Sunday February 1st ~ Chobe National Park, Botswana
Up early and on the road by 7:30 for an hours’ drive to the border crossing from Zimbabwe into Botswana.
Landlocked, the country is bordered by South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia. Botswana is the world’s 48th-largest country, similar in size to Madagascar or France, but is one of the most sparsely populated in the world with just over 2 million people. The fact that 70% of the country is covered by the Kalahari desert may be a contributing factor in the low population numbers.
In the late 1960’s Botswana was considered one of the poorest countries with a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about US$70 per year. Today they have made an amazing turnaround with one of the fastest growing economies. The biggest contributor to the GDP is tourism and diamonds. They can now boast a GDP per capita of about $16,400 per year as of 2013.
But despite political stability and economic growth, the country has been brutally harmed by HIV/AIDS with around 1/4 of the population estimated to be infected.
Traveling in the country is relatively easy with decent tarred roads, however traveling at night is not recommended. The animals, large and small roam freely and with no road lights, you can come across a herd of elephants or a crash of hippos at any time.
I am reminded that a couple of days earlier we were stalled in “traffic” for a short time as we made our way past a car still in the road that was completely crushed. The driver had hit two large cape buffalos. The animals had not survived and were being towed to the side of the road. We have no information as to whether or not the driver and/or passengers survived, but I can only hope so as it did not look good.
“Botswana is known to be one of the best places in Africa to naturally experience wildlife. The national parks make up a large percentage of the country. The government supports to keep Botswana as a major tourist destination. Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, the Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Pans and the Central Kalahari are all major tourist attractions…” ~ Chobe National Park.co.za
Today we are visiting Chobe NP. It is the third largest of the National Parks in the country and the oldest. I am always excited to see the animals, and Chobe is famous for having the largest concentration of African elephants.
We broke the day up into two parts, a morning game drive and an afternoon cruise on the Chobe river.
“Elephants living here are Kalahari elephants, the largest in size of all known elephant populations. They are characterized by rather brittle ivory and short tusks, perhaps due to calcium deficiency in the soils.” ~ Wikipedia
But enough “words”, I really want the animal pictures to speak for themselves. So with no further ado, here are just some of our favorite shots of the day:
Update: I think this is a wire tailed swallow. A special thanks to Clara@expatpartnersurvival.com for identifying it for us.
And I’ll finish this post off with a couple of pictures of us on the river cruise:
Today I am grateful for all that I am learning along the way, from politics to animal facts, from local customs to ancient histories. We were only in Botswana for the day, but I am so glad we got to see so many magnificent animals. The large herds of elephant stood out, as the day before the river boat captain said that there were ZERO elephants to be seen. What a difference a day makes!
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