Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kasane, Botswana

Had no problems at the Botswana border post, just had to fill in a form and then got stamped in for one month. Had to walk to the other side of the border complex and then Eddie joined us and flagged down a local who was coming out of a side road. The local spoke Setswana, one of the Batswana languages and couldn't understand why Eddie didn't understand it but Eddie spoke Shona so they had to communicate in English. We headed for the Thebe River Lodge while Eddie continued on his way to find tour groups to sell his tee shirts to.

The lodge camping ground, where we had planned to stay, was pretty exposed, without any shade and very dusty so we managed to negotiate a reasonable room rate in the lodge. We had a room with an ensuite and air conditioning but squeaky beds. The place filled up with middle aged people from Italy then Netherlands and Germany so our neighbours kept changing as safari trucks came in and out.
It was a 50 minute walk into the town centre to pick up some supplies and get money from an ATM machine.

Surrounding the lodge were areas set up with thatched roofed shelters, a braai area, electric light, power plug and a brick and concrete 'table'. These were used by the safari tour trucks and they would cram their dome tents into the area beside the shelter and begin preparing their meals. Not far from these were shelters was a restaurant/bar, and pool overlooking the Chobe River.

We found one of these cooking shelters unoccupied so set up our cooker and began to prepare food. When it got dark a 4x4 Landrover pulled up. Klaus from Germany and Constancia from Chile had booked the site and luckily they were happy enough to let us share it.

The 4x4 was well equipped with a tent that folded out on top along with a ladder to get up to it. They had a fridge that could also turn into a freezer and was well set up with everything they would need for their travels from South Africa to Botswana and return.

We joined a sunset boat cruise along the Chobe River to watch the animals come down to the river and this little building on the riverside was the ticket office for the National Park. The river was pretty busy with all kinds of boats taking tourists along the river. We saw dozens of elephants, crocs, hippos, monitor lizards, a couple of giraffe, several sea eagles, red lechwe (antelopes) which are only found in Zambia and here, and lots of birds.

We had a great time eating and chatting with Klaus and Constancia and when they decided to move to another lodge closer to the town we went too. Klaus invited us to join them on a drive through the park along the riverfront from Kasane to the Ngoma Bridge and we were thrilled to be able to do that as it can only be done by a 4x4.
Our first stop was at a foot and mouth disease control veterinary checkpoint. We had to take all our shoes and dip them in the disinfectant soaked mat and drive the vehicle through a dip of disinfectant. An officer checked the fridge for uncooked meat products and then we were on our way.

We saw large groups of zebra, elephants and buffalo and they would have been the largest groups we have seen so far. The park was pretty dry and sandy and we only saw a few other vehicles the whole time. Saw our first sable and pelicans.
Near the Ngoma Bridge we took a wrong path and ended up outside the park and had to re enter and explain why we were where we were. Constancia was rather worried as she thought we may have inadvertently entered Namibia for which she cannot get a visa on a Chilean passport so she was relieved to know we hadn't.

Someone had told them that the Chobe Safari lodge that we had moved to served a buffet with game meat so we headed there for our evening meal. It was a long walk from our camp but it was a pretty flash place with tables on different levels overlooking the river. We had several kinds of vegetarian pates and salads to start then prawns with fresh vegetables that were stir fried while you waited and covered with sauces of your choice. We all tried the impala casserole and the warthog pie, which was the best. Klaus is a great meat eater so he chose a steak that was cooked by the chef to his liking while John piled up his plate with roast pork. We had several helpings of cappuccino mousse, fruit salad, with vodka and pineapple sorbet and two other types of ice cream. After camping food for so long we were in food heaven.