Sunset cruise on the Chobe River…A huge hit with animals and people…

Our favorite mom and baby elephant photo was taken while cruising on the Chobe River.

When a driver picked us up yesterday to take us to a resort down the road, we were a little surprised we’d be boarding a boat on the Chobe River from Chobe Marina Lodge, not Chobe Safari Lodge, where we were staying. The three-minute drive down the road and the 30-minute wait to board the boat were no big deal.

Male Cape buffalos heading to the water from an island in the Chobe River.

We were seated at a table for four on the pontoon-style boat in no time, ready to embark and begin the sunset cruise lasting three hours. As soon as we sat down, we were seated across the table with a lovely couple, younger than our adult children from Milan, Italy. Andrea and Jenny spoke good English, and we chatted endlessly, later meeting up for dinner at the restaurant up the hill from our resort.

Two fishermen on a small boat on the river.

Unfortunately, the photo I took of the two of them ended up being obstructed by a person walking by, and I could not post it, much to my disappointment. I should have checked the camera, but I caught up in the lively conversation with this adorable and intelligent Italian couple and failed to see if the photo came out. It was an oddity that this happened.

Waterbucks and a few Egyptian geese were foraging on the island.

We enjoyed the time spent on the boat with them and later for dinner up the hill. While on the boat, we met another couple, who were friends, and the man, Dwight, lives in the suburbs in Minnesota, leaving us with endless stories to share, especially with Tom, a native of Minnesota. Christie was from Denver. It was also fun talking to Americans whom we seldom meet in this part of the world.

Seeing the elephants on the island in the Chobe River was such a joy.

The three hours passed quickly, and before we knew it, we returned to our resort to meet up with Andrea and Jenny later. We shared a delightful day and evening while taking many beautiful photos, some of which we’re sharing here today. Many more will follow in days to come. We haven’t put a dent in the pictures worthy of posting but have plenty of time to do so in the days and weeks to follow.

Two young male elephants were practicing sparing.

This morning, we had a nice breakfast in the resort’s restaurant buffet. We never had dinner at the buffet since there were few foods suitable for my way of eating. In our last post for this trip, we’ll share food photos and final expenses for our one week away from Marloth Park.

A blue heron…

As always, we’re a little tentative about getting another 90-day visa stamp when we return to South Africa in two days and go through immigration. If we are turned down, we’ll have to devise a plan which, of course, if that happens, we’ll share here. Each time we get another 90 days, we sigh with relief. The law is vague in this regard…are we required to return to our home country each time? The answer isn’t clear. We’ll see how it goes one more time.

An ibis…

In a little over an hour, our trusty Chris from Chris Tours will arrive at this resort, who will drive us back to the border between Botswana and Zambia, and then take us to the Protea Hotel by Marriott we’ve stayed many times in the past. It’s a pleasant hotel, with good breakfast included,  lovely rooms with comfy beds, and free WiFi.

A crocodile lounged on the grass on an island in the Chobe River.

We will check into our ground floor room, unpack a little, and within a few hours, be heading out to the Zambezi River for another sunset cruise, this time on the Lion King boat with live entertainment. This will be our second time on this boat. We enjoyed the scenery, the included drinks and snacks, and the African music last time and looked forward to this repeated event.

Elephants are excellent swimmers, using their trunks as a snorkel. Cool, eh?

When the boat ride has ended, Chris or his staff will pick up up to take us to the Royal Livingstone Hotel, where we will dine tonight and again tomorrow night, overlooking the Zambezi River. We’ve embarked on quite a few adventures this time, more than in the past, and have had nothing but great experiences.

We couldn’t take our eyes off the swimming elephants.

Saturday afternoon, after a late checkout, Chris will transport us to the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula Livingstone Airport for our short flight (less than two hours) back to Nelspruit. At that point, we’ll go through immigration and see how it rolls out again. After getting a great rate at the US $15, ZAR 253 a day, we’ll collect the rental car at Budget and make the hour-plus drive back to Marloth Park.

The water was shallow in this spot, and he could stand up and walk the rest of the way.

By 5:30 pm, 1730 hrs., we should be back at our holiday home in Marloth Park to decide if we’ll dine in on frozen leftovers or head to Jabula for dinner. We’ll play that by ear, providing all goes well with our return.

Playful elephants.

Yesterday, I attempted to process the ZAR 196, US $11.64 customs fees due on our UPS package from the US. For some odd reason, UPS’s system wouldn’t accept an international credit card, like all of ours. Only South African credit cards can be used. Louise was so kind to help, using her card, which we’ll reimburse when we see her next. All went through Ok, and we should receive the package sometime next week.

Sunset on the Chobe River.

We are packed and ready to leave in about 40 minutes, so I’d better wrap this up and get it uploaded so I won’t have to rush later this afternoon when we have plans.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 25, 2021:

This is my new toy, a JBL Bluetooth speaker that works with voice activation from our phones or laptops. The sound is fantastic! We use this every day! For more details, please click here.

Elephant Day in Chobe National Park, Botswana….

Families enjoy time on the bank of the Chobe River.

“African elephants are the largest land animals, adult males weighing between 1,800 and 6,300 kg (2 and 7 tons/ 4,000 and 14,000 lb.). Females are smaller, weighing between 2,700 and 3,600 kg (3 and 4 tons/ 6,000 and 8,000 lb.).”We never tire of seeing elephants in the wild, which is entirely different than seeing them in captivity in a zoo or, as we experienced in India, used for religious and income-producing purposes. That was heartbreaking to witness. But, here in Africa, we’ve only visited national parks where they are meant to roam…at will, in the wild. And what a joy it is to see!

We realize we’ve written many stories about elephants and elephant facts we’ve gleaned from other websites. For those who may have missed those past posts, we can’t resist sharing more of those today as we’ve posted several photos we took while on safari in Chobe National Park on Tuesday. It was a fine day with many sightings. But no game drive would be complete without elephant sightings which we’re sharing here today.

An Egyptian goose has joined the family.

You may be bored with our endless elephant sightings or may find them fascinating. For those that don’t care to read more, we will move on to other wildlife in tomorrow’s post with some fun and quirky photos. This afternoon at 3:00 pm, 1500 hours, we will embark on a boat cruise ending after sunset from the docks here at our resort, Chobe Safari Lodge, in Kasane, Botswana.

Tomorrow at 11:30, Chris from Chris Tours, our excellent, reliable, and friendly tour organizer and transport handler, whose site may be found here. We highly recommend their services if you plan to come to Zambia, Zimbabwe, or Botswana. Recently, our readers/friends Marylin and Gary, who are now in Marloth Park, whom we hope to see one more time before they leave the first week in September, also used Chris’s services when they visited Zambia and Botswana. They, too, had an excellent experience with Chris and his associates. Contact Chris at his site here.

This tiny elephant may be only a few months old and is learning to use her trunk by following the guidance of the other, more senior family members.

On another note. Enjoy these new elephant facts from this site located here:

“13 Fascinating Facts About Elephants

1. Elephants Never Forget

The memory of elephants is legendary, and for good reason. Of all land mammals, elephants possess the largest brains.2 They have the ability to recall distant watering holes, other elephants, and humans they have encountered, even after the passage of many years. Elephants transmit their wealth of knowledge from generation to generation through the matriarchs, and this sharing of information has been beneficial to the creatures’ survival. They are also able to recall the path to sources of food and water across great distances, and how to reach alternative areas should the need arise. Even more impressive, they adjust their schedule to arrive just in time for the fruit they are seeking to be ripe.

Cattle egrets are often found near elephants.

2. They Can Distinguish Languages

Elephants exhibit a deep understanding of human communication. Researchers at Amboseli National Park in Kenya played back the voices of speakers from two different groups—one that preys on the elephants, and another that does not. When the elephants heard the voices of the group they feared, they were more likely to act defensively by grouping tightly together and smelling the air to investigate. What’s more, the researchers found the elephants also responded with less intensity to female and younger male voices, becoming most agitated at the voices of adult males. Elephant language skills go beyond understanding. One Asian elephant learned to mimic words in Korean. Researchers theorize that because his primary social contact while growing up was with humans, he learned to mimic words as a form of social bonding.

3. They Can Hear Through Their Feet

Elephants have a great sense of hearing and the ability to send vocalizations over long distances. They make a variety of sounds, including snorts, roars, cries, and barks. But they also specialize in low frequency rumbles and are able to pick up sounds in an unusual way. Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell, a biologist at Stanford University, found that the lower frequency vocalizations and foot stomping of elephants resonate at a frequency other elephants can detect through the ground. Enlarged ear bones and sensitive nerve endings in their feet and trunks allow elephants to pick up these infrasonic messages. The ability to detect such seismic vibrations also helps elephants survive. When an agitated elephant stomps, they’re not just warning those in the immediate area, they may also be warning other elephants miles away. And when an elephant rumbles a call, it could be intended for family members far out of sight.

Moms and babies.

4. Elephants Are Excellent Swimmers

It may not come as a shock that elephants enjoy playing in the water. They are famous for splashing and showering themselves and others with sprays from their trunks. But it might be a surprise to learn that these huge animals are also quite good at swimming. Elephants have enough buoyancy to stay at the surface and use their powerful legs to paddle. They also use their trunk as a snorkel when crossing deep water so they are able to breathe normally even when submerged. Swimming is a necessary skill for elephants as they cross rivers and lakes when searching for food.

5. They Support Those in Need

Elephants are highly social and intelligent creatures, and they demonstrate behaviors we humans recognize as compassion, kindness, and altruism. In a study of elephant behavior, researchers found that when an elephant became distressed, other nearby elephants responded with calls and touches intended to console the individual.7 In addition to humans, this behavior was previously only witnessed in apes, canids, and corvids. Elephants also demonstrate empathetic behavior and “targeted helping” where they coordinate with each other to help a sick or injured individual.

Two young ones, perhaps a few months apart. On average, newborn calves stand about 1 m (3 ft.) high and weigh 120 kg (264 lb.) at birth. Newborn male African elephants may weigh up to 165 kg (364 lbs.).

6. They Can Suffer From PTSD

We know that elephants are sensitive souls, with strong bonds to their family members, a need for comfort, and a long memory. So it should come as no surprise that elephants who experience tragedy, like witnessing a family member being killed by poachers, have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Calves orphaned by poachers will show PTSD-like symptoms even decades later. Elephants released from abusive situations show symptoms of PTSD long after they’ve found safety in a sanctuary. These traumatic experiences also negatively impact learning.8 When selective individuals are killed in a cull or by poachers, young elephants lose vital social information that would have been passed down by adults.

This larger female may be the matriarch who leads the herd.

7. Elephants Need Their Elders

All of the information necessary to elephants’ survival is passed down by their elders. It’s crucial for young elephants to spend time with older family members, particularly the matriarchs, so they can learn all that they’ll need to know as adults. The matriarch of the herd carries the knowledge of the elders and shares essential information with the young including how to respond to a variety of dangers and where to find food and water. While African elephants live in a matriarchal society, research has shown that Asian elephants are less hierarchical than their African counterparts and show little dominance based on age or gender.9 This difference in social organization could be attributed to habitat. In Africa, conditions are more harsh, so the elders’ wisdom is more valuable; in parts of Asia where predators are few and resources are plentiful, there’s not as much need for strong leadership

8. They Can’t Live Without Their Trunks

Filled with over 40,000 muscles, an elephant’s trunk is powerful and extremely sensitive. Elephants use their prehensile trunks to smell, eat, breathe underwater, make sounds, clean themselves, and defend themselves. Elephants have “fingers” at the tips of their trunks—African elephants have two and Asian elephants have one—that allow them to pick up tiny objects. Extremely dexterous, elephants can form a joint with their trunk to pile up small materials like grains. An elephant will reach out its trunk and use its sense of smell to determine which foods to eat. In a 2019 study, Asian elephants were able to determine which of two sealed buckets contained more food based on smell alone.11 Another study found that African elephants could differentiate between a variety of plants and choose their favorite, guided only by scent. Elephants also use their trunks to hug, caress, and comfort other elephants—and baby elephants suck their trunks like human babies suck their thumbs. Apparently this helps them to learn how to use their trunks more effectively. With over 50,000 muscles in the trunk, this helps a young elephant figure out “how to control and manipulate the muscles in the trunk so that it can fine-tune its use.”

This photo showing the safari vehicle illustrates how close we were to the majestic beasts.

9. They Are Related to the Rock Hyrax

Based on sheer size alone, it’s surprising to discover that the elephant’s closest living relative is the rock hyrax, a small, furry herbivore native to Africa and the Middle East that looks similar to a rodent. Other animals closely related to elephants include manatees and dugongs (a marine mammal that looks like a manatee). Despite its appearance, the hyrax still has a few physical traits in common with elephants. These include tusks that grow from their incisor teeth (versus most mammals, which develop tusks from their canine teeth), flattened nails on the tips of their digits, and several similarities among their reproductive organs. The manatee, the rock hyrax, and the elephant share a common ancestor, Tethytheria, which died out more than 50 million years ago. That’s been long enough for the animals to travel down very different evolutionary paths. Though they look and behave differently, they remain closely related.

10. Elephants Honor Their Dead

The abundant sensitivity of elephants is well documented, but their sentient nature is particularly notable in the interest they express toward the dead. Even among unrelated animals, elephants show interest, examining, touching, and smelling the deceased animal. Researchers have observed elephants making repeated visits, attempting to assist expired animals, and calling out for help. Long after an animal has died, elephants will return and touch the remaining bones with their feet and trunks.14 The Washington Post described a young 10-year-old elephant visiting her mother’s corpse in Kenya and leaving with “the temporal glands on each side of her head… streaming liquid: a reaction linked to stress, fear and aggression.” A form of tears, perhaps?

One elephant stood apart from the herd. It may be a male who is soon to leave the herd. Adult male elephants are solitary in nature but may associate with other bulls (adult males) in small, unstable groups. Males will leave the family unit (natal unit) between 12 and 15 years of age.

11. They Use Dirt as Sunscreen

There’s a good reason that elephants like to play in the dirt. Although their hide looks tough, elephants have sensitive skin that can get sunburned. To counteract the damaging rays of the sun, elephants throw sand on themselves. Adult elephants will also douse youngsters with dust. When coming out of a bath in a river, elephants will often throw mud or clay on themselves as a layer of protection.15

The younger elephant on the right is digging in the dirt on the bank of the river in an attempt to get to the mud. Mud baths are enjoyed by elephants, rhinos, warthogs, and hippos.

12. They Have Math Skills

Asian elephants may just be one of the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom when it comes to math. Researchers in Japan attempted to train Asian elephants to use a computer touch screen panel. One of the three elephants, when presented with different quantities, was able to choose the panel that displayed more fruit. It should be noted that only Asian elephants have been shown to possess this ability. Researchers posit that the split of African and Asian elephant species 7.6 million years ago may have resulted in differing cognitive abilities. Some research shows that the average EQ is 2.14 for Asian elephants, and 1.67 for African.

13. Elephants Are at Risk

All elephants are at risk. The Asian elephant is endangered and the African elephant is vulnerable.1718 The primary threats to elephants are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation. Elephants also face human threats. As farmers encroach on elephant habitats to plant crops, conflicts between the animals and humans have led to the retaliatory killing of elephants. Asian elephants in particular, which inhabit one of the planet’s most densely populated areas, are unable to coexist with the expanding human population. There are some innovative efforts to deter elephants away from human settlements and farms, reducing friction between the two species. One example is Project Orange Elephant in Sri Lanka, which incentivizes farmers to plant orange trees around their homes and garden plots; elephants dislike citrus, and the farmers gain an additional crop to sale for profit. In spite of the 1989 international trade ban on ivory sales, the illegal and legal hunting and poaching of elephants for their tusks, hide, meat, and fur have been a large contributor to the decline of elephants, especially in Africa. Asian elephants are also poached, and since only males have tusks, this also leads to a shortage of males in the breeding population and a lack of genetic diversity.

The youngster was determined to make a big mud hole.

Save the Elephants

Thanks to the publishers of this good article and its 13 points. We appreciate these interesting facts to share with our readers along with today’s photos.

Hopefully, today on our Chobe River cruise we’ll have an opportunity to see more stunning wildlife along the banks of the river and in the water. We will be back with more tomorrow, our final day at Chobe Safari Lodge. At 11:30 am, Christ will pick us up, and we’ll head back through the border into Zambia, where we’ll spend the next two nights staying at the Marriott Protea Hotel, which we’ve visited several times.

Both nights, we’ll be going to the Royal Livingstone Hotel’s much-sought-after restaurant, The Old Drift. We would have liked to stay at that hotel, but the room cost was about 60% higher than the Marriott. After all, we’ll have spent on this trip, staying at a more expensive hotel wasn’t necessary for either of us. We’ll head back to South Africa on Saturday.

We still have one more boat cruise tomorrow night, which will be on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River on the famous Lion King with live African music. That will be another fun outing.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more photos.

Have a great day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, August 24, 2021:

The Imposter was trying to get comfortable to take a nap with his tusks in the way. For more photos, please click here.

Lion Day in Chobe National Park…More activities on the horizon…

Adult females and cubs are resting in the shade.

In a perfect world, when we spot lions or any other species, they’d all face us for the best photo ops. Unfortunately, the wildlife, such as these lions shown today, were facing away from us, limiting the quality of the photos.

From a distance, Tom got this forward-facing shot of a female lion keeping an eye out for the pride while they rest.

However, as seldom as we see lions, we were thrilled to get these photos and won’t complain. Also, another factor in getting great shots is who is driving the safari vehicle. When on a game drive with a guide and other tour participants, we have no control over how long we’d wait for better shots or the angles from which we can take the pictures. The other people are often in the way, and the driver/guide wants to move along.

Another of Tom’s photos was taken with his phone,

When it’s just the two of us driving in Kruger National Park, generally, we can wait to gain a better vantage point. But, even then, other vehicles edge in attempting to see what we’re seeing. Then, simple courtesy becomes a priority, and we often have to move along before getting the shots we would have liked.

Could this be a young male whose mane has yet to be fully grown?

Sometimes, circumstances are perfect, and we get shots we love, like the one we posted yesterday as our main photo, found in this link here in case you missed it, similar to another image we’re posting here today as shown below:

This adorable cub caught my eye when I struggled to get good photos of the pride of lions.

The three-hour game drive turned into almost four hours since it took time to drive to the entrance to Chobe National Park, register the safari vehicle with the entrance guards and finally reach the river where most of the wildlife is often found. We made this drive many times in the past, and the familiarity was comforting to us in a way that’s hard to explain. We remembered almost every turn on the bumpy ride.

I couldn’t take my eyes off this precious cub, snuggled up next to his mom.

The drive was so bumpy that my Fitbit registered it as if I had taken steps when my arms bounced around to almost 10,000 steps. Speaking of steps on my Fitbit, we just took a break from being in our room and walked around the Chobe Safari Lodge property to see new construction, campgrounds, and a remote bar at the edge of the Chobe River.

He opened his eyes for a few minutes, allowing me to get a few favorite shots.

We had no idea as to the size of this property and were a little surprised by what we saw. We took some photos we’ll share in days to come. It was good to get out walking when we’ve been sitting quite a bit the past few days. We will do this again each day in the future. Tom has agreed to walk with me outdoors when we return to Marloth Park. I need to walk regularly but find it tedious in the house. I don’t want to walk alone due to the lions in the park, and we’ll take a big stick with us when we do.

It was cool when we encountered the pride, but they tend to cuddle when sleeping, even in hot weather.

As for the rest of the day, there’s nothing special on the agenda until tomorrow afternoon’s boat tour on the Chobe River. That should be fun. We did the sunset river cruise during prior visits to Botswana. Once we return to Zambia in a few days, we’ve arranged a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, as mentioned earlier. There’s live entertainment on that cruise, and we enjoy African music.

I could have watched them for hours, but we had to be on our way.

Tonight, we’d dine in the main dining room for their buffet instead of the restaurant up the hill to shake it up a bit. We’re having a pleasant time with plenty of incredible wildlife sightings. I still suffer from headaches and face pain but have decided to make the best of our time here in Botswana and Zambia. Following Monday, I’ll see Doc Theo and see what he suggests.

The sun was in my eyes, and I missed getting a full face shot but kept this one.

That’s it for today, folks. We have countless photos to share and look forward to posting them here for you to see, including when three warthogs entered the bar last night…piggy sundowners, perhaps?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 23, 2021:

Broken Horn is persistent about pellets, scaring off any intruders with his horns. For more photos, please click here.

Immigration realities…Chobe saga continues…More exciting photos…Guest photos…

Holiday home on stilts on the bank of the Chobe River, suitable for the rainy season when the water level rises.

“Sighting of the Day in Chobe National Park”

An old massive elephant resting his trunk on his tusk. We saw this only one other time in the Maasiai Mara in 2013. Here’s the link to that post where there are some shocking photos we’d taken at that time including lions! 

Much to our sadness and dismay, we have to leave South Africa in 88 days on November 21, 2018, unable to complete the remaining time we’d hoped we could stay until February 21, 2019. We’re so disappointed.

Skilled birders, Lynne and Mick, identified this bird as an emerald spotted dove.Thanks, you two, for once again assisting us!

Here’s how it rolled out when we arrived at the airport two days ago and went through the immigration line:

It’s unusual to see a giraffe grazing on the ground.  Also, in this photo are two white cattle egret and a few Egyptian geese.

The immigration officer flipped through our passports and kept saying, “No, no, no. You cannot do this.”  Technically a traveler can only stay one 90-day period in 12 months, not for a full 12 months, as we’d hoped.

Another stunning croc on the Chobe River.

The laws were vague and confusing when we read them. We knew this risk existed but we decided to take the risk anyway. Having made that decision to “wing it” when we first arrived in February, we’re grateful we’ll have had the nine months we managed to stay when all is said and done.  

We’re unable to identify this type of antelope in Chobe.  Any ideas what this may be?

We talked her into giving us one more 90-day period which ends on November 21, 2018. She noted our status on the computer. There is nothing we can do. If we tried one more time, we could immediately be sent out of the country without an opportunity to pack up our stuff and find a place to go. That’s way too risky for us.

A parade of elephants staying cool under the shade of a tree.

Instead, we’ve accepted this reality and last night when Louise and Danie stopped by for sundowners and to say hello, we told them the bad news. They were sad along with us, trying to think of solutions. We appreciate their love and concern. There are no alternatives. We must go.

This monstrous male came out of the bush to check us out.

We have to be in Nairobi, Kenya on February 22, 2019, for our upcoming photo safari adventure which won’t begin until 92 days after we exit South Africa in November. Where are we going to go for 92 days? 

This elephant was not happy this boat was blocking her way to get onto the shore of an island.

Of course, we can always go to Kenya a few days earlier to leave us to spend 90 days in some other African country which we’ll have to do. Most countries we’re considering have 30, 60, or 90 visa limitations. We’d prefer to stay in one country for the entire 90 days.  

Hazy morning view of the Chobe River.

Hopping around in Africa is difficult due to flight hubs requiring many extra hours of travel time, often as long as 24 to 30 hours. There are many countries we won’t consider for this extended period due to political unrest, Ebola, and other risks for travelers, one can only imagine.

Enormous bird nest.

We’ve already visited eight African countries out of 54. You’d think we’d have lots of options. But with our desire to stay 90 days, and find suitable housing to actually enjoy the 90-day time period, it’s not as easy as one might think. 

Hippos napping in shallow water to keep their sensitive skin cool and protected from sunburn.
Hippos grazing close to the shore of the Chobe River.

Thus, fast and furiously we’re researching, narrowing down our options to those that will fulfill our goals while providing us with a great experience to boot. It’s not easy.

Guest photo #1 from Beth Schroeder, a US citizen, working in Dubai who, like us had visited Chobe in May and then again in August.
Guest photo #2 from Beth Schroeder. Thanks for sharing Beth. It was great spending time with you during our game drive in Chobe National Park and on the Chobe River safari.  Great shots of elephants!

Yes, we’re disappointed. We had looked forward to spending Christmas and New Year in the bush with our human and animal friends. We looked forward to seeing the newborns scurrying around the park with their doting mothers (and sometimes dads) on the perpetual search for food, safety, and shelter during the hot days of summer.

To travel from Zambia to Botswana we had to go across the Zambezi River in a small boat. Four countries meet at this exact location: Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The bridge is still under construction and isn’t expected to be completed for 18 months or more.

But, in the realm of things we’ve had our fair share…more than we could have ever dreamed possible. And for that, we are humbled and grateful, leaving here in 88 days with our hearts filled with love and our minds drenched in memories.

Be well. Be happy. Be fulfilled.

Photo from one year ago today, August 25, 2017:

We were in awe of this view from the veranda in Atenas, Costa Rica, when the afternoon clouds roll in each day.For more photos, please click here.

The Chobe saga continues…Angry elephant and scary looking others…Issues with malaria pills…

This short video clearly illustrates how dangerous an annoyed elephant can be 
when their territory is not respected.

“Sighting of the Day in Chobe National Park”

We’ve rarely been this close to a waterbuck since they remain close to the river, impossible for us to access. What a handsome animal!

Those who have been following us for some time know that we hesitate to mention every little ache and pain or discomfort we encounter in our lives of world travel. We all have some degree of a medical issue on occasion, some noteworthy required medical intervention, and others we can manage on our own.

This elephant was not happy to see ours and another safari vehicle on the road. He started flapping his ears and swinging his trunk, tossing sand. See the above video for details.

Today, I share this with our readers as informational only and do not, under any circumstances, suggest our experience is common, nor are we suggesting any medical treatment or advice. This is an FYI only.

The other safari vehicle was much closer to him than ours. 

Upon the recommendation of a local doctor in Komatipoort with whom we recently updated our vaccinations, we began taking malaria prophylaxis medication one day before departure to Zambia on both this trip and the past three months ago.

And then, it happened.  He approached the safari vehicle, ready to charge. See the above video for more.

We were prescribed to take one tablet daily of the generic equivalent of Malarone (Atovaquone Proguanil), known in South Africa, purchased over the counter at any local pharmacy at the cost of about ZAR 14.35 (US $1) per tablet.

Three giraffes along the bank of the Chobe River.

We started taking the pills last Wednesday, with food, one day before we departed Marloth Park continuing daily during the week in Zambia and Botswana, never giving it another thought with a plan to take them seven days after our return.

We’ve never seen so many impalas on any other safaris in the world.

While in Africa for almost a year in 2013/2014, we took the pills continuously, never experiencing any major issues. While in Zambia for a week in May 2018, we followed the same regimen, never giving it much thought.

Our guide Sampson explained that the only animal that can cause a self-induced abortion by eating a certain poisonous plant does so when conditions are poor, and her calf wouldn’t survive.

(We continued to use insect repellent while taking the pills, which is always a must-do while in Africa and certain other parts of the world).  

Hippo with oxpecker, cape buffalo, and impala all in one photo.

The last time I took the first pill, a few hours later, I had a headache.  I never get headaches. I brushed it off and continued with the pills. While on our first safari in Chobe a few days later, I noticed I had a weird headache-like sensation in my jaw for most of the day. I’d taken the pill on an empty stomach and attributed it to that.

Yellow-billed stork.

After lunch, the headache went away. Thus, it obviously made sense to take the pills with food which we’ve done since. But then again, on Monday morning, while in Chobe National Park on a game drive once again, after taking the pill with food, I noticed that same jaw pain. I reached into the backpack and pulled out a Tylenol, and chugged it down.  

Lilac-breasted roller.

An hour later, the pain was considerably less but not totally gone. At that point, I’d never mentioned it to Tom, not wanting to worry him. We continued and had a great few days in Chobe.

Such a sweet face. Check out those eyelashes!

The second day in Chobe, I noticed my balance was off. I kept bumping into things, not outrageously so but enough to make me notice. On Wednesday night, when we returned to the Livingstone Protea Hotel, I could hardly walk straight. I felt nauseous and horribly dizzy.  

Each day before commencing the game drives, tea, coffee, and muffins were served in the bush.

I didn’t feel like having dinner, but to “tough it out,” I didn’t complain, and we ate in the hotel’s restaurant. I ordered a bit of fish and steamed vegetables, hot tea and drank lots of water.  

The beautiful fish eagle.

By yesterday morning, I struggled to do the post, more than I’ve ever struggled in the past when not feeling well. How I got through it, I’ll never know. By noon with the post uploaded, I was in bed, under the covers with the room spinning, and I couldn’t walk across the room. A few hours later, diarrhea hit hard.

Crocs don’t have sweat glands. If a Crocodile gets too warm, it can only reduce its temperature in three ways: get in the shade, get in the water, or sit quietly with its mouth wide open. This one opted for the latter.

I’d stop taking the pills 24 hours earlier. I knew the pills were making me sick and didn’t think it was something else when I’d read that these two symptoms were common side effects of Malarone and its equivalent.  

A face only a mother could love.

By 1600 hours (4:00 pm), I knew there was no way I could go to the restaurant for dinner, and I knew I had to drink lots of water and should have some easy-to-digest dinner although I wasn’t hungry. Not eating would only make me feel weaker and dizzier.

We watched the sunset from the veranda at the Chobe Safari Lodge.

By 1900 hours (7:00 pm), Tom delivered my plate of grilled chicken breast and a few steamed vegetables. I encouraged Tom to relax and enjoy dinner in the restaurant while I ate half-sitting up in bed.  

Neither of us slept well as typical on the night before we fly away. Fortunately, this morning I’m much better although, still feeling a little dizzy. I’ll be OK to travel today. 

African sunsets are memorable.

After searching online, I found this article from the USFDA on the potential side effects of taking malaria pills. Please click here for details on that report. After reading this and other such articles, I’ve decided not to take malaria pills in our remaining seven months in Africa.  

Here’s an excerpt from that report:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising the public about strengthened and updated warnings regarding neurologic and psychiatric side effects associated with the antimalarial drug mefloquine hydrochloride. A boxed warning, the most serious kind of warning about these potential problems, has been added to the drug label.  FDA has revised the patient Medication Guide dispensed with each prescription and wallet card to include this information and the possibility that the neurologic side effects may persist or become permanent. The neurologic side effects can include dizziness, loss of balance, or ringing in the ears. The psychiatric side effects can include feeling anxious, mistrustful, depressed, or having hallucinations. (For a complete list of potential side effects, see Additional Information for Patients).”

I’ll continue as I have all along, using copious amounts of insect repellent every six to eight hours and keep my arms and legs covered as much as possible. Most often, I get bit by mosquitos on exposed skin, not under my shirt and pants.  

Moments later, the sun disappeared, and we walked to the restaurant across the road for a gourmet meal, as shown in yesterday’s post here.

If I wear my insect repellent clothing all summer long in Marloth Park, I will see when we’re in Kenya at the end of February and early March. This time while staying in Marloth Park, neither of us have taken malaria pills. The stay was just too long to continue taking these drugs safely.

Do we worry about getting malaria? We hardly ever give it a thought when taking sensible precautions, but this is up to you, and your doctor should you visit a malaria-prone zone anywhere in the world. This was the last time we’ll take them.  

Tom’s had no issues and will complete his regime for the seven days once we’re back in Marloth Park, but he too says they present too many risks to our liking. We wouldn’t have taken them to Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe had the doctor not insisted it was imperative for these regions.

On the first safari, when we went through the border between Zambia and Botswana, we had to drive through a chemical that cleans the tires to prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease.

Today, we share more of our photos from this week’s four safari adventures: two game drives and two boat rides in Chobe National Park and on the Chobe River.  As you can see, we were hardly disappointed. Many more photos will follow.

Tomorrow, we’ll post our final expenses for this one week in Zambia and Botswana. I wasn’t up to putting them together these past few days, but once we’re back in Marloth Park, I’ll tackle the numbers and share them with all of you.

Soon, we’re off for the airport, and by 1730 hours (5:30 pm), we’ll be back in our own little paradise. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for an easy immigration transition in Kruger/Nelspruit/Mpumalanga!

We’ll be back with you soon. Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 23, 2017:

Statue in a roundabout on our way toward San Jose, Costa Rica, known as Rotondo de las Garantias Sociales Zapote. For more photos, please click here.

We’re in Chobe…What an adventure!…Fun facts about Chobe!…

“What the muck have I gotten myself into?” says Mr. Cape Buffalo (one of the Big Five).

“Sighting of the Day in Botswana”

“Why are all these humans staring at me?” says Ms. Baboon.

While we’re in Chobe (Botswana), we didn’t have ample free time to upload our hundreds of photos to get to work on them. Yesterday morning Steve, our driver with Chris Tours, picked us up at 7:00 am, and we didn’t get to our hotel room at the Chobe Safari Lodge until after 4:00 pm after a full day of game viewing.

The entrance gate to Chobe National Park. Our guide enters the building to be given a route for our game drive.  Luckily, Samson negotiated a route close to the river where wildlife congregates during the dry season.

With a dinner reservation for 1830 hrs (6:30 pm), with both of us desperately needing to shower before dinner, we knew we’d have little time to prepare the type of post we’d like to best represent our entire day’s experiences on a game drive in Chobe National Park and an afternoon cruise on the Chobe River.

Cape buffalo are safe around this young crocodile. But, according to our guide Samson, once this croc is fully grown and a buffalo is floating in the water with hooves not touching the river bottom, they would be in grave danger.

Undoubtedly, my expectations were high after the experiences we had three months ago engaged in these same activities. Tom, on the other hand, kept his expectations in check. But, like visiting Kruger National Park once a week, one needs to temper expectations and go with the flow.  

Elephants have their own built-in snorkel.

There were a few stunning moments we’ll share in photos over the next week. Still, for today, we’ll only be adding a few of the less exciting photos to save time, including the gems from yesterday and today with the accompanying stories to go with them.

Luckily, as you see this post today, we have another full day of the same activities. Hopefully, we’ll be back with some severe adventures in tomorrow’s post when we are back in Livingstone, Zambia.

This elephant crossed the Chobe River with ease.  Elephants are great swimmers.

We stayed with the same group of six other people on the first day during the land game drive, the buffet lunch at the resort, and the boat safari in the afternoon.  

Today, we’ll meet an entirely new group of people. The people we met yesterday were fantastic, and we all shared wonderful stories of our world travels and love of wildlife. 

Man and boy canoeing in a channel of the Chobe River.

One couple from Switzerland and Germany had just come from staying in a lodge in Marloth Park. What a coincidence! We chatted with a pair of traveling friends working together in Dubai with one from Minnesota. Another coincidence.  

Tom is right at home while on safari.  We’ve learned so much over these years. It’s all the more exciting.

The third couple is from Nice, France, and although there was somewhat of a language barrier, we managed to engage in lively conversation. Meeting these friendly people was an exciting and enjoyable experience.  

Of course, we handed out business cards and looked forward to seeing them online, hopefully visiting us here on our site and saying hello on Messenger from time to time.

Warthogs, outside Chobe National Park, running from dogs chasing them as shown in the photo below.

The room at the Chobe Safari Lodge was excellent, with views of the Chobe River. Of course, early in the morning, we heard the magical sounds of hippos gurgling in the river…music to our ears…reminiscent of our time in the Maasai Mara in 2013 when we slept in a luxury tent on the Mara River, awakening to the sounds of the hippos before sunrise. See that link here.

Dogs were chasing warthogs outside the perimeter of the park.

After checking a few online resources, we found these fun facts about Chobe we’re sharing today. Please check below for details.

From this site:
1. Chobe National Park is divided into four different areas, each with distinctly unique geographical landscapes. They are as follows; the Savuti Channel, Linyanti wetlands, Serondella, and Nogatsaa.
2. In 1888, the Savuti channel dried up entirely and only flowed again in 1957, 70 years later. It is changeable and sporadic but exceptionally diverse and beautiful.
3. The roads in Savuti are notoriously difficult to drive through due to the wet black cotton soil in the area.
4. Savute and Linyanti have no internet and no mobile network coverage
All the more reason to take a digital detox and enjoy the simple pleasures of a Botswana safari
5. Before it was a national park, this area was used as trophy-hunting grounds and as a source of teak wood for the blooming timbre industry (both of which have been outlawed).
6. In the 1940s, Chobe National Park fell under a major tsetse fly infestation. This has a significant impact on the decision to declare the area a national park.
7. Gobabis Hill in Savuti has ancient San rock paintings estimated to be about 4000 years old.
8. Chobe National Park has the most elephants in all of Africa, and you can feel the ground shake as a large herd moves by.
9. To celebrate their second wedding, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton married in secret at the Chobe National Park in 1975.
10. Victoria Falls is only a short drive away from the park. Don’t miss the chance to visit this magnificent feat of nature on your Botswana safari.
11. Rhino is the only Big Five animal that is not found easily in the park. (At current speculation, there are only 13 rhinos in this massive national park).

Tonight, we’ll be back at our hotel in Livingstone, Zambia, by dinnertime. For ease, we’ll dine at the hotel, which will be Tuesday evening, and then we’ll dine out once again on Wednesday.  

Our lovely room at the Chobe Safari Lodge in Chobe National Park in Botswana.

On Thursday morning, we’ll head to the airport in Livingstone to return to the Kruger/Nelspruit/Mpumalanga Airport, which is a seven-hour turnaround. At some point during the day on Thursday, we’ll upload a new post. Most assuredly, we won’t be missing any day’s posts during this trip, but the times we upload them may vary.

Hopefully, all goes well with immigration when we re-enter South Africa on Thursday afternoon. Either way, we’ll be sharing the details here.

Have a fantastic day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, August 20, 2017:

This plant in the garden in Costa Rica had an exciting leaf pattern.  For more photos, please click here.

A Royal Wedding watching party in the bush…Close encounters of the elephant kind…

Albert, our guide in Chobe National Park and on the Chobe River, had pulled the safari vehicle close to the river to check out some crocs near the end of this post regarding this story).

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Impalas are very skittish around humans, making it difficult to take photos of them when they rarely visit. This male was moderately interested in a few pellets. But, when he heard a noise in the bush, he took off. When fighting for dominance during mating season, they bark like a  crazed dog, the weirdest sound we’ve heard in the bush.

Today, we’re sharing two stories, one an unreal elephant encounter in Chobe National Park and another, yesterday’s Royal Wedding viewing party I attended on Saturday at Jabula Lodge.

I sat at this table with Gail, Leslie, Pat, and Jeanine.

I’d hesitated to commit to attending the party when the invitation was posted on Facebook several days ago. My concern was we’d be preparing to leave South Africa if and when our passports didn’t get stamped for another 90 days, and the last thing on my mind would have been the Royal Wedding.

As it turned out, for those of you who may not have seen yesterday’s post (please click here), we were able to have our passports stamped for another glorious 90 days. We’re able to stay in South Africa…in Marloth Park. We couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Also included in our viewing group were Gail, Danelle and Rhona.

Thus, I kept my RSVP intact and joined the lovely women after I’d completed and uploaded yesterday’s post. I was exhausted from lack of sleep the previous night, our first night back in Marloth, since I kept awakening, wanting to see if any visitors were stopping by. 

Dawn, Felix, and Lynn (behind the bar).  
  • “Settle down,” I reminded myself, “They’ll be plenty of time for visitors.” But, sleep alluded me, and I was awake from 3:00 am on. Last night, I did better after a great homemade meal on the braai and managed to sleep a total of eight hours, only awakening from time to time. It’s incredible how a good night’s sleep makes us feel the next day.
Dawn, the owner of Jabula, had arranged a beautiful spread for the ladies. She’d offered to make something for me, but I wasn’t hungry.

The party was fun. I knew a few of the women in attendance and had the opportunity to meet several others. The food, the champagne, the decorations, and the festivities were delightful. 

Three baby elephants were off at a distance, and the moms were angry they’d wandered off. They started calling for them, and they came running. This happened so quickly we had no time to react and take a video.  When the babies returned, it appeared the moms were scolding them as they kicked up sand while bellowing.

Although there wasn’t food suitable for my way of eating, Dawn offered to have the kitchen prepare a few items for me, but I politely declined. I wasn’t hungry, and eating was the last thing on my mind.

They were so close to us we didn’t need to use any zoom on the camera.

I didn’t have much interest in the Royal Wedding, but it was fun to see her dress and the hats and clothing worn by the guests…such a wide array of colors, styles, and personalities. 

The huge matriarch came from a short distance and ran toward the herd to see what was happening.

It was no problem yesterday with the playfulness and banter between the women. The chatter around the table was entertaining and exciting, and I was never bored for a moment. With my short attention span, an actual personality flaw, I always make every effort to stay engaged and connected, whether in a group or one-on-one.

A few stragglers who’d been grazing followed suit.

By 2:00 pm, Tom stopped in to pick me up, taking a few minutes to meet everyone, and then we were on our way back “home.” I hesitate to use the word “home” when we are homeless nomads, but here in the bush, it feels like a home, not so much due to the house, but our comfort in living in this environment.

As for the second part of today’s story, we are still reeling from last week’s exceptional elephant encounter in Chobe National Park. I don’t need to write much about it here today.  

 One baby insisted on suckling after all of the action.

What a spectacular week we had! By following the photos and the captions, the story will be told. All I can add is that it was unlike any elephant encounter we’ve had in the past, one we’ll never forget.

Things started to settle down.

Today, we’ll embark upon our usual drive through Marloth Park to see what we can find. However, we may have to postpone for another day after yesterday’s rainy day and predictions for more rain today.

Finally, they decided to wander off.

As shown in the above photo, we’ve only had a handful of visitors today; one guinea fowl, one female bushbuck, and one male impala.  

Weekends tend to be quieter in the bush when there are more tourists and more cars in the park. We always look forward to Mondays for that very reason.

The worry exhibited by the moms was heartwarming to witness. We were grateful to have seen such an event.
And, another calf began suckling.
Have a peaceful and meaningful Sunday, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, May 20, 2017:

We’ve noticed several fur shops in each of the ports of call in Alaska, including this shop in Juneau. For more details, please click here.

Part 2…Chobe National Park safari and Chobe River cruise…Interesting geography, culture and much more…

A small but substantially packed ferry was arriving in Zambia from Botswana while we waited. This reminded us of the ferry boat when we come to Mombasa, Kenya, in September 2013. Click here for that post.
Riding the ferry is accessible for people but not for vehicles between Zambia and Botswana but, to disembark requires removing one’s shoes and walking in the water.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A kingfisher and his catch-of-the-day.  Not a perfect shot, but we were thrilled to get this while on the move.

At the moment, as I begin today’s post, I’m sitting alone outdoors at the hotel restaurant while Tom has gone with Matthew, our regular taxi driver, to the bank where one of our debit cards was swallowed by the ATM on Saturday.

This is where we stood and waited for the little boat to take us across the Zambezi River. A bridge is being built to accommodate the crossing, which could be completed by the end of 2019.

Yesterday our free day, Matthew drove us to the bank only to find the bank manager, the only person who can release the card, was out and none of the staff knew when he’d return. We couldn’t wait around all day for him to return.  We returned to the hotel.

Alec told us this truck broke down on the cement ramp on the river bank. It was shoved off into the river two years ago to get it out of the way and remains in this spot.

Matthew and the hotel concierge got to work to try and reach the bank manager, and a few minutes ago, Tom left to head back to the bank, where the manager was finally available. There’s no guaranty he’ll return the card to Tom, as explained by a bank official. It’s entirely up to the manager’s discretion.

These locals, situated on the side of the road, were selling cold beverages.

Humm…what about Tom will determine whether or not he is credible enough to get his card back? He’s wearing a nice shirt and shorts but then again, so are all the locals and tourists we see. I guess we’ll find out soon enough when he returns, which, when he does, I’ll include the result here as I continue to work on today’s post.

Alfred, our BushTracks guide from Botswana.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we don’t hold this against Zambia in any manner.  We’re in Africa, and clean-cut scammers are coming up with the most unbelievable means of scamming people and institutions like many other parts of the world. I suppose they’re just following protocol.

Locals were walking on the road from Zambia to the ferry to head to Botswana.

Yes, we know we can order a new card from our bank in the US, but the inconvenience of collecting the card by snail mail is frustrating and time-consuming. We’ll see how it goes soon enough.

Anyway, today’s photos and stories include various scenes from the trip to Botswana. First, Alec, our trusty driver and tour guide inside of Zambian border (with Chris Tours), picked us up at the hotel at 7:00 am for the 45-minute drive to the Zambia immigration office near a busy pier on the Zambezi River where four countries intersect as follows:

“There is a place called Kazungula, where four countries meet at the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers intersection. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and a tiny strip of Namibia all come together in one spot.” 

These women around this table all looked up at me and smiled, and gave the thumbs up. What this meant, I’m not sure, but I responded with a big smile and thumbs up as well.

That’s interesting,” we both commented simultaneously. In reviewing the map below, we started in Zambia and crossed the Zambezi River. Once we were on the other side, we were in Botswana. Here’s a map showing these points:

“African “Quadripoint” Only Place on the Earth, Where Four Distinct Territories’ are Touched.” 

Matthew went inside the bank with Tom as his local advocate, and a short time later, he and Tom walked out of the bank with Tom’s debit card safely back in his wallet. (Tom just returned from the bank. He got the card back! Whew! Tom generously “thanked” Matthew when they returned to the hotel).

At every border, vendors promote their wares by asking for purchases multiple times. We say, “No, thank you.”

Once passports were stamped indicating we were leaving Zambia, Alec walked us to a makeshift pier area where we’d have to walk over piles of pier-related construction materials toward the cement ramp where we’d board a little boat to cross the river. 

A very large hornbill, one of our favorite birds in South Africa.

Alec stayed behind in Zambia for the entire day, awaiting our return at 4:10 pm. We felt empathetic about his long day of waiting, but he said he manages to busy himself while waiting for his customers to return after the Chobe day trip.

A troop of baboons in a tree.

Crossing from Zambia into Botswana isn’t as easy as showing a passport crossing a vehicle. Alec took our passports while exiting and returning to the Zambian immigration office to get them stamped.

Albert, our guide with Bush Tracks Safari company, who drove us in the safari vehicle through the Chobe National Park and later drove the boat on the Chobe River, handled our passport stamps at the Botswana immigration office.

We saw no less than a dozen crocodiles during our busy day.

When we finally left Botswana at the end of the day, we had to make a personal appearance at immigration. As mentioned above, Alec again handled our passport stamps as he’d done upon entry back in Zambia. 

All of this takes time, but somehow we breezed through most of it while we were in the good hands of our guides. Our four safari mates were interesting to talk to, and we easily entertained ourselves while we waited.

Friend Louise in Kauai, Hawaii, identified this bird as an African Darter. Thanks, Louise!

Once on the Botswana side of the Zambezi River, Albert greeted us and told us a great story (while we waited for the four other guests) of how, when he was 12 years old, he became lost in the bush in Botswana. 

Female giraffes have hair at the top of their ossicones (horns). Males have worn off their hair from fighting for dominance. “The ossicones are what distinguishes the male and female from one another. Stereotypically, the female giraffe has tufts of hair on the top of her horns, while the males are bald on top. Some males develop calcium deposits on top of their heads, which creates the illusion of the animal having more than two horns.”

His grandfather had taught him valuable bush survival skills, which came into use during his three-day ordeal when he was finally found by his family and a search party. He translated this experience into his masterful skills as a safari guide, both on land and on the river. He provided an exceptional experience for all of us.

Another beautiful bird that is included in the “Ugly 5.”  It didn’t look so ugly to us. Thanks to friend Louise in Kauai, Hawaii, and niece Kari for identifying this bird.

Once the four others arrived, we all jumped into the safari vehicle and began the short drive toward Chobe National Park. Shortly before we entered the park, Alfred stopped the car and set up “tea time” with coffee, various teas, and homemade muffins. I sipped on Rooibos tea, the caffeine-free popular local tea, while Tom had coffee and a muffin. 

Albert prepared our “tea time” before we entered the Chobe National Park.

This pleasant tea time reminded us of when we had breakfast in the Masai Mara when our guide Anderson set breakfast in the savannah where the animals roamed around us. 

The photo from our breakfast in the savannah in the Maasai Mara in October 2013. See the post from that date here. 

We can’t believe we’ll be back in the Masai Mara in February, this time with a new guide since Anderson now works in Uganda with the gorilla tours. We’ll see him when we do that tour in the future.

Check out the muscles on the front quarters of this giraffe.

After tea and coffee, we headed directly into Chobe National Park to begin our land safari, which would last less than three hours. Our expectations were low during such a short period. 

A pair of giraffes at a distance.
Giraffes seldom bend down other than to drink water. This position makes them vulnerable to attack by predators.

As typical during most safaris, the dirt roads were uneven, and passengers must expect to bounce around as if on a ride at an amusement park. But, this is way more exciting than a manufactured ride. This was nature at its finest.

Monitor Lizard on the shore of the river.

During the first 45 minutes, we didn’t see much more than we were used to seeing in Marloth Park; impalas, warthogs, and some pretty birds. Then, the magic began as safari luck kicked in, as usual.  When we hadn’t seen much, I was tempted to tell our safari-mates, “No worries. We have safari luck. We’ll see something soon!” But, I kept quiet, not wanting to disappoint anyone if it didn’t happen.

An elderly group of four were stuck in the sand in their rental car. There is no way they’d have extricated themselves from this situation. Alfred used a tow strap/rope from another vehicle stuck behind this car and towed them out. They insisted on going through the sand again, but Alfred discouraged them, telling them to turn around and go back. We don’t know what ultimately transpired for this group of four seniors. Can you imagine being stuck in such a location overnight, stranded in a vehicle?

And safari luck indeed transpired as hoped as we had a spectacular morning in Chobe National Park. Over the next several days, we’ll continue to share photos from the land and Chobe River safaris.

Elephant skull on the side of the dirt road.

Today at 3:30 pm, we’ll be picked up by yet another tour company to take us on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River on the beautiful, newer “Lion King” catamaran, where drinks and appetizers will be served. It will be fun to meet more travelers while we all share the remarkable stories of our time in this unique part of the world.

Please check back for more and more and more…

Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2017:
Vancouver is comparable to many cities with many skyscrapers and business centers but is impeccably clean and friendly. We boarded the Celebrity Solstice to Alaska later in the day. Please click here for details.

Part 1…Chobe National Park safari and Chobe River cruise…Short breathtaking videos… Please watch for the magic!

None of the six of us or our guide Alfred could believe our eyes as we watched this male elephant build his mud pool in Chobe National Park. We’ve seen a lot of elephants in Africa but this was a rare sighting for us.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

While on safari in Chobe National Park we spotted this male impala with only one antler, most likely lost in a fight for dominance during the mating season.

Yesterday will be emblazoned into our hearts and minds as one of the most memorable days in our five years and seven months of world travel. Only a few prior experiences are held in such high esteem.

This is when he started digging his mud hole for the mud bath.
After he dug a decent-sized mud hole, he decided to try to lay on his side. Digging the hole must have been exhausting for this big fellow in the heat of the sun.

For me, my top five events include; Petra, Jordan; Masai Mara, Kenya; Marloth Park, South Africa, Antarctica cruise, and now Chobe safari and Chobe River cruise in a small boat.

Finally, he was lying sideways in his mud hole. We couldn’t stop laughing and smiling. It was if he was putting on a show for us. But, the best part was yet to begin.

For Tom, his top five events include Panama Canal cruise; Animals of Africa (including Chobe); lava flow on Big Island, Hawaii; Antarctica cruise and like Tom always says, “Everything upcoming in the future.

Video #1
Video #2
Video #3
Video #4

Sure, its easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of a most recent experience.  You know, kind of comparable to “love the one you’re with” mentality.  However, yesterday was indeed one of those special times, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off of our faces.

Upon arising from his mud bath, he decided to clean up in the river, so we thought.

As we’ve often mentioned, the endorphin rush from seeing and engaging in wildlife is indescribable, especially to those who have little interest in nature and wildlife. They just may not get it. And we understand. We may not become excited about certain adventures others find life-changing. Its all a matter of personal preferences and interests. 

He turned and headed out into the river. Alfred maneuvered the boat to ensure we were in a good position for taking photos.

I could go into lengthy descriptions of the three hours we spent in the morning in Chobe National Park, the borders we crossed, the immigration processes that incurred, the lovely four others travelers with whom we spent the day in the safari vehicle, at lunch at the resort, and in the small boat on the Chobe River in the afternoon.

At one point, he appeared to want to head back to the shore.

For now, our intent is to share our photos and videos and later, we’ll go into more detail about the experiences. Most of the sighting that transpired is forefront in our minds which will be clearly illustrated in our photos, videos, and captions below them.

But then, he marched full-on into the river in a determined stride.

We’re grateful we have this time off today, to begin working on the hundreds of photos, and multiple videos uploaded on YouTube. The WiFi is slow at the hotel today so we apologize for it taking so long to upload today’s post.

Nothing was stopping him now.

Last night, when we returned to the hotel, after a very long and fruitful day, we changed out of our typical “safari clothing tan and khaki “Bugs Away” shirts, pants and hats and showered and dressed for the evening.

We were so close we barely used any zoom to get these shots. However, Albert was mindful of ensuring we didn’t get too close and disturb his swim.
If you “gotta go, you gotta go.” Tom took this photo not aware of what was transpiring. Notice him using his trunk like a snorkel.

As we relaxed at the hotel’s inviting lounge, we toasted one another (as always) making intense eye contact while giggling over Tom’s repeated phrase on today’s included videos he’d made on the Chobe River, “Who would have thunk it?”

After his potty break, he was back on the move, getting into deeper and deeper water.

How did this happen to us? How did we ever end up having traveled to eight African countries (a paltry amount compared to the 54 countries on the continent) which now include: Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.  We’ve visited some of these countries on multiple occasions. 

Soon, his huge feet were no longer touching the river bottom and he was buoyant.
At this point, the playful swimming commenced which can be seen in more detail in the above short videos.

We wonder how many more African countries we’ll have the opportunity to visit during our continuing travels. In reviewing a map of Africa we realize there are many countries we’ll never visit due to a high safety and security risks for tourists. We’re not foolhardy.

We couldn’t believe our eyes when he was totally submerged, then rising for a breath.
After 10 to 15 minutes, he decided he’d had enough and headed for shore.

Then again, we’re definitely not on a particular mission to see a certain number of countries in the world. We’re simply in awe of how many we’ve visited and how many more we’d love to see in the future.

As he approached his mud hole, he checked it out wondering if he should play a little more.
He dug around in the mud hole a little.

There’s so much more to share then that which we’ve posted here today. Over the next week or so, we’ll continue with more details and an endless stream of stunning photos of our week in Zambia.

And, he couldn’t resist a little more play.  Thank you, Mr. Elephant, for a beautiful show!

Thanks to all of our readers for your patience in our oft-odd upload times. Once we return to South Africa we’ll be back to our usual more consistent posting times.

Tom’s getting great at taking photos.  Luckily, we now have two cameras. This ensures we don’t miss a shot.  Wait until you see what’s coming up tomorrow!
Tom took this candid shot of me in my funny BugsAway safari hat.
Today, we’re dealing with our photos, deciding where we’ll dine tonight and looking forward to tomorrow’s Zambezi River sunset cruise. Since we came to Africa in 2013, I’ve longed to cruise on the Zambezi River for reasons I cannot explain. By Thursday, we’ll be able to share “the why.” Please stay tuned.
Happy day to all!
                    Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2017:
Tom and I in Vancouver, British Columbia with our friend /reader Sheila, a Vancouver resident. For more on this story, please click here.