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Searching for the Source


Reader trip report

In 2011 we decided that we wanted a holiday with a difference, and the plan was to search for the source of the Zambezi River. After much more planning, we left from Pretoria one morning in late October, to travel via Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.

The first night was spent at Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Botswana; a lovely place to camp, but unfortunately we saw no rhino. The next morning we departed for Kubu Island: a rocky outcrop in the middle of the Makgadikgadi pans, which form a huge salt lake: the remnants of an ancient inland sea.

The temperature in the shade of a leafless Baobab tree was 49° C. The intense dry heat was so fierce one could feel one’s brains being fried, and a decision was made to move at once to our next planned stop: Elephant Sands. In hindsight, not a good decision. The roads were poor, the going slow. We should have stopped and camped next to the road, but we pushed on, arriving after dark. Elephant Sands was so named because of all the elephants that came nightly to drink from the pool next to the dining area: a truly unique sight.

Unfortunately, there had been an incident some weeks before when certain elephants had taken exception to the fact that a baby elephant had fallen into the pool. The elephants had trashed the pool, the campsite and parts of the lodge, nearly killing Ben, the owner, in the process. Now the elephants had placed a ban on visiting the place, so there were no elephants at dinnertime for us.

The next morning we left for Kasane, next to Chobe Game Reserve. It seemed like a good idea to go on a sunset cruise, and we spent much time shopping around; to discover that although prices differed enormously, most operators were using the same boat. We settled for the best price, and then proceeded to find a place to spend the night before returning for the cruise – which was worth every penny we’d spent. Really a wonderful experience.

When we left Kasane, the decision was made to spend more money and pay the huge fees required to drive through the park along the Chobe River. Another success story, as this really was one of the highlights of the trip; animals were coming from behind every tree and bush to drink from the river.

After entering Namibia, we decided to stock up with fuel and supplies in Katima Mulilo. As this took up most of the day, we spent the night there – at the very good campsite which was neat and clean. As the weather was still extremely hot, most of the evening was spent in the swimming pool.

The next morning, we entered Zambia – not an easy country to get into. The procedure can be likened to escaping a fire in a nightclub; if you are quick and agile (a smile on your face helps) you can be first out of the door; but, if not, you will be trampled in the process.