Zambezi Bound – Monkey Business

Disappointed not to be able to go into Moremi with the car, we headed 230km east from Maun, along the Makgadikgadi / Naxi Pan road.

The potholes are a menace. One woman recently got into the newspapers taking a bath in one as a protest.

However, there are approximately 140,000 elephant in Botswana and only about 50% of them are in parks / nature reserves.

The rest often seem to graze at the side of the roads (and wander across them) as if they owned the place.20140314-161705.jpg

Chances are anything could just wander out.20140314-161850.jpg

Top Tip: Keep your speed down, your eyes peeled and never drive at night.

That night, as another heavy sky threatened us, we stayed at a lovely, remote lodge called Elephant Sands, about 50km north of Nata.

A nice, simple bar no more than 10 metres from a waterhole. They can get hundreds of elephants there in the dry season.

Another great sunset.20140314-162134.jpg

They also have a fixed menu dinner, (not cheap, $12 each) which was pretty good, but the highlight for me was the home-made bread. The best I’ve tasted since coming into Africa.

Camping 85 Pula per person (8,500 ‘raindrops’ / $8). Good value. A peaceful campsite, with simple showers etc.

Even the firewood round here is attractive.20140314-162254.jpg

None of the camp is fenced and we sat that evening with a glass of wine as an elephant wandered round the shower block 15 metres away.

The next morning, a cracking view from ‘The Penthouse‘ at sunrise.20140314-162501.jpg

We had coffee at the bar and watched the elephants wander amongst the chalets.20140314-162612.jpg

We headed north towards Kasane, a small town at the ‘pointy’ eastern end of the Caprivi strip where the borders of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet.

The Old Hunter’s Road (I think that’s a euphemism for Poacher’s) runs north, right along the Zimbabwe border. It’s pretty remote. The few villages we passed are just collections of very simple dwellings. 20140314-162735.jpg

When it rains out here, even a leaky old Land Rover provides at least some shelter.20140314-162924.jpg

The effects of the rain and flash floods can leave some weird sights on the large, flat plains.

We stayed one night at Senyati Camp – another lovely, remote, unfenced private camp around a natural spring that attracts elephant, buffalo, giraffe, etc.


Expensive: P340 (£24 / $38) per night, but that gets you a private shelter / shower block…


…plus elephant…


…and up to 100 buffalo wandering though the camp as you cook round the campfire.


A little unnerving. Perhaps even more so than the elephants.

We were headed for Chobe Riverfront at Kasane and the next day moved on 40km up the road to the Botswana / Zambia border on the Zambezi River.


Chobe Safari Lodge is large, fancy and fairly expensive (£200-£1,000 / $330 – $1,600 per night).


But the camping is very good value (P150 / £10 / $16) per night – and you get to use all the Lodge facilities.

Mind you, this is still pretty much the middle of nowhere and the campsite is swarming with Baboons & Vervet monkeys.


They raid the bins…


…drink from the washing-up sinks…


…or just prowl around looking for trouble…


The males with the blue balls are in charge. The bluer the balls, the further up the hierarchy the monkey is.

The youngsters who haven’t learnt the bin-raiding trick yet, just sit around cultivating their ‘I’m helpless, please feed me’ face.


Other visitors in camp include the Striped Mongooses (Mongeese / Mongii?)


…who flatten themselves and try to play-dead if you get too close…


…and the Warthogs who race around chasing each other. These 4 woke us at 5.30am one morning crunching the remaining logs from last night’s fire just to get the meat fat off the coals!


They ate the lot.