I took one of the best showers of my life at Nata Lodge. We are talking top five for sure, like that shower you take after running your first half marathon or after Slope Day at Cornell in the pouring rain. Nata Lodge, coincidently located in Nata, Botswana, has adorable and spacious lodges with HUGE outdoor showers with HUGE and high overhead rainforest shower heads, EXCELLENT shower pressure and an ABUNDANCE of hot water. Five stars. Come for the salt pans, but stay for the shower.
On to more pressing matters, like our final safari stop in Kasane, Botswana before heading back to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (spoiler: that Kaza visa is straight up useless if you stay overnight in Botswana, so just suck it up, buy a new visa, and consider it a donation for all the gorgeous wildlife you’ve seen).
Up and early to get to Chobe National Park before the gates opened at 6:00am, similar to rope dropping at Disneyland but let’s face it, safari in Africa is actually way cooler. Bundled up in our open Land Rover, we started out. Ninja and our new local guide scoped out lion tracks in the sand, we drove along the Chobe river and took in the gorgeous landscape. The morning excitement came again with lions, two large males, this time up close and personal. Two large males were tracking along the road, with only a few safari vehicles tagging along. They were moving along, one stopped and laid down next to the trucks, including ours. And then the fun began, they starting vocalizing and calling. They weren’t necessarily hunting, but calling for their family. They paid us no mind as they moved along the road and then in front of our vehicle, getting louder and vocalizing more frequently. Super cool.
We parked in a field and waited to see if they would come out again once they wandered into the brush. They didn’t emerge but they continued to call, which was awesome. We then went over to a picnic spot for bush coffee. We were allowed to walk around, there was a huge group of baboons hanging out (because, duh, humans equals snacks). Ninja told us the baboons in Vic Falls target women with bags (like plastic groceries bags) and grab the bags because, duh, food and they have learned women are less “intimidating” than human men. Sexist primates. Anyways, I enjoyed my coffee with the monkeys. Many were playing or grooming each other. Some lounging. Some were, well, as Ninja said “making more monkeys” if you get my drift (I think you do).
After rest and relaxation, in which I laid by the lodge pool and casually watched warthogs walk on by, we did our final sunset cruise on the Chobe River, also part of Chobe National Park. In contrast to a morning of few (but memorable) animal sightings, our cruise was packed. Soooo many crocodiles, from cute and petite to huge and imposing. Herds of buffalo and water buck, we could view close from the boat. Grazing hippos on land. And elephants, so many! Elephants playing and rolling in the mud. Elephants using their trunks as a snorkel to cross the river right in front of us. A massive herd all crossing the river together. And of course, a final gorgeous sunset with a cold glass of rose in hand.
We stayed in the Old House lodge in Kasane, which has a great back story. When Chobe National Park was set up in 1968, people from the large saw milling settlement to be relocated. The “Old House” was built from old settlement bricks once people were moved. When we were on safari, our guide pointed out the crumbling foundation of a house, smack in the middle of the park. Apparently, one person, William “Pop” Lamont, refused to relocate for the new national park. Instead, he loaded his shotgun with two bullets and stood his ground at his home, proclaiming one bullet for anyone who tried to take his house and then one bullet for himself. That man was not moving, not for lions, not for nobody. He never left his house, and spent his remaining days in the Chobe National Park. When he died in 1974, he was buried in the park just outside his house, and his house was simply left to ruin over time.