Chobe River. Chobe National Park. Ichobezi Houseboat.

The next morning wiith our bikes parked safely at the Chobe Safari Lodge, a small “tender” boat with a 40hp engine met us at the Botswana Immigration office and ushered us ten minutes across the Chobe River where we hiked up a muddy track to a tiny one room shack filled with a collection of scattered documents, carbon paper and rubber stamps. Officially back in Namibia and with two more stamps in our passports we ten boarded the Ichobezi Moli, a houseboat of 18 meters with four large twin cabins, a bar, entertainment deck a small plunge pool and a staff eager to ensure we enjoy our mobile water-based safari adventure.

IMG_3698_2.jpg Chobe National Park could be one of the most rarely visited parks in Africa yet it offers much of the wildlife of the major tourist attractions. As such it’s relatively quiet. A handful of lodges along the Botswana riverfront provide the gamut in accommodation from four-star luxury to backpacker and camping facilities.

Offered a welcome drink we waited for the other passengers who would join us for our river cruise: Chris and Pauline, a couple from Germany traveling with Jeanette, Pauline’s stepmother, a representative from a South African travel association and Christina and Kirsty, two representatives from U.K.-based adventure travel agency. As we cruised up river we were blessed by mild weather and a gentle breeze that swayed the reeds of the lake shore. Behind us four “tenders” were in tow which later when anchored we used to get closer to wildlife grazing in Chobe National Park including elephants, buffalo, impala, fish eagles, herons, crocodile and more.

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As we cruised up river we passed Sududu Island as Ralph painted a dynamic word picture of the battle between Namibia and Botswana as to which of these southern Africa nations should duly rule over this tiny patch of reeds with ambling elephants, impala and temporary home to migratory birds. Narrowly averting war the issue, and perhaps the only of its kind, was handled democratically and judicially by international court in the Hague. Botswana won. And today they proudly fly the flag on a lonely pole in the middle of this swampy grassland.

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Audi – Fish Eagle – goes in for the attack.

Ronnie and the rest of the passengers devised a plan and elected me as chief whereby I would swim pass the crocodiles, hippos and impalas and replace the flag with Namibia’s proud colors. Avoiding an international incident I suggested a Canadian flag would be more appropriate. But with lunch served the idea was quickly shelved.

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Bliss on the Chobe River

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Thirsty the hippos go for a drink riverside.

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Nothing like seeing these massive creatures drink whilst standing in water.

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This riding around Africa on a motorcycle is just to much for Ronnie B. as he sips his G&T on the deck of the Ichobezi Moli

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The meals and dining experience on the Moli were unlike any I’ve had on a small boat.

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Up close and personal with the wildlife.

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Full moon on the Chobe River.

The slow pace of the Ichobez Moli meant that you hardly noticed the drone of the boat’s engine so that it didn’t disturb the wildlife. Quite a contrast to my other “safari” adventures at Addo in South Africa, Etosha in Namibia and Moremi in Botswana, riding on the river brings you closer to the animals and free from gravel, dust, other tourists the seeming isolation creates a sense of awe and a feeling that you are wallowing with the animals. Each of the crew of the Moli are trained as wildlife guides and they are all equally competent in spotting animals an untrained eye would easily miss.

Passing With the distant sound of hyenas, the occasional yelping elephant and the simmering and soothing sound of the river lapping on the hull of the boat, I slept on the Chobe River and in the morning waking to the hectic hustle and bustle of birds fishing for food, crocodiles bathing in the sun and elephants playing “chicken” with impalas. But sadly this experience too had to pass. We took a slow cruise back to the Namibian border post and then through Botswana immigration where we met our bikes and prepared for a short ride across the Zambian border and onto Livingstone and Victoria Falls.

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