The past week I visited Chobe National Park. It is situated in the northeast corner of Botswana, along the Chobe river. Chobe Safari Lodge where I stayed. A beautiful lodge on the edge of the Chobe River.
Each day, we would drive along this small stretch of road between Kasane and the park entrance. The national park is fenced in certain areas, but animals can be found outside its boundaries, in close proximity to the town, and sometimes in it! At our lodge, there were several warthogs that would use the lawns for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the sprinklers for bath time.
Certain African countries do not permit "self drive" safaris, where an individual can take their own vehicle into the national park. Thankfully, Botswana is not one of them!! Assuming that you have a decent 4x4 and stay on the main roads, it is perfectly safe. In this National Park it is mandatory to stay on the assigned dirt roads and is only open to the public between 6am-6pm. This may be constraining in some ways, as certain animals are next to invisible during this 12 hour period, but in other ways it is very liberating. If and when you do find some wildlife, you have the ability to switch off your engine, sit in peace, and enjoy the wild.
During the 5 day stay, I was able to do 5 game drives and 2 boat safaris. The highlight of the trip was by far the elephants. Chobe is nicknamed the Land of the Giants because of its enormous population, estimated at 120,000 elephants in 11,000 square kilometres. There were a variety of herds: bachelors, solitary males, breedings groups. The breeding groups are certainly the most animated, playing with one another, particularly with the young calves. There were lots of young and adolescent elephants, and even a few newborns.
Driving back one afternoon, just before turning into Kasane, we saw a herd of about 20 elephants on the side of the road. They were huddled around a pipe that was spraying water. For some reason this section of the pipe ran above ground. It was hard to tell if they had be drawn to the pipe that was already leaking, or if they were the culprits and had in fact broken the pipe to get to the water. I wouldn't put is past them if were the latter.
Elephants can sense where water deposits are buried and are often seen digging with their feet to get at the water in the moist sand. They are very clever as well. They will dig up large seeds buried under ground and will drop them continually on the ground to knock off any dirt or small stones, to protect their molars when chewing. When they rip roots out of the ground, both on land and in the water, they will shake them repeatedly with their trunk to remove any soil, ensuring that they ingest only what they truly want.
This was another fantastic week, immersed in another one of Africa's gems. It can be difficult to switch back and forth constantly between photo and video…primarily because I'm only using 1 camera....but I find it more productive to dedicate a significant chunk of time to either, and explore and exhaust the various ideas and techniques to capture the emotion and essence of the location.
This week was dedicated to the still image.