Chobe National Park
Sleeping in the middle of wildlife territory is not something you do everyday. We were lucky enough to experience this for the first time in Botswana in Chobe National Park at the Ihaha Campsite.
To be able to drive through the park there is one thing you definitely need: a proper 4×4. We hired a Toyota Hilux with a rooftop tent. Since we didn’t want to set up our tent for the first time with a lion breathing down our neck we tried this at a ‘normal’ campsite first. We also deflaten our tires a bit to make driving in the sand a pleasant experience. While we were doing this we were reminded of where we actually were, a baboon jumped on top of our car and was about to enter our car :).
How lucky can you be? Swimming elephants
After the first hundred meter in Chobe we thought that we were ‘over-equipped’ with our 4×4. That thought changed drastically when we got to the first corner. The roads are definitely sandy!
Taking this first corner will lead you to the river. If you’re there you are in for a great treat. We’ve been in a few game parks in South Africa but this was something we never saw before. Everywhere we looked we saw elephants swimming in the river. On the riverbanks giraffes, impala and zebra’s were roaming around. We were here in the dry season (also called suicide month) which made it easier to spot game near the river.
In Chobe there are a number of options when it comes to accommodation. Ultimate luxurious lodges and basic campsites along the river can be found in this huge park. When looking at the more basic campsites there are three different options: Ihaha, Savuti and Linyanti. If you enter the park from Kasane like we did Ihaha is the campsite to go to since it’s near the entrance. The Ihaha campsite provides spacious sites along the river. They all have a great view on the river, come with a braai (bbq) spot and a ‘baboon proof’ garbage can. When we arrived we both took a shower to benefit from the daylight. After that we started cooking while the sun slowly set. Can it be any prettier?
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Not your typical guests
While preparing our dinner near our car we heard something. When we turned to our right we saw three big animals walking towards us: elephants! On a closer inspection it turned out to be two adults with a baby. They wanted to drink some fresh water out of the river behind us. This meant that we where in between them and the river, not a great place to be in. We were as silent as we could and hoped that they would back off. When there trunks went up in the air we got a bit scared. Luckily they were just assessing the situation and decided to take a detour.
What’s that noise?
When the moon is out to replace the sun everything is pitch black. You really have to rely on the strength of the moon to be able to see something. We managed to start a small campfire and talked about our first day in the wild. What a day!
When we where about to sleep in our rooftop tent we only used the nettings to keep the mosquitos out. This provided us with an excellent view of the river bank. When the moon got a bit brighter we managed to differentiate elephants and buffalos from the dark landscape. This was simply amazing.
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After this short but awesome night at the Ihaha Campsite we woke up with an enormous noise. A number of baboons where trying to get as much as possible out the ‘baboon proof’ garbage can. Guess they weren’t that baboon proof in the first place since they got all the remains of our dinner out of this can. We then decided to stay in the tent a bit longer and prepare ourselves for another day in the bush! This was an awesome start of our trip through Botswana.