We waited around for ten minutes, and eventually managed to find our driver. It was a large van with a dozen or so others, but we were to drive to the border and then split into two vehicles. Now, it wasn’t clear when we booked if you could go straight from Zambia to Botswana without crossing into Zimbabwe, but apparently the answer is no. This was a mild concern since while it was easy to get a multi-entry visa to Zambia, Zimbabwe only issued dual-entry…so we had to be careful how many times we went in and out, since a new visa would cost.
Pulled up to the border, exited Zambia no problems, and into Zimbabwe just as easy. While the Zambian immigration was pleasant, the folks on the Zimbabwe side were downright rude. Oh well, at least the Zimbabwe visa was a cool sticker, while Zambia was just a stamp with “multi” written below it, lol. I could have done that myself! Through the border, we had about one hour to drive to the lodge.
We stayed at the Chobe Marina Lodge in Kasane, Botswana. First impressions were pretty good. Check-in was efficient, they walked us to our room without asking for a tip, and overall the property was pretty nice. Certainly not luxury, but clean, comfortable, etc. Can’t ask for too much more. We had to rush, however, because the evening safari cruise was about to leave, and if we wanted to go we had about five minutes to dump things in the room and be out there! We were only there two days, so wanted to be sure that we got in as much as possible!
Last ones on the boat, and away we went. The cruise was a bit over two hours, and a great relaxing intro to things. First off, the obligatory impala shot. It’s the first thing you see on safari, and probably the last. They’re everywhere, and you can tell the people on their first time out because they excitedly snap pictures of them!
Further along the river, we saw some of our first elephants:
Saw several crocodiles at this point as well, but none were quite close enough for a really good picture. However, we were really lucky to get near a group of hippos…little did we know a couple days later we would get even closer!
As the cruise wound down, we were treated to the first of many amazing African sunsets:
After the cruise, we headed back to the lodge’s bar for a couple of drinks before dinner. This was our first encounter with the fierce African mosquitos, and not lots of fun. Thank God for the malaria meds, no matter how much repellent we put on, they were out of control! After drinks, we headed to dinner. The package at the lodge included room, three meals, and two game activities a day, so we were curious to see what kind of meal was included. Unsurprisingly, I guess, it was a buffet.
Fortunately, the first night was “BBQ night” and there was tons of great grilled meat to choose from. Kudu, lots of sausages, chicken, it was actually really good. Add in the fact that the wine was quite reasonably priced, and overall the first impression of the lodge was quite good. It was off to bed pretty much right after dinner, since the morning game drive left at 6am!