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A Cruise down the Chobe River


DSC_8719Our first activity after checking in at the Hotel Chobe Marina at Kasane was book ourselves for a river cruise down the Chobe River.  We had booked a lovely cottage at the Chobe Marina with three separate bed rooms overlooking the Chobe River.  The hotel was larger than I expected and very upscale , especially compared to the tents that we were occupying at Okavango.  The first thing we did after checking in was to go to the Activities office and choose between safaris and boat cruises as our activities for the next two days.  Our very first activity was to begin immediately: we were going for a three hour cruise down the Chobe River.

DSC_8365Our boat was more like a floating platform with a roof but we were fortunately the only passengers on it.   On one side of the river was Botswana and on the other side, Namibia, with just a few feet of water separating the two countries.  We floated down the river till it  split into two channels &  followed the channel that entered the Chobe National Park.  Like the rest of Botswana, the place was teaming with wildlife.  This was an incredibly cool way to go on a safari. Unlike the land safaris where we had to go in search of animals, here we simply floated down the river and waited for the animals to come to us. And they did come – in hordes.  Since Chobe River is the main source of water for the animals in the National Park, sooner or later most of them find their way towards the river.

Elephant-11Herds of elephants, buffaloes and impalas all came down to drink water.  The elephants were fun to watch because each herd had members of various age groups – from about a week old baby to the grand matriarch. There was a hippo snoozing nearby when this particular herd came down to drink water.


On of the mischievous  younger elephants decided that it would be a good idea to charge at the sleeping hippo.    The hippo was peacefully sleeping near the bank , when the baby elephants stomped towards him.  Quick as flash, the hippo stood up and simply glared at the elephant.


The hippo didn’t do a thing—merely stood its ground as though irritated by the idiocy of the elephant, till an older member of the family came by and escorted  the youngster away.


That didn’t really faze the brat, it simply turned around and started charging at the birds near the river shore till they flew away.   In fact it seemed like so much fun that even the staid grown-ups joined him in chasing the birds away.

DSC_9027There was also a week-old baby elephant who did not move from between the four legs of its mamma.  It stayed there even when the mother elephant entered the water — safe and secure amongst its mother and grandmother.  From that safe location, it mimicked its mom’s actions, trying to squirt water from its trunk and sliding down in the mud.  The mom , aunt & grandmother elephants were very protective of the baby making sure it was protected on all sides.

DSC_8479Our guide would get the boat as close to the animals as possible. Since we were the only people in our boat, it was easy to request the guide to stop a little longer at some spots or to angle the boat in a particular way.  Drinks and snacks were laid out on the boat, so we could munch away and watch the animals and birds around us.

DSC_8425Bird life was very prominent in our river cruise : we saw the African snake bird , so named because of its snake like neck ,  two varieties of kingfishers, a majestic fish eagle, and some varieties of storks and cranes.  Crocodiles and Monitor lizards were sunning themselves near the banks of the river.  The water monitor lizard looked like a miniature crocodile as it crawled  on the  river bank, its long forked tounge flicking in and out, probing  between the stones and rocks.  Crocodiles ranged from tiny lizard sized to huge monsters that were really scary.

DSC_8582However the scariest moment of the trip was when we found our boat surrounded by about 10-12 hippos. These hippos stay submerged in the water with only the tip of their heads floating above the water surface.   Now I have mentioned before that hippos have a nasty habit of bumping boats so we were pretty nervous to see the hippos open their wide mouth. Occasionally one of them would bellow and then there would be a chorus of annoyed sounding responses from the others.  They spend most of the days in the water, coming out only at night whenDSC_8578 it is cooler to eat.  Hippos are actually the number one cause of death by wild animals in Botswana – even though these huge creatures are herbivores they are incredibly territorial and will attack if you encroach on its area. And when two of the hippos started a mock fight and opened its wide mouth to snap at each other, I was glad to turn around and get back towards the hotel.

DSC_9346The cruise lasted about 3 hours.  It was sunset by the time we reached the hotel – and we had the chance to see the most spectacular sunset that we saw in Africa.  We reached the hotel to find that they have a local group come in and perform some “African folk dances” for us.  DSC_9523The song to which they were dancing seemed a repetition of the same four lines, however the beat and rhythm kept varying and this was all accompanied by the stomping and thumping  and leaping as the dancers kept in step with the music.

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  1. Anonymous says

    Nicely written!

Copyright Deepa