Victoria Falls

On our Botswana safari, we drove from Chobe National Park to Livingstone, Zambia, to see Victoria Falls. We took a ferry across the Chobe River at the Kasingula to Zambia. At the ferry crossing, one can see four countries: Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls is formed by the Zambezi River flowing over a level piece of basalt in a shallow valley and then drops into a chasm. Victoria Falls is 1700 meters wide and 108 meters tall at its highest point. We visited in April, the peak water flow.

This photo shows the Zambezi River from above the falls, with the broad river stretching far to the right. The large cloud is mist from the falls. Note the rainbow in the mist, just above the river. In the early morning, the sun is rising behind me. I used a circular polarizer to darken the sky and show the mist cloud better.

cloud forms over Victoria Falls from the waterfall mist
cloud forms over Victoria Falls from the waterfall mist (click to enlarge)

Water gushing over the near side of Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls (click to enlarge)

Most of the time, the falls were obscured by the mist from all the falling water.

mist and rainbow at Victoria Falls
mist and rainbow at Victoria Falls

The Victoria Falls Bridge crosses the chasm nearby, and some people pay to bungee jump into the gorge. Look carefully, and you can see a person being hauled up after jumping off the bridge. In 2011 a bungee cord snapped, and a young woman plunged into the river with its many crocodiles. But the safety issues must have been resolved by 2014, and people are still at it.

bungee jumping from Victoria Falls Bridge
bungee jumping from Victoria Falls Bridge

We stayed at a nearby hotel a 10-minute walk upstream from Victoria Falls, which allowed us to visit the Falls many times. The initial photo of this post was taken from the hotel grounds. The hotel employs zebras to help keep the grass short, with the Zambezi River in the background.

zebras keep the grass short
zebras keep the grass short

This vervet monkey climbed up to our second-story balcony.

vervet monkey on our balcony
vervet monkey on our balcony

And on this happy note, our Botswana safari ended, except the 36 hours to fly back to California.

Chobe: Afternoon Game Drive

On our Botswana safari, after the Chobe River cruise, we left the town of Kasane and headed back to Chobe National Park. As we turned on to the highway back to Chobe, this elephant was eating grass next to the road, acting as an advertisement for the park entrance 4 km away. Where does the 8,000 pound elephant eat? Where ever she wants to!

elephant at A33 highway to Chobe
elephant at A33 highway to Chobe

This elephant roaming the highway outside the park reminds me of a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, complaining that the deer are crossing the road where no deer crossing signs are posted, endangering drivers.

Back in the park, a tree of roosting storks next to the Chobe River.

roosting storks
roosting storks

We saw a double rainbow, formed by sunlight reflecting twice through raindrops.

double rainbow
double rainbow

And a rainbow over this impala herd.

male impala, harem, and rainbow
male impala, harem, and rainbow

A pair of red lechwe,

red lechwe
red lechwe

While we were enjoying the antics of dung beetles, the driver of our other truck radioed to tell us about lions. We sped off. We found a pride of contented lions.

lion pride by Chobe River
lion pride by Chobe River
lioness licking cub
lioness licking cub
lioness yawning
lioness yawning

Folks in the other truck have photos of lion cubs with red around their mouths, but we arrived too late to see this.

Fight for a Dung Ball

After our cruise on Botswana’s Chobe River, a highlight of the afternoon game drive was these two dung beetles fighting for a dung ball bigger than either of them.

Dung beetles form and bury dung balls for food for themselves and for their young. A dung beetle can form and roll a dung ball up to ten times its weight.

In this video, an industrious dung beetle rolls away its dung ball, when a second beetle tries to steal it. They fight for the dung ball — serious stuff for a dung beetle.

Chobe River: Buffalo, Crocs, and Hippo

On our Botswana safari, after driving along the Chobe River in the morning, we took a river cruise in the afternoon. From the water we saw more animals than from land, and we were able to approach closer. Here are some larger animals from our cruise.

This cape buffalo wading in the river seemed calmer than ones we encountered on land.

cape buffalo in river
cape buffalo wading in the Chobe River

The Nile crocodile can grow to 6 meters. This crocodile was lounging on the river bank, posing for tourists in the passing boats.

Nile crocodile
Nile crocodile

This crocodile also let our boat approach. This photo was taken with a 400 mm lens, without cropping. The head nearly filled the frame.

Nile crocodile head
Nile crocodile head shot

This crocodile showed us its teeth.

crocodile showing us its teeth
crocodile showing us its teeth

This hippo lounged in the river, providing a resting spot for storks.

storks on hippo
storks on hippo

Chobe River: Nile monitor

On our Botswana safari, after driving along the Chobe River in the morning, we took a cruise on the river in the afternoon. From the water we saw more animals than from land, and we were able to approach closer. During the morning game drive, we saw glimpses of a large lizard rushing away, but we saw the Nile monitor much better during our cruise.

This Nile monitor is walking along the shore, smelling with its extended tongue. The Nile monitor runs fast, climbs trees, and swims.

Nile monitor smelling
Nile monitor smelling

In the following sequence, a Nile monitor is digging in the soft sand, perhaps looking for crocodile eggs.

Nile monitor looking up
Nile monitor looking up
monitor smelling
monitor smelling
Nile monitor digging
Nile monitor digging
monitor looking around again
monitor looking around again

Chobe River: Birds

On our Botswana safari, after driving along the Chobe River in the morning, we took a cruise on the river in the afternoon. From the water we saw more animals than from land, and we were able to approach closer. Here are the birds from our river cruise.

This bee eater (it eats bees) is gorgeous!

white-fronted bee eater
white-fronted bee eater

The African darter and reed cormorant both dive for fish. They sun themselves frequently to dry off between dives. The feathers of the African darter don’t contain oil, so the feathers get waterlogged if they aren’t dried off often. The African darter is also called a snakebird because the head and neck looks like a snake when it swims.

African darter and reed cormorant
African darter and reed cormorant

A pair of water thick-knees walk along the shore.

spotted thick-knee
spotted thick-knee

With its long legs and toes, the African jacana walks on floating lily pads. We also saw them in the Okavango Delta.

African jacana
African jacana

Serondella – Drive Along the Chobe River

On our Botswana safari, we drove along the Chobe River on our first morning in Serondella area of the Chobe National Park. In April we saw a lot of wildlife along the river. Later in the dry season, the animals increase near the river as the surrounding land dries up and the game migrates to the waters of the Chobe River.

In the first light of dawn, these hippos have sunlight reflecting from their ears.

hippo ears in the Chobe River
hippo ears in the Chobe River

Seeking wildlife, we drove on a dirt road covered by the river. See the crocodiles in the river waiting for thirsty animals to drink in the morning.

crocodiles in river
crocodiles in river

And, of course, the obligatory African fish eagle and a lilac-breasted roller.

African fish eagle
African fish eagle
lilac-breasted roller
lilac-breasted roller

Giraffes are vulnerable when they bend over to lick salt or drink.

giraffe licking salt
giraffe licking salt

A large pod of hippos in the Chobe River.

hippos in the Chobe River
hippos in the Chobe River