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Monday, May 26, 2014

African Adventure 2014 - Chobe Safari Lodge Day 2

The alarm sounded early in the morning, indicating that it was time to get ready for the morning game drive. Today's game drive was in Chobe National Park. Our guide, KG, picked us up from the Chobe Safari Lodge and drove us into Chobe National Park. Unlike our time at Thornybush, Chobe National Park had several rules and regulations we had to follow, such as driving in a particular direction, along a particular route and no off-road driving. We immediately noticed the difference in ecosystems between the two places. Thornybush is mostly lying scrub brush and trees, whereas, Chobe National Park has marshlands by the river and woodlands on top of the ridge. These changes in ecosystems manifested in the types of animals commonly found. Impalas, hippos, and baboons were constant companions. Like at the lodge, vervet monkeys were ever present at the designated stopping location. The one animal we expected to see, due to how common it is, was the elephant. For whatever reason, despite having 20% of Africa's elephant population within Botswana, we did not find a single one. Strange.

Following our game drive, we grabbed a quick breakfast and then spoke with the activities coordinator about setting up a tour of a Namibian village. We were in luck. She quickly found a guide willing to take us.

Before we knew it, we were in a small boat heading to Botswana immigration to leave the country. We quickly left Botswana and checked in at Namibia immigration to enter Namibia. Fantastic!

After a short walk, we were in the village. The village was similar to what you expect in Africa. Mud dwellings with either tin or thatched roofs. Some even had reeds surrounding an open space, creating a courtyard. In the village, we were greeted by some kids who spoke in their native language to inform others that white people were here. The village, called Kafuvu, was home to a 3000 year old baobab tree. It was stunning! Not long after our arrival, we were greeted by the headman, or chief, and his wife and were invited into his courtyard to take some pictures. Our guide showed us the chief's garden along with his kitchen and the beginnings to another dwelling. The kitchen is unlike anything we are familiar with. It is basically a fire pit with a piece of tin on to form a roof and protect from rain. Kari was in awe of the banana tree.

As we wandered through the village, our guide described daily life and the culture of the people in the village. During this time, many of the women in the village gathered beneath the baobab tree to display their wares. The craftsmanship was remarkable, and we ended up buying a wood carved rhino. One of the things that surprised us is that despite not having electricity and living in a mud dwelling, many have television and satellite dishes. Additionally, everyone in the village is related to the chief in some way. Finally to get married, you have to marry outside of your village and present either a cow or the cash equivalent of a cow to the chief of the bride to ask for permission to wed. It was a very interesting place.

Once back in the boat, we quickly cleared both the Namibian and Botswana checkpoints and made it back to the Chobe Safari Lodge. We had just enough time to change and grab some food before we needed to get onto a different boat for our river cruise. The river cruise was on the Chobe River inside the Chobe National Park. The guide would stop the boat whenever we neared an animal or place of note. We saw elephant (finally), hippo, crocodile, kudu, impala (of course), puku, and various birds. As with many things on the water, it was very hot. We were grateful to be turning back near the end, as we were displaying the early symptoms of heat exhaustion. Kari did get some good practice with the camera, taking many beautiful shots.

Following the river cruise, we went back to the room to cool off a bit before dinner. We both had stir fry, fairly boring. Nothing too special, but it was somewhat safe food, considering our stomach's are a little sensitive.

To escape, the bugs, we retreated to the room to enjoy some quality time before bed. Kari tried the Amarula that housekeeping left for us to enjoy. She says that it was only slightly reminiscent of the marula fruit we tried on our walking safari.

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