M’, are ubiquitous, and are the easiest kill for lions and other cats. I thought of how analogous this was to life where we run towards a goal we aren’t sure exists, and miss out on all the other good things that we bump into along the way. We continued on for a while and though we saw their tracks, we just missed the Leopard and her babies. As expected the herd of Impala had scattered and wasn’t as magnificent anymore.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, to the passive dismay of one of our fellow Backpackers. Both Vivek and I were hopeful that the evening safari would hold more in store.
It was true to my expectations. Though we still didn’t see lions or leopards, the evening safari brought us closer to many animals and ended with a beautiful sunset. We were surrounded by a herd of Buffalo, saw elephants swimming in the river, a tower of giraffe and elephants that were a few metres away from the vehicle. All in all, a really good visit.