As I finished the last post, I said our next stop was Chobe National Park. I was wrong. Our next stop was the Rainbow River Camp – Chobe was a long drive away.
The tour was a camping tour, with occasional opportunities to upgrade the accommodation. I was utilizing these upgrades because pitching the tents was a challenge for me. I could manage the weight – they were heavy rubberized canvas – but the metal clips that fastened the tent to the steel poles were a challenge to my thumbs that have developed arthritis over the years, making pushing the clips onto the poles very painful. Fortunately, my roommate Gail was willing to upgrade also.
Boat cruises are popular in Africa because there is a lot of wildlife to see in the water, and so several of us took advantage of the boat cruise at Rainbow River.
The boat first headed upstream to a small island set in the middle of rapids, where we disembarked for closer views:
And then we turned and headed downstream to see what we could see. The thing about wildlife viewing is that there is never a guarantee that you will see anything, but one is rarely disappointed here.
Hippos are mainly what we have seen in the rivers, and when they are in the water, you rarely see more than their eyes and ears, and maybe some of their back. Although they seem to be yawning, opening their mouth is actually a sign of irritation and aggression. Hippos are easily irritated and are considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, even when they are on land. This behavior (above) is a dominance display, a male protecting his females from other males.
The river itself is scenic, and the ride is relaxing.
And, we saw where the African kingfishers like to nest – we saw the birds close-up in the Okavango Delta.
The boat served drinks, which added to the relaxation, and our cohort had a lovely afternoon on the water.
The Rainbow River Camp was expanding their inventory of cottages, so there were three or four that were right by the camping area, and we took advantage of that. Gail, who kept a journal of the tour, described it this way, starting with leaving Umvuvu:
“1 May 2019
An early rise 5.30 packed and breakfast and onto the micros back to dry
land, we gather to say thanks and good bye to our porters.
We are now on board the truck heading to the pan handle crossing on
the ferry and the border and to Bageni Rain Bow Camp.
When we arrived at Rain Bow River Lodge some us up graded into rooms
which we thought was great .
Late afternoon some of us went on the Rain Bow River Boat Cruise and
walked onto a small Island and back on the boat and returned to camp
We all had tea later on we went to our room l decided to have a shower
I turned the water on the room started to flood my room mate alerted
me so I quickly turned the shower off it took some time to clean the
This was all the part of the adventure and a couple of spiders greeted
us on the window my room mate Suzanne a little apprehensive of our
spiders that came to visit so I bravely killed them with my shoe.”
The spiders were quite large, about two, maybe two and a half inches in diameter – that includes their legs, but still (in my book) large spiders. And she forgot to mention the ones that were on the ceiling! But, Gail did, in fact, bravely kill them with her shoe, and also used mine.
We had not had this problem before, so I conclude that we were the first people to occupy these new cottages and the spiders had not yet gotten with the program. I’m sure there were more hiding in the thatched ceiling/roof, but they didn’t bother me since I couldn’t see them, meaning they must not be near me, right?
Aside from being on the river, one of the nice things about Rainbow River Camp was that it had a horseshoe-shaped bar with a large screen television. Our cohort included several Aussies, New Zealanders, and U.K. residents, so the World Cup matches were of great interest, and the evening that began relaxing on the river cruise became very lively as the latest match played out in front of us. And I learned which team I could root for without threat of bodily harm….
The next day, we set out for Chobe NP. It was a full day’s drive, but we arrived in time to set up camp before losing daylight. Warthogs wandered at will through the campground at the Chobe Park Lodge, as did the Chaco baboons, so keeping the campground clean was imperative.
We went for an early morning game drive is vehicles designed for the purpose, and local drivers who were familiar with the park. We arrived in the dark, but it was not long before dawn came to the Chobe River.
Impala, Cape Buffalo, and Maribou Stork. More Maribou storks below, an egret, and the African fish eagle.
We spent some time with the baboons, who were pretty entertaining:
On the side uphill from our vehicle, the ground that never floods was drier, and therefore, sandier. Grooming is important to all primates. It’s a way of keeping the family bonds strong. The youngsters do the same thing with play, plus building their strength and skills. The “argument” between two siblings looks like a different location, but it’s at the same place, and gives meaning to the phrase, “dust up.”
Mid-morning tea break! A welcome break from a “hard morning’s work” of looking at African wildlife and enjoying the scenery, and a chance to ask more detailed questions of our driver/guide.
Elephants, Cape Buffalo, and a Lion?
One of the elephants had a baby with her!
This Cape Buffalo was wallowing in the mud. It seems the animals that have little hair or fur use mud for a similar function – to protect their skin from the sun – and to cool off and to rid themselves of skin parasites. The birds help – you can see one has landed in the 2nd photo. I was never able to see the lion while I was in the vehicle, although others swore there was one there. I took the photo on faith. It’s the “beige blob” in the photo. If you can enlarge the photo, it is definitely a lion, although a frustratingly hidden one!
Zebra were everywhere, although these, it turns out, are unique to Botswana. You can recognize them by the brownish stripe they have, whereas further north, they have only black and white stripes. I read a recent article that says the alternating stripes are actually a built-in cooling system: the black stripes absorb heat and the white stripes do not, and their proximity creates air movement. Seems a stretch to me, but I’m not a biologist.
The pool was available to all guests, so I took advantage of that! After the relaxing afternoon, we went on a boat cruise in Chobe, and the wildlife viewing was even better!
The elephants were eating grass. They used their trunks to rip it out of the ground, then they would beat it several times on the ground before they put it into their mouths. I’m not sure why, except to clean dirt off and maybe soften it a little before eating it. Elephants get six sequential sets of teeth, shaped like molars to chew the grass and leaves that they eat.
These birds have a symbiotic relationship with elephants, cleaning their skin and behind their ears.
What a “good wallow” looks like:
At last! Hippos above water! Usually, hippos spend their daylight hours submerged in the water, where it’s cooler. This was late afternoon, so this guy was just a little early. He (could’ve been a “she”) wandered along the grassy wetland, eating on the way.
Scenes from a Botswana afternoon:
Relaxing into evening, with weaver bird nests along the water: