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JAKARTA - INDONESIA

Stuck in filthy, raining Jakarta for 4 days because a volcano was erupting in the area I was originally planning on visiting. Luckily I found a zoo to visit on the one sunny day I was here.

rain 35 °C

After my 5 days in Borneo, I flew to Jakarta, Indonesia. Jakarta was just supposed to be a one night thing before heading to Yogyakarta to see Borobudur (one of the top things I came to Indonesia to see), but as it turns out, Mt Kelut was erupting in that area!! No flights were being allowed to land or take off, over 100,000 people had been evacuated, and everything was covered in 2 inches of ash! So I canceled my flight and was stuck in filthy Jakarta for 4 days days rather than just one!!

I found a hotel in Jakarta on Expedia, but decided to not book it, but rather to just show up without a reservation and hopefully get an even better rate. My plan failed. The Expedia rate was $32 ... the rate I was quoted by just arriving was $98!!!! How can Expedia be less than half the price?! So I stood there in front of the desk clerk, whipped out my phone, and proceeded to book a room on Expedia at the cheaper rate. Then we stood there staring at eachother while he waited for my reservation to come through in his system, lol! Awkward.

The hotel was called NEO Tendean, and was awesome! Super modern, everything wonderfully clean, great staff, etc. My only complaint is that the one & only restaurant had a very limited menu of only spicy food. But other than that it was a great place to be stuck for 4 days. And again, I forgot to take photos of it. The views from my room on the other hand ... well, have a look and see.
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That river looked like the kind of river you'd see a dead body floating by in. But it was nice to be able to see into local life and take photos through my window without walking through the neighborhood like a tourist with my camera.
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Of the 4 days I was stuck here, 3 of them rained :( On my one sunny day, I headed to Ragunan Zoo. I thought that cab ride there was going to cost a fortune because it took at least 30min. But it was only $5 CAD :) And admission to the zoo was only 4500 Rupiah ($0.40!!!) I have no idea how they manage to pay the employees and feed all the animals with only 40 cents admission!! The zoo was HUGE! SO many animals, each with their own keepers / handlers.

The first thing I saw upon entering the gates, was a pond area full of massive pelicans! We have pelicans in Canada, but they're only about 1/3 of the size of these ones!! And I just loved the colors on their faces!
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At the gate you get a map, which is not in English, so good luck to you. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was there from 9am until closing time and only saw half of it!! So be sure to wear good shoes. I made the mistake of wearing flip flops, and my feet were killing me by the end of the day. There are few signs, which are also not in English (but that is to be expected, as I'm not at home any more, I dont expect the whole world to have everything in English just for me). But the signs usually had a photo as well, so a sign with a photo of a tiger should mean "tigers this way!" I made a bee-line to the tigers, cuz they are my favorite of the large cats, and I'd never seen one before!
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They're so cute, and orange, and stripey :)
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Yawning tiger
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He just wants a belly rub like all kitties :)
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Pooping tiger, lol!
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Grooming himself
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He looks like he's scheming on how to eat me for lunch!
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The bigger animals, like the tigers, lions, elephants, komodos, etc, were NOT in cages. They were in a 'pit' with a 'moat' around it. So people can be eye level with the animals, and dont have to worry about stupid cage bars obscuring their view, but are still safe because of the moat (which was about 15-20ft deep, and 10-15ft across). Here is a photo of an elephant in his enclosure so you can see what I mean. (Its alot deeper than it looks, but the foliage is filling it up).
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Asian Elephants look very different from their African cousins. I think they are actually quite homely looking compared to African Elephants. They have small droopy ears, rather than the huge open ears of their cousins. They also have hollow faces, 2 big bumps on tops of their heads, and are alot smaller. Here's a photo of an Asian elephant, followed by an African elephant I photographed in South Africa last year so you can see the difference.

Asian Elephant
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African Elephant - much more beautiful in my opinion. Those big ears make all the difference :)
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Elephant tail. The 'hair' is very wiry, and there were places selling bracelets made of elephant tail hair!
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Elephant foot
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And my favorite ... elephant trunk.
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Next up were the Malayan Sun Bears. My first time seeing a bear! I live in Canada, and apparently theres bears here, but I've never seen one.
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There were alot of orangutan enclosures throughout the park. I got to see a male orang which had the massive (and ugly) cheek pads. I'm very thankful I got to see orangutans in the wild in Borneo before seeing them here, because they are SO FAT in the zoo! Morbidly obese actually! Poor thing is so fat it cant even close its legs!!
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Male with its cheek pads. They should not be flopping over like that ... thats extra fat as well. And that 'bag' of fat hanging from his neck ... also not supposed to be there, all fat!!!
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It looks like he's giving me the finger, but he's really just holding up his fat face, lol!
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I came across another orangutan enclosure with another alpha male. His cheek pads were more normal sized, but look at those dreadlocks!!
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There are signs everywhere indicating not to feed the animals, but stupid tourists still throw cheezies to them. No wonder they are fat!
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Look at this thing! Doesnt it look like a man in a Sasquatch costume, lol?!
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Strange looking creatures thats for sure!
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So flexible!
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There were a few deer (not sure what kind) that were wandering around freely. But when they spotted me, they froze,and watched my every move.
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This racoon looks like he had a rough night, LOL!
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I walked around, and when I came back to the racoon he had switched to this position, hahaha!
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Black Tonkean Macaque
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Silver Leaf Monkey
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Gibbon
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Bintorang, aka Asian Bear Cat
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I'm not sure what kind of little antelope this was, cuz the sign was in Indonesian. But it was so tiny I could have held it in one hand!
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Within the zoo, there is a separate Primate Enclosure housing gorillas, more orangutans, chimps, and a variety of smaller monkeys. It has its own admission price of 6000 Rupiah (only $0.55). I walked around in that enclosure for at least an hour searching for the chimps & gorillas, but I just couldnt find them! Oh, I found their enclosures alright, but it was so big, with so many trees, that I probably walked right past them without seeing them. Theres even a skywalk / boardwalk thing up high so you can look down at them. Finally when I was about to give up I found 2 massive gorillas!!!
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They are seriously huge! Much, much bigger than a human! Taller, and twice as broad as a football player!!
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'Zoolander' gorilla giving me his best 'blue steal' pose
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I never realized how flat their faces were!
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Look how big his head is!!
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And last, but not least ... Komodo Dragons! These guys were another of my top reasons I chose to visit Indonesia. But now for my predicament ... I wanted my first Komodo sighting to be of wild dragons, not in a zoo! In a few days time I would be flying to Flores to go houseboating in Komodo National Park and hopefully see some Komodos in the wild ... but what if I didnt see any in the wild, and had passed on seeing them in the zoo?! I'd go home not seeing any! I've had such bad luck with wildlife in the past (going cage diving with Great Whites ... but not seeing any sharks; going whale watching ... and not seeing any whales), that in the end I decided to see them in the zoo.
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THEY WERE SO BIG!!! 9ft long! Like a massive black iguana, that walks like a crocodile, with a tongue like a snake!
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One good thing about deciding to see them in the zoo, is that I happened to arrive at feeding time!
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Their handler whistled and they came lumbering over like little dinosaurs. Just like dogs looking for a treat!
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Bird? What bird? I dont know what your talking about.
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I always thought Komodo Dragons were venomous, but all that slobber you see is not venom. Komodos actually have so much bacteria in their salivia, that one bite from a Komodo can kill by infection!
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Look how thick that tail is!!! It was as thick as my thigh!
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The handler and his pet dragon :)
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Thats all for Jakarta. I had one more day here, but it rained again. So in 4 days, all I got to do was visit the zoo.

Posted by ChantelleS 15:35 Archived in Malaysia Tagged wildlife indonesia elephant zoo city animal dragon tiger asia bear orangutan komodo Comments (0)

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK, BOTSWANA

Chobe River boat cruise & Chobe NP camping Safari. April 3rd & 4th, 2013

overcast 27 °C

I was staying in Livingstone, Zambia and had booked a 2 day \ 1 night camping safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana. Livingstone is approx 45-60min from the Zambia \ Botswana border. I booked it online prior to arriving in Africa through Kalahari Tours. It was $234US, and included pickup at my hotel in Livingstone, transportation to the border, an escort to help me through customs \ border crossing & get visas (if you know you will be exiting / re-entering Zambia during your stay, purchase a multi-entry visa for $80, rather than 2 single entry visas for $50 each), I was then introduced to a rep from Kalahari Tours on the Botswanan side and led to a ferry that crossed the Zambezi River, where I then met my Game Ranger who made sure I got on the correct safari vehicle. I'm sure if I'd attempted all that on my own, I would've been lost! Also included was a riverboat cruise on the Chobe River, then lunch at a lodge, and an afternoon game drive, tenting accomodation, all meals, and 2 more game drives on day 2 before being brought back to the border, and back to my hotel.

When taking the ferry from Zambia to Botswana across the Zambezi River, there is a point on the river where 4 countries meet ... Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe & Namibia. So for a brief moment I was in 4 countries at the same time :)

After a quick breakfast at a lodge, myself and others on the camping trip, were led to the river where we boarded a double decker pontoon boat for a cruise along the Chobe River.
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Elephants were absolutely everywhere! Every bend in the river was home to yet another herd of elephants. It was incredible to watch them coming out of the trees \ hills to drink from the river, and play in the water :)
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Adorable baby elephant!!
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I saw a total of 4 pods of hippos chillin' in the river! I LOVE hippos!
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Mama & adorable baby hippo :)
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More elephants ...
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Charging elephant
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Pooping elephant, lol!
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Cormorant
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Baby croc
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Nile Crocodile
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"Monster" tree
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I wish I had been on a smaller boat like the 1 in this photo ... look how close they got to these impalas!
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Fighting ellies!
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Sniffing the air for danger
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Another charging elephant
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After the 3hr riverboat cruise, we stopped for lunch at a lodge. Afterwards we switched to an open-air safari vehicle for a 3hr game drive through Chobe National Park.
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Giraffe snuggles :)
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Impala ... "Who's on my bum?"
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THIS is the photo I came to Africa to get!!! More than anything, I wanted to see a giraffe bending down awkwardly ... and I got TWO of them, plus the 2 matching giraffes in the background! I couldnt have choreographed it better :)
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A herd of giraffes is called a 'journey of giraffes'
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Adorable baby giraffe :)
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We got REALLY close to a herd of elephants! Uncomfortably close!
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Poke ... this little ellie kept bugging the other one to play
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Here he's nudging the other one, lol! He even ended up sitting on top of the other one! He just wanted someone to play with!
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Love this one!
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Peek-a-boo!
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My favorite elephant photo!
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Baby elephant trying to suckle
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Dung Beetle
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My game ranger, Sinka, holding a Leopard Tortoise
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Dragonfly on someone's hat
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Puku - a type of antelope I never knew existed! Looks very similar to an impala, but its bigger and furrier.
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One of the hi-lights of the day was finding this lion eating a warthog!!!!!!
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We were only a few feet away! So close I could hear bones crunching and guts squishing! Totally disgusting, yet totally awesome at the same time!
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We later came across a 2nd lion ... this one wasnt all bloodied up
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Traffic in Chobe
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Impala
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Around 5pm we drove down to the shores of the Chobe River to watch all the animals come for a sundowner. The first animals to show up were a troop of baboons.
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A young baboon playing with elephant poo
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Adorable baby baboon! Look at those big ears!
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Baby baboon playing with a rock
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Mama & youngster drinking from the Chobe River
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Then some giraffes showed up at the river
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Fighting giraffes!
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Chobe River
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Male kudu
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Egyptian Goose
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Sunset over the Chobe River
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After the sun set we drove to our camp. There were 8 tents set up in a semi-circle, and 18 camp chairs set in a circle around the campfire. I assumed supper would be hotdogs & hamburgers, but the game rangers-turned-cooks made us beef stroganoff, steamed veggies and dessert.
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Sleeping in a tent alone was scary ... it is NOT quiet at night! Nocturnal birds, animals & insects could be heard all night long!
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At 12:30am I had to pee. But since I was alone, I didnt have anyone to watch my back as I walked to the bush toilet, aka pit latrine. I shone my flashlight all around a few times, looking for any eyes glowing in the dark! When I didnt see any I quickly just peed beside my tent as fast as I could, and then jumped back in! And no joke, no sooner had I climbed back into my sleeping bag, I heard a lion roar!!!! I nearly crapped my pants! I was JUST outside and there was a lion nearby! The camp was not fenced, so anything could wander past my tent! I also heard an elephant trumpet, and something lumbered past my tent! I think I slept 1hr total, lol!
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Bush shower
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Good morning ... I survived the night!
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The morning game drive began at 6:30am. Unfortunately the 1st 3hrs were very quiet. We saw a few impala & warthogs, and lots of birds, but no big game til later in the morning.
Lilac-breasted Roller - Botswana's national bird
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Vulture
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Guinea Fowl, aka 'Chobe Chicken'
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Warthog
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Kneeling down to eat
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Ox Pecker eating ticks off of an imapala
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The excitement began when our ranger got a call about a male lion sighting! He put pedal to the metal and raced across the park to get us to the lion before he disappeared into the bush! We raced 'Dukes of Hazard' style, swerving around corners on the sandy roads, and flying over bumps, lol, it was so much fun ... and we got there in time. There was 1 male and 2 females relaxing by a tree. When we neared, the male went into 'pounce' position. That was a tad nerve racking cuz he was within 8ft of our open-air vehicle!
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There was a buffalo that the lions were following, but nothing ever happened. We were hoping to see some action.
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There was a herd of impala across the road, and every single one of them had their eyes on those lions! They were so focused on those lions that they didnt even pay us any attention! But whichever impala takes its eyes off those lions would probably end up their lunch!
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Impala bum
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Fish Eagle
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Nile Crocodile
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Martial Eagle eating a mongoose ... can you see the mongoose's tail hanging down?
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Warthog in a mud wallow
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He was enjoying rolling around in his very own mud bath
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3ft long Monitor Lizard
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Cape Buffalo & Cattle Egret
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We parked near the Chobe River and watched a herd of 250 Cape Buffalo swim across.
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There were 3 crocs lurking in the water waiting for a straggler! As the last baby buffalo crossed the river, a croc attacked and killed it :( The saddest part was that the momma buffalo stood at the water's edge mooing/calling for her baby long after the rest of the herd had moved on!
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Ox Peckers eating ticks off of a buffalo's back
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We came across this lone buffalo sleeping beside the river (not the smartest place for a snooze considering all the crocodiles lurking in the river), with a pesky cattle egret & ox pecker bothering him.
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Pied Kingfisher
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Beautiful Chobe River
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Thats all for Botswana! I then headed back into Zambia for a few more nights before flying to South Africa. That will be in the next post.

Posted by ChantelleS 16:00 Archived in Botswana Tagged boat wildlife elephant tree river africa safari animal crocodile camping buffalo lion botswana baboon impala kudu warthog Comments (0)

LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA

Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Lion Encounter, Elephant-back Safari, and Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park. April 2nd -7th, 2013

sunny 30 °C

I began my 3 week journey through Africa in Livingstone, Zambia. I stayed at the Chrismar Hotel for 5 nights. The hotel was fantastic. Free breakfast & wifi were included. There was a nice pool area with a swim-up bar.
My zebra-printed room
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The bathroom
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Outdoor breakfast area
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Pool area
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My hotel was only about a 10min drive to Africa's largest & most powerful waterfall ... Victoria Falls! It cost $20US for admission. I went alone, and felt completely safe. There were lots of tourists, and well marked paths. You cant get lost.
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There were raincoats to rent for $1US
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I didnt actually get wet though. There are definitely lookout spots where you can get soaked if thats what you want, but if you are like me and hate water and are carrying an expensive camera, there are ways to stay completey dry as well.
Just dont cross this bridge if you want to stay dry! Theres SO much mist its like being in a shower! It was actually too much mist, and blocked most of the waterfall. I was actually a tad disappointed cuz there really wasnt too much to see, except mist. Beyond this bridge is the falls, but you cant even see them :( The waterfall is 5604ft wide, but you really only see 1/8 of it.
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There was another bridge that spanned the gorge. People were bungee jumping from it. The left side is Zambia, and the right side is Zimbabwe.
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Even though it was spring time in Canada, it was autumn in Zambia :)
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People had told me there would be baboons everywhere, but I didnt see any for the first 2hrs. I remember thinking "I havent seen a single baboon yet!", and then I happened upon this one sleeping right on the path!! No sooner had I thought that, and a troop of baboons came out of the bushes all around me! They can be quite aggressive if you have food, so just keep all your snacks in your bag until you leave the area ... unless you wanna be mugged by a baboon, lol!
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Cheeky baboon :)
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Baboon chillin' on a bench. He wasnt moving. He owned this bench, lol!
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Afterwards I went to the Royal Livingstone Hotel for lunch. The views were beautiful of the Zambezi River, looking across to Zimbabwe. The mist in the background is where the river drops 354ft and becomes Victoria Falls! If you like fancy food & high prices, then its a nice place to stop for lunch. If not, dont bother stopping there as everything is over-priced!
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My next adventure was at Lion Encounter ... I walked with lions!! I booked the Lion Walk and an Elephant-back Safari as a pkg through Jollyboys for $263US. Expensive, but worth the experience! The price included pickup & dropoff at my hotel, and juice\coffee\tea & biscuits.
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Lion Encounter rehabilitates wounded and orphaned lions and eventually releases them back into the wild. Before the walk we were given a saftey\rules briefing. The lions arent tame, but they arent completely wild either. So everyone was given a stick, which was to be used as an extension of the arm. Not to hit the lions with, but to distract them with if they walk your way ... you just tap it on the ground in front of the lion and they swat at it instead of your face!
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The lions are free to roam around Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park. No cages. 5min of walking and we came across 3 lions. Two 1yr old cubs, and a young male not old enough to have a mane yet. The 2 young ones were so adorable to watch play and wrestle! One would bite his brother's tail, so then the brother would bite the other's ear, lol! And then they'd roll around wrestling.
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Sluuuurp!!
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There were 4 guides accompanying us ... one in front, one behind, and one on each side.
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Later the same day I went on the Elephant-back Safari.
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Me and my elephant, Mashumbi
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It was incredible standing face to face with such a massive animal!
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Giving Mashumbi treats
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The 'safari' was more just an elephant ride than an actual safari, cuz I only saw 1 giraffe veeeeeeeeeeeery far away. It was also incredibly uncomfortable \ border-line painful. Even though you sit on padding, after 15min your legs hurt from straddling a huge elephant, and your butt hurts, and you get a never-ending wedgie, lol! I wouldnt do it again because of that, but I'm very glad I did do it. How many times do you get to ride an African Elephant?! After the ride Mashumbi knelt down for me to sit on her knee. I was to get my photo taken, and then feed her treats, but she was impatient and wanted her treats right away. Heres a photo of her trying to get her trunk into my treat bag, and me peeking over her trunk for my photo op, lol!
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And then ducking under for another photo! This is my fave photo from the day :)
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My last day in Zambia I had time for an early morning game drive in Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park before flying to Johannesburg, South Africa.
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The park is very small. The safari was only about 2hrs long. There was quite a wide variety of wildlife, but the animals were all a bit too far away for decent photos. If you only have a few days in Livingstone, I would recommend a day trip, or overnight trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana, which is only 40min away from Livingstone. The quantity & quality of the animal sightings there are phenomenal! But that will be a whole other blog post :)

The park runs along the Zambezi River.
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That 'cloud' is not a cloud. It is the mist from Victoria Falls! The mist could be seen from nearly anywhere in town.
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Family of ellies :)
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Herd of buffalo on the road
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Baby bufflao
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Baboon in the morning light.
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Zebras, my fave animal :)
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Nile Croocdile on the riverbank
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My very first rhino sighting ... ever! I was in Kenya 2yrs ago and didnt see any at all! So I was quite excited to see this guy!!
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While staying in Zambia I spent 2 days on a camping safari across the border in Botswana, but that will be in the next blog post :)

Posted by ChantelleS 13:59 Archived in Zambia Tagged wildlife elephant waterfall africa zambia lion Comments (0)

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