Chobe, Elephant Paradise, Botswana (2022)

Chobe, Elephant Paradise, Botswana (2022)

After two weeks of driving through Namibia, we flew from Windhoek to Katima Mulilo on the border, drove another 75 km to exit Namibia and through 700 meters of ‘no man’s land’ to cross the land border into Kasane, the border town of Botswana, the most well governed country in all of Africa. ( Those who read Alexander McCall Smith would already know). We had to dunk our shoes into disinfectant water to get rid of Namibian germs before entering Botswana. The lodges everywhere including Namibia are ultra luxurious, but the ones in Botswana take it to a new level – along with soap, shampoo, showercap etc, the lodge helpfully places a strip of condoms in your chalet; Hubby was cribbing why so few!

Chobe is overrun by elephants – whether you cruise down the eponymous river or go bumping about in a safari vehicle, you encounter herds after herds. We stayed in the lovely Kubu lodge with its scattered chalets so tastefully done and personalised service. The Chef went out of his way to ensure I got rice and some veg curry for every meal.

Botswana got independence from the Brits in 1966. There was a border dispute with Namibia on the other bank of Chobe river. The dispute, relating to a riverine island on the Chobe, went up to ICJ. A posse of judges landed here, holidayed, safari-d and had a good time and gave the island to Botswana which reserved it for tourism. Namibia wanted to farm on this fertile island. Wildlife won over human need.

Although Botswana seems a lot more fertile than Namibia, what with Chobe to irrigate its delta, virtually everything comes from South Africa although I did spy banana and papaya plantations. Spar, Shoprite and Checkers have huge supermarkets in every town small or big and these are stocked to the gills.Visited another lodge run by women where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton stayed in their honeymoon suite. Its inside Chobe National Park.

Kubu is strategically located on the banks of the Chobe. We basked in the sprawling environs of lodges perched amidst stately trees, dappled sunshine. Views of the river where warthogs loiter and impalas dart while chilly pepper (red beak) hornbills heckle and cackle. Yonder, elephants are having their morning drink at the Chobe Where soaps are imprisoned making you pump drop by drop. But no match for us Indians who can unscrew the cap and help ourselves to a handful.

There are 250000 elephants in this park sprawling over 11000 We had an exclusive safari vehicle for the two of us. Our safari guide did a bit of dune bashing to show us almost all the denizens of Chobe. Yet, i believe neither Etosha nor Chobe is a patch on Serengeti and Ngorongoro which i visited some years ago. That was truly Noah’s Ark. Chobe is good, but not the best. Most African countries have figured out how to monetize their wildlife through tourism and Botswana has elevated this to a fine art.