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Our 2010 Trip Diary Competition Winner
Livingstone to Windhoek by Tessa Murray

We are very grateful to Tessa Murray for this wonderful trip diary. She wins a free Safari Drive holiday to Namibia. We look forward to reading her next diary in October 2011!
pictures byTessa Murray

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Livingstone to Windhoek

Sunday 17 October 2010
Livingstone - Waterberry Lodge

First proper day! We've already had anexcellent time in Livingstone exploring the Victoria falls and surrounding areas, but today is when the adventure starts for real. We're picked up from Livingstone and transferred across to the luxurious Waterberry Lodge on the banks of the Zambezi. We have 2 adjoining rooms in alittle thatched hut set in lush tropical gardens. The backpackers was nice, but it's good to have private bathrooms, huge beds (not bunks) and a whole lot of space and luxury. There is even a little lagoon with a few spots for bird watching - my favourites are the pied kingfishers and jacanas (the "Jesus" birds, that walk on water).

We enjoy hanging out in the upstairs bar overlooking the river and are joined by Gale who starts our trip briefing. Everything is prepared in detail - the route, the border crossings, when and here to shop, emergency procedures, the works. Then we finally get introduced to the Land Rover - our home for the next 3 weeks!

Far more equipment than we are used to for camping, all neatly stowed away and organised and listed and checked. Also a food box full of good things. All very exciting and we can't wait to head off. Just before sunset we are taken on a private sunset river cruise. Mostly we meander along the banks of the Victoria falls national park on the Zimbabwe side. We don't see any animals but do see a lot of birds and it's a very pleasant way to spend the evening.

Monday 18 October 2010
Waterberry Lodge - Chobe National Park

We're keen to head off to Chobe really early. But we also have the option of an early morning bird walk. Fred's dubious that birds could be that interesting but we go anyway. Our guide, Webby, is excellent. His knowledge of the local birds is vast - amazing to see how he identifies so so many different species by their calls - he seems to know literally hundreds of different species and also all their little habits and behaviours. And the birds here are amazing - even the little scrub birds are really pretty, the kingfishers are like jewels and we spend some time trying to find a woodpecker that we'd been hearing all morning. Even Fred is impressed. Our 'quick' breakfast consists of pancakes or omelettes and delicious home made bread (wish we could take a few loaves with us) and we leave the Waterberry feeling very satisfied indeed.

Our first real challenge is the border crossing at Kazangula. We were expecting chaos and hours of waiting. We got the chaos, but it's not as bad as anticipated. There are lots of money changers and curio sellers, and people just wanting to 'help' (for a small undisclosed fee) and they do swarm around the vehicle. But inside the buildings it's fine -reasonable queues, fairly efficient staff, just not that bad in the end. The ferry across the river is cool. As tourists we get to jump the long queue of trucks and only wait 30 minutes, and then suddenly we're in Botswana. Some delays getting some important piece of paper - maybe insurance or something but again much quicker and easier than we had expected. We get into Kasane in good time to stock up on a few groceries and petrol- although we didn't fill the tank - fatal error! And then we're into Chobe National Park. As soon as we get to the riverfront we see heaps of animals- specially elephants, hundreds of them! We also see baboons, kudu, sable antelope, impala and see lions twice - the first eating a smallish dead elephant that we're sure he didn't catch himself, and a pair of lioness with the carcass of a dead sable and all the other sable a few hundred metres away unconcerned with either the lions or their dead cousin. There are a few other vehicles around, and there are lots of tourist boats on the river but it never feels too crowded with people, I guess because we're always well and truly outnumbered by elephants.

Our camp site at Ihaha is gorgeous - close to the river, surrounded by trees and totally private from the other campsites. We have some little monkey friends being super cute and trying to pinch food, even from the fire! Poor things - the bush is so dry and we have luxuries like fresh tomatoes. Our first dinner cooked on a camp fire is excellent (boerewors and potatoes and salad).

We are a little nervous - first night camping in Africa in an unfenced campsite where we've been told that once we go to bed we are not to open the tent until daylight - not for anything! We're all cautious not to drink too much before bed. Overnight we hear jackal and hyaena and all sorts of footsteps which sound like there are herds of creatures stampeding through thecampsite - probably being chased by lions! Fred sleeps soundly and it's only the next morning that I realise he's kept the axe in the tent, just in case.

Tuesday 19 October 2010
Chobe National Park

We start the day very early, up at first light to enjoy the dawn and check the campsitefor footprints - theres been some sort of predator - probably a jackal, and what looks about the right size for mongeese (mongooses?) right up against the tent wall - next to my head! But thankfully no large predator tracks, and all those stampeding antelopewere obviously nowhere near us.

We have to go back to Kasane to refuel (should have filled up yesterday - important lesson!) so we take the main road into town. We're also having some difficultieskeeping the fridge working - the power cable keeps jiggling loose and so we need to get more ice. Away from the river there is not nearly the same density of animals but we do see zebra, giraffe, mongoose, impala and the ubiquitous elephants. I also get a chance to do some of the driving (not risking getting bogged amongst all those elephants). One of the best parts of the day is having a warthog and her babiesfossicking around us in the carpark at the supermarket.

The Route we took:-

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Safari Styles

Safari Styles

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