Vic Falls being our last stop in Zimbabwe, we headed off in the direction of our next stop, Chobe National Park in Botswana, close to the Angolan border. As usual, it was with mixed feelings that we acquiesced to returning to the truck, especially now that space for stretching out was in shorter supply, so when we pulled over for a late morning stop at Wimpy (which I haven’t eaten at since I was a small child and it was a hamburger chain in the UK) we were rallied by the prospect of fast food and free wifi (our group descends on free wifi like vultures on a carcass.)
However, this was not going to be a fast experience, and one member of my table was asked to show his receipt for a cheeseburger and coke a total of five times before he was served his food. It turned out to be quite entertaining watching the Wimpy staff come unglued at the prospect of serving so many of us in a short space of time. Finally with our steaming cups of coffee, iPads and iPhones out in abundance, it was like pulling candy from a baby when after only 20 minutes we were rallied, reluctantly, back to Twinga.
Arriving at the lodge/campsite in Chobe National Park, I set about getting my tent and stuff sorted in time for our included boating excursion to view wildlife on the Chobe River. It was very hot, and I was quite upset when I learned with only five minutes left before our pick-up, that there had been a swimming pool I could have had a dip in. Nevertheless, looking at the sky, I grabbed warm layers despite the baking heat, and headed to the truck that would take us to the boat.
Three Slovenian doctors were also on our transport and I quickly befriended one of them, Mikha, once we’d settled into chairs on the roof of the boat. I listened with keen interest as he spoke to me of his recently ended three-month volunteer experience as a physician at a trauma hospital in Zambia. Working with limited supplies and with an predominantly HIV-Positive patient pool, he said it had been an incredibly intense learning experience that left him very much in awe of the African doctors and their coping skills, as well as a profound realization for how cushy he’ll have it in comparison as a General Practitioner back in Europe. He said he had also grown very fond of the relaxed method of time keeping Africans employ, namely if a meeting was called to start at 8am, it might not actually begin until 930 when everyone felt like showing up.
The time spent viewing game on the river was very pleasant indeed, if blisteringly hot. The upper deck was occupied mainly by an Australian group who’d taken it upon themselves to bring an entire cooler of cold beer along. It absolutely killed me not being able to have one myself – though I did offer payment for one and was unfortunately, turned down.
A safari by boat is a much more relaxing experience than in a vehicle. The elephants were happily cavorting in the water, the hippos waddled in the mud, and the crocs stayed cool by keeping their mouths gaping open. Chobe is quite green and was altogether a very pleasant place to call home, if you were an animal (in my opinion, vastly superior surroundings to the harsh arid Serengeti).
We were further rewarded with an incredible sunset as we turned the boat around at the half way point. And then the darkening skies were further enhanced by a rush of storm clouds that began to rumble with thunder. The clouds almost looked like a tornado funnel as the wind picked up and lightning flashed across the sky. It was quite ominous and the temperature plummeted making me super grateful for having brought my warmer layers.
And then the rain fell. And fell.
By the time we ran back to the tents on the return journey, the campsite had turned into a sandy swamp. Everyone was running around desperately saving gear from getting wet, and securing rain flies on their tents. Then we all headed to the bar as the only dry refuge in the camp, where we greeted by a rare treat – beer on tap!
The following day was a super early start and it was quite miserable rolling up the wet tents in the soggy ground and getting away by 6am. We had another long drive today, this time to the town of Maun which would be our setting off point for a 3 day/2night trip to the Okavango Delta.