March 18: Camp Moremi -> Chobe Game Lodge
After breakfast, we got a small aircraft (Cessna 208) to Chobe Game Lodge. Once we got up to four or five thousand feet elevation, our cellphones started binging as they received accumulated text messages and emails – there’s better cell service up in the air. After checking in, we had lunch on the outdoor dining area. This is a large lodge, all in brown stucco, concrete walls, floors, archways, and walkways. It had outdoor dining and lounge areas, a grand ambiance, with many staff eager to please, like a Ritz Carlton in the desert.
We took an electric boat ride on the Chobe River, which flows into the mighty Zambezi River. It was very quiet compared with the 2-cycle outboards common there, but slow-moving, with a wide deck on which we sat in rattan chairs. Our guide was Monica, who is quite personable and knowledgeable, as well as a good driver. The river flows in either direction depending on the season and rainfall.
Large groups of elephants came down to the river to drink and play in the water. There were several babies and mothers. We saw several hippopotamuses both in and out of the water, a couple of giraffes, a crocodile, African fish eagles, guinea hens. A large group of baboons came down to play on the bank and in the trees. After G&T’s at sunset, we returned for dinner.
We finally got good mobile service, so we talked with our travel agent, Chris, of Piper & Heath, who counseled strongly that we go home ASAP. The international travel situation was changing rapidly, countries were closing their borders, flights cancelled, etc. We had wanted to continue the trip, but decided to cut it short and go home. We booked flights through Johannesburg to San Francisco via South African Airways and United for Friday, the 20th.