It was 5am on September 19 2011 when I woke up to visit Chobe National Park. I had no idea that it would become the day that Africa stole my heart.
Snuggled up in layers and my sleeping bag, I stepped on to the safari truck and headed into Chobe National Park, one of the most beautiful places the world can offer.
Within moments of our game drive we were greeted with families of giraffes and more elephants than we could count; we were completely surrounded by wild animals and couldn’t decide whether to take photos or just sit and watch; it was an amazing sight.
We were driving through the dry land when suddenly the dirt hills were gone and the park opened up into this beautiful wet land…Chobe National Park certainly had the ‘wow factor’.
Chobe National Park, however, isn’t just famous for it’s land animals but it’s amazing variety of birdlife and we certainly saw our share with mighty Fish Eagles and Vultures (ironically sitting in a dead-looking tree).
But like all game drives, we were on the hunt for cats and we certainly saw promising signs that we were going to find some…
The game drive took us high up and allowed us some incredible views of Chobe National Park as it showed just how big it really was.
By the time we’d finished our game drive, it was already lunch so we headed back to camp for a couple of hours of food, relaxing and preparing for our second trip to Chobe National Park later that day for the sunset cruise.
I didn’t know it then but, although Chobe National Park stirred some amazing feelings within me in the morning, it was the afternoon cruising down the Chobe River which really took my breath away.
You take a slow, flat boat and sit on plastic garden furniture as you share the cruise either your group and others. You bring your own cooler boxes filled with drinks (soft or alcoholic) and any snacks and relax for a couple of hours as you’re surrounded by beauty. Most of my group seemed more interested in drinking their beers and having a giggle but not me...I was the one sat in my plastic, broken chair with my legs over the edge of the boat attempting to take in the incredible beauty that I was seeing right in front of me.
When I saw these elephants, I cried. I couldn’t contain my feelings. I was sat talking to one of the girls from my trip about how speechless these animals were making me feel and before I knew it, silent tears rolled down my cheeks. I wasn’t seeing these hundreds of elephants on TV or reading about them in a book; I wasn’t even seeing them in Disney’s Animal Kingdom…I was seeing them with my very own eyes in their natural environment. It was at that precise moment that I realised that I was really in Africa. I wasn’t on a truck that could have been anywhere or sleeping under a huge night sky, I was in AFRICA, ON SAFARI; speechless.
What you might not be aware of is that Chobe National Park sits on the border of Botswana and Namibia and the countries argued over many years about Sedudu island in the middle of the wetland, despite it being underwater for four months of the year. They didn’t go to war though, they took it to the International Court of Justice and in 1999, Sedudu Island was awarded to Botswana, so there’s a random flag in the middle of the wetland…something different when you’re playing ‘I spy with my little eye’
When it was finally time to leave Chobe National Park and the sun began to set, I took some incredible photos but most of all, I took with me some incredible memories and stood in silence as I realised what an honour it had been to see such beauty.
As the sun finally fell and we left Chobe National Park, I shed one final tear in amazement that I had spent the last 2.5 hours in the company of natural beauty; my heart had been stolen…