Botswana or Bust- The Okavango and Chobe

The Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park are two of Botswana’s greatest treasures.  We decided to do both and had some incredible experiences (and learned a lot too!). 

In the Okavango, we stayed at Old Bridge Backpackers and loved it.  The tents are simple and clean, the food delicious, and the views aren’t bad either.  You can even watch hippos from your lounge chair!

We decided to experience the Okavango by Kayak Safari and weren’t disappointed. Kayak Botswana boated us 30 miles deeper into the Okavango wilderness where we had a better chance to view wildlife.  The Delta is full of hippos and crocodiles (only ten feet long, don’t worry!) with chances to spot elephants and other animals as they come to the river to drink!

We set up camp deep in the Delta and our local wildlife guide, Oddie, took us on a walking safari.  Without civilization in sight or a vehicle to hide inside, we really felt close to the animals.  We tracked leopards, lions, zebra and elephants.  And we learned that nature is really cool.   We took an evening and a morning walk with Oddie and highly recommend a walking safari to acquaint yourself with tracking and an intimate perspective on the animals.

Blakely's face sums up our opinion on nature!

No camping trip is complete without a fire, but our kayak guide and cook, Jardis, went above and beyond in cuisine!  As the stars came out, we feasted while gazing at the Southern Cross, and then headed to our tent for the night.  The second day was just as eventful and we felt like we got an up-close look at the Okavango.

The next stop was Chobe National Park, which is known for having more elephants than any other park.  The elephants are also of abnormally large size and look like they’ve been stretched!  For our safari, we picked Kalahari Tours and took a three day trip into the heart of the park.  

We saw lionesses and their cubs, zebras, giraffes, and elephants galore.  We even spotted two different leopards lazing in the treetops!

The camping was a delight with great food, wonderful company, and a chorus of animal noises to sleep to every night.  We feel very lucky with our first safari experience and can’t wait until the next one!  Now, onto Victoria Falls!

That's What We Did in Botswana.  Click Here to read What We Learned.  Or Click Here for the full Botswana Photo Gallery!

Our Favorite Animal Facts from Botswana

1.  Elephants have terrible eyesight (even worse than humans), but they make up for it with an incredible sense of hearing and smell.

2.  Leapards rarely fight back.  These cool cats hunt alone so, if they’re injured, they’ll almost certainly die.  The result?  They go for easy kills and stay above the danger in trees.

3. As soon as her eggs hatch, a crocodile mother puts her babies in her mouth.  There’s a pouch in there and she can carry her babies the short distance from the nest to her “nursery.”

4. When we asked our guides what animal they most fear, both separately said the African Buffalo.  One explained that “you never know what they’re thinking.”  The other simply said “they’re crazy.”

5. A close second in fear factor: the hippo.  The hippo is scary because “they don’t know what they want.”  They’re humongous herbivores who are notoriously aggressive.  They’ll charge at the least provocation and you don’t stand a chance if you stand between them and the water.

6. Girraffe males duel each other by standing side-by-side, swinging their necks wide and whacking each other in the chest.

7. To cross the river, elephants join trunk to tail.

8. Ostrich tastes like steak.  Crocodile tastes like fish.  Yes, we speak from experience.

9. Folks here are serious about poachers.  A military force patrols the park and, when they find a poacher, they shoot to kill.

10. Zebras are the national animal of Botswana!  Our guides informed us why this is a fitting partnership.  One:  In Botswana, blacks and whites live in harmony.  Two, zebras have a diamond shape between their eyes that perfectly illustrates Botswana’s booming diamond industry.

Bonus Fact:  When asked about Cecil the Lion's death, our guides didn't blame the American dentist in the least.  However, they're emphatic in their condemnation of the dentist's Zimbabwean guide.  Their reason?  The American likely didn't know he was outside of the law while the guide absolutely knew.  This debate is of course separate from the moral question of African laws allowing these killings in the first place.

Go to the Blog to see full details on our Botswana adventure.  And Click Here for the full photo gallery!