Botswana is one of the few African countries that has a stable government, is rich in minerals, exquisite in natural beauty and has a strong currency. Their currency is, at this point, even stronger than the South African Rand. Even though South Africa is mostly seen as the advanced and stable country in Africa, Botswana never had any political instability or tribal wars like 90% of the other African countries experienced at some stage after independence.
The northern part of Botswana has the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe river and National Park. Accommodation and travel to these areas are very expensive. I could find only two backpackers hostels in Botswana of which one is in Gaberone. Gaberone is definitely not a tourist area. After speaking to people that own land in Botswana and have inside information on the country, I understood the objective behind this. Botswana’s main concern is protecting their natural resources, unlike many other African countries.
They don’t want unappreciative tourists to flood the country on a cheap vacation. The areas stay tranquil and quiet. It obviously enriches the experience for the tourists visiting and add to the luxurious atmosphere.
The Chobe National park has one of the biggest elephant populations in Africa. You are guaranteed wonderful close up views of these elegant and powerful animals during a drive through the park or a boat cruise on the Chobe. There are also big herds of Impala, Buffalo and many other animals and birds.
On the river cruise, you will most certainly meet up with a few hippos relaxing in the water. You have to look carefully as most of the times they look more like rocks in the water than animals. They do, however, come out every once in a while, which will give you chance to take a good look at these massive creatures. They are very dangerous and sometimes try to attack the boats on the river. Not a good idea, as most of the boats doing tours on the river are much bigger than they are. However, on a small boat you might be in danger if an angry hippo gets disturbed in his rest.
There are many lodges on the river with wonderful views of the mighty river which is so full now that many decks and braai areas on the riverside are under water. River cruises can be done in a big cruise boat or smaller speed boats. Most of the lodges have their own boats. Day trips to Chobe can be done from the Victoria Falls. Hotels and backpackers in Livingstone (Zambia) or Victoria Falls Town (Zimbabwe) can organize this for visitors.
Again it is not a cheap excursion but worthwhile if you are visiting the Victoria Falls. It is about 80km from Livingstone. What makes this experience quite unique is that you will cross the border at Kazangulu on the ferry over the Chobe. At this point, you will see the Namibia (Caprivi strip), Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe borders from the ferry. Locals use the ferry regularly and get on with all their products, from buckets of tomatoes to sugar cane and bags of cement. It gives you a tiny peek, into how they live and survive.
Chobe is an experience that has to be lived and can’t be captured in photos or words.
Ernest Hemingway said: “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.” I concur.