African Overland – Chobe, Botswana

After saying goodbye to Pedro at Victoria Falls it was time to meet up with my travel group for our camping trip to Cape Town. We would be spending 3 weeks together on the road travelling 5500km through Botswana, Namibia and South Africa on an overland truck.

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Our overland truck ready for departure

The big beasts of trucks having been plying the overland routes in Africa for over twenty years though many facilities and activities have now grown up around them. Vic Falls was the meetup and changeover for several different East Africa/South Africa routes with about half our truck coming in off other routes. Our truck could fit 25 though we were only 15 which seemed a much more manageable number.

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My mosquito filled tent, second from the left

We spent our first night in tents in the camping site. Unfortunately mine must have been left open by the prior user so after I had a nap I had been eaten alive by no fewer than 12 mosquitos (I had to find and kill each one).

Later I made my own mistake of leaving the tent slightly unzipped which allowed monkeys to get inside and go through all my shopping, throwing it all over the tent. Not much damage was done except to a tube of toothpaste which was bitten through – the culprit clearly not taking to the minty fresh breath.

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Don’t even think about it!

These type of experiences were, I was told, filed under the catchall phrase ‘T.I.A.’ for unexpected or surprising events – This Is Africa.

Al our first group meeting we met our driver, guide and cook along with a selection of couples, solo travellers, friends together and two brothers. After it was off out of Zimbabwe and down the road to Botswana and the Chobe national park.

I have to say I knew very little, if anything, about Botswana before arriving there but it’s something of a standout in Africa. Blessed with natural resources in the form of diamonds it has avoided the ‘resource curse’ and developed to a middle-income country since independence in the 1960s.

Gray Location Map of Botswana, hill shading

For many years the fastest growing economy in the world it has been democratically ruled by the same party ever since independence. It now has the highest GDP per person in Africa for its 1.5 million people but also a shocking HIV prevalence rate of 25% of the adult population.

It is a country which has its act together in more ways than one – the anti-poaching units protecting rhinos and elephants are one of the most effective and last year had zero poached animals.

Our destination to see this game was the Chobe National Park – famed for tens of thousands of elephants.

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We passed what could only be described as the shadow outline of a leopard in a bush with its kill before it slinked away out of sight and I realised just how lucky we were to see leopards so clearly in Seregeti. We weren’t limited to just elephants though as we came across a pride of lions on the move as a family.

That night we spent in the park itself, under the stars, just a few kilometres down the road where the lions were heading.

Around the camp fire we got the passed on advice that if taken by a lion to try to go quietly to avoid upsetting others! Who wouldn’t sleep soundly after that?

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