We spent four nights and three whole days in this exquisite part of Botswana – the Chobe River has a unique charm and enchantment. From sunrise to sunset (and everything inbetween) can be summed up in one word – exceptional.
The town of Kasane is the ‘capital’ of this animal and bird paradise and has sufficient supplies for the hardy traveller. It is, however, rather a dusty old town with the warthogs parading around the Shell petrol station and the elephants greeting travellers at the first robot in the town.
After the first day we all agreed to spend the rest of our Chobe experience in a private boat on the river. After negotiations we came to an arrangement for two separate tariffs – one for the morning, and one for the afternoon – with Walter, the over-eager marketer from Steenbok Safaris who sub-lets the boats at Impala Tours.
These arrangements between operators are distinct to the African continent and I am sure that I will never understand how they function.
On our private boat we had the same tour guide every day, Sha, a native to the Caprivi region (renamed the Zambezi Region 23 years ago after their independence). Sha is a marvellous man with patience and he has a heart of gold. He entertained the kids and had a special way of teaching them new things.
Elana, with the cameras set up on the front of the boat, made herself at home. The camera for the ‘happy-snappies’ was entrusted to me …
Sha and the kids entertained each other for hours. Dirko taught him to count to 10 in Afrikaans and Kyla tried to teach Sha animal facts and behaviours from the book Beat about the Bush. Sha had the stamina and the patience to listen to all their antics even though he probably has enough knowledge and experience to write his own book.
One afternoon Sha caught a snake and pulled it out of the river. He made the kids touch it and feel how slithery it is fresh out of the water. My duties manning the ‘happy-snappie’ camera fortunately gave me an excuse to avoid having to touch the snake!
Elana taught and instructed Sha on how to angle and manoeuvre the boat in order to get the best sunlight for her next photograph. With a ‘hammerhead incoming left’ or a ‘pied kingfisher right’ Sha engrossed himself in Elana’s passion for photography. It was no wonder that Dirko, after getting off the boat on the last day, said farewell to Sha with tears running down his cheek.
There is so much more I could write about this breathtaking experience with my family and Sha on the boat, but there’s simply not enough time. The memories will live on in our minds of a wonderful experience.
For our last evening in Toro Lodge, we decided to go for dinner and festivities at the beautiful Chobe River Lodge.