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.
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However, there are approximately 140,000 elephant in Botswana and only about 50% of them are in parks / nature reserves.
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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.
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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.
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We stayed one night at Senyati Camp – another lovely, remote, unfenced private camp around a natural spring that attracts elephant, buffalo, giraffe, etc.

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

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…plus elephant…

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

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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.

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

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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.

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They raid the bins…

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…drink from the washing-up sinks…

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…or just prowl around looking for trouble…

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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.

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

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

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…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!

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They ate the lot.