Botswana is a country that I know has so much more to offer then just its breathtaking landscape and lively wildlife, but unfortunately my brother and I only had 48 hours in this country, so we spent it on a safari!! It is very difficult to travel all the way to Africa and not do a safari! Of course it’s on everyone’s mind, and there is a reason, it is amazing! Coming from the United States the only time I’ve seen lions, hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, or pretty much any wild animal was in a Zoo. So getting to seeing all of these animals in the wild was a very surreal experience. Chobe National Park in Botswana is famous for their herds of elephants, though they do have the “Big 5” (lion, leopard, elephant, rino, buffalo). We saw it all except the leopard unfortunately, however we knew that was very rare to begin with.
The best way to do Chobe. Stay at a lodge in the park! (Or camp if you want to save a little money) We stayed at Elephant Vally Lodge and it was breathtaking! Right in the middle of the wild! The two day trip began with being picked up from our hostel in Livingstone, Zambia, drove less than an hour to cross the boarder into Botswana and than about another 30-45 minutes to get into the National Park. We immediately started our first 3 hours game drive. We saw elephants, impalas, warthogs, and a ton of different birds within the first 30 minutes in the park! I was shocked how close we got to everything as well. Besides the animals, the landscape of this incredible park is something I can not even describe! True beauty, and as far as the human eye could see it went on forever in the distance! I only wish I had more than 2 days so I could have explored deeper into Chobe. Our safari driver made his way down to the river bank where we saw our first of many crocodile! Smaller ones at first but we did eventually see a pretty big one! Again, a little scary how close we got! The game drive was coming to an end, and I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed we hadn’t seen a lion, though I knew not to get my hopes up. Right as we were about to turn around to head out of the park.. WE SAW ONE! I was so happy, my dream was to see a lion. It was a bit later in the day around noon, so this was very rare! It was one female lion, in the distance. She stood up for about 2 minutes (just enough time for me to get a few pictures and take it all in that a wild lion was half a football field away!) but then she laid back down into the brush and we were unable to see her, made us wonder how many more lions were out there that we just couldn’t see!! As were drove out of the park we also got to see 3 giraffes!
We made our way to Elephant Valley Lodge where my brother and I were both shocked when we showed up. I knew the lodge was pretty “luxury” because I had seen online pervious to my trip that it was 500$+ a night. We had no intentions of staying here, we were originally going to camp because we were on a budget, however our hostel back in Livingstone, Zambia (Jollyboys Hostel) was offering a 50% discount for last minute bookings! Perks of going to Africa in the off season! So we were so excited to get the opportunity to stay at this lodge. Luxury was an understatement forsure!! We arrive and were greeted by the kindest staff and a fully included buffet lunch and bar drinks. We relaxed by the pool and got to look out to a waterhole and hear the birds and monkeys making noises. Yes we were literally staying in the middle of the wild! Everything from our game drives, boat ride, food, and accommodations was taken care of and over the lodge was amazing.
A few hours later it was time for our boat game drive! Hippos, elephants and crocodile were all in full action on this activity!! We also saw a water buffalo (big 5). Honestly the boat scared the sh*t out of me, we got too close for comfort to the hippos and crocodiles for my tasting, but once I was back on land it was an incredible experience. We then returned to the lodge and got to eat dinner over looking the water hole where we were joined by some elephants and monkeys as we ate! Incredible!!
Such a wonder first day, I didn’t know how the second day could get any better. Obviously our hopes were up to see a leopard, however our safari driver told us that it had been about a month since they last saw one, so we excepted that wasn’t going to happen. So we just told our driver we wanted to see anything, if possible more lions. We entered the park and our drive new what he was doing he stepped on the gas and he said hold on. He was speaking over the radio in the native langauage and so my brother and I were unsure what was going on. We went zooming past herd of elephants, apalla, warthogs, and amazing senery, untill we were way deeper in the park than we had been the day before… then we saw it, a pride of 14 lions!
Once you pay for your lodge or camping everything is included! We did two days one night and that included 3 hours game drive, lunch, 3 hours boat game drive, dinner, lodge to sleep (very very nice room)! Next day: breakfast, 3 hours game drive, lunch. Transportation to and from hostel as well! It may sound expensive at first, but 200-400$ for what will be 2 of the best days of your life everything included is worth it! I promise.