Caprivi Strip, 2014 Part 10

by david on April 8, 2015

POZ to Camp Chobe

 

First off, the dead elephant / lion viewing was a complete and total bust. The only thing I accomplished by getting up early was having the coffee pot to myself for a while. The wind had gotten up tremendously during the night and probably kept the smell of the elephant from heading overland and attracting scavengers. At least that is what my nose was currently telling me. The two girls from Germany joined me about half way through cup of coffee number two, I got to know them a little better. One was an MD and the other was an engineer. They were obviously smart, but after conversing with them for a while I found them to be well rounded and nice young ladies.

After breakfast it was time to bid our shipmates farewell and head to Camp Chobe, where we would be meeting up with Johann, Vera and Zoe Veldsman. It would be good to see everyone again. Johann makes it to the states on an annual basis, and I get to visit with him as we do hunting trade shows. Zoe’s school year starts about the same time as the trade show season, so she and Vera do not get to come over. As a result, I have not seen either one of them in two years. Byron Hart is the new factor in the equation. He and Johann have been friends for years, but I first met him at when he came along for a few of the trade shows last year. He and I got along well, and this promised to be a good hunt. First we had to get there.

As soon as we got away from the leeward side of the POZ, the wind smacked us like a wet towel. There were white caps everywhere. With each bounce of the launch’s bow, spray blew back into the boat and onto us and our luggage. At normal cruising speed, the trip would be about 30 minutes. With the wind whipping the water into a frenzy, our speed had to be greatly reduced and we were looking at least an hour if not longer. This was going to be one of those rides where your internal organs end up getting completely rearranged by the constant pounding. The river is not too wide at first but soon it broadens out and the whitecaps get worse. The rhythm becomes bounce, drop, innards jostle, splash, bounce, drop, innards jostle, and splash. The small launch that had been so great in getting us up close to the animals was now our worst adversary.

Roughly two thirds of the way to our destination, in between trying to soften the bumps and avoid the spray Victor abruptly cut the throttle and did a U-turn in the middle of the river. After Janice and I righted ourselves, he said, “Sorry about that but I just thought about another option for Namibian customs”. There was another border crossing post, which, if open on a Sunday, would be less crowded. As it turned out, Victor’s idea was a capitol one. Other than the one border agent, we were the only other people around. It was one of the quickest African border crossings ever. I could only hope the other three we had to go through that day were as efficient and painless. After another 20 minutes of bumps and intermittent showers, we would be back in Botswana. Once again, the “border-crossing gods” were with us. After we bid Victor farewell, we were back in the “Fish Eagle’s Nest” van and heading towards Camp Chobe to meet up with the rest of our party.

It turned out that the entrance to Camp Chobe is only about a mile past the Namibian border. Three quarters of a mile after that, we were at the camp. Camp Chobe is made up of canvas structures. The main lodge and the individual tents are post and beam construction, with wooden floors surrounded by canvas walls and roof. The tents are all elevated to about six to eight feet above the ground. One can only assume the height helps cut down on unwanted four legged visitors. Byron showed up a few minutes later with our bags that we left at the Fish Eagle’s Nest and, more importantly, my rifles. For those of you new to my hunting adventures, Byron Hart is a new friend of mine and an old friend of Johann’s. He, himself, is also a PH and runs the concessions I will be hunting. With Byron’s arrival, we bade our friend from Fish Eagle farewell.

The three of us were famished and we sat down to lunch and to catch up while we waited for the Veldsmans’ arrival. It turns out that Bryon’s day had gone downhill rather quickly after he had gotten up. He loaned his brand new boat to one of the other PHs who then proceeded to run it over some rocks and rip the lower unit off of the outboard engine. I felt sorry for him, as the boat really was new with only eleven hours of use on the motor. This downturn in luck tended to follow Byron for the rest of the week but I do not want to get ahead of myself. The rest of the lunch was pleasant and we caught up on what has happened since we last met.

Johann, Vera and Zoe got to camp about 3:00, and it was great to see everyone again. After lots of hugs, kisses and getting them checked in, the guys headed out to check the rifles, while the ladies stayed in camp to enjoy an afternoon of R&R and cocktails (I am still a little unsure on how much of each and in what order). We did not have to go too far to get to Byron’s favorite termite mound/backstop and with a bull’s-eye drawn on a cardboard box we were all set. Johann counted off 25 steps (the most probable distance from my intended target) and he told me to take the shot. My first shot from the .416 was a little off and I was not sure if it was the clean/cold bore or me. The next three were spot on and in the center of the bull, thereby proving the .416 was ready for duty. Checking the 9.3X62 required moving back to the 100-yard mark and firing from there. The first shots were a little to the left and required two clicks on the scope’s windage turret, and the next three shots punched a nice little cloverleaf in the bull’s-eye. Fair warning to all the critters on my license: “Beware!” With both rifles deemed fit for duty, and a mention that the sundowner hour had started back at Camp Chobe, we loaded up and headed back.

The next several hours were made up of “Rock Shandy’s” “Savana Dry” hard cider, brandy, Coke, good food, lots of stories, old and new, and a whole lot of fun. Time ended up getting away from us and next thing we knew it was bedtime and we had not even been to the fire pit yet. As to not jinx ourselves for the whole trip, we stopped by the fire long enough for a quick visit and then it was off to bed. The day had been long and tiring and tomorrow would start early.

A mature elephant’s last resting place.  The wind was blowing offshore all night or there would have been predators / scavengers all over it.   A mature elephant’s last resting place. The wind was blowing offshore all night or there would have been predators / scavengers all over it.

 

Captain Norman tied us up on the sandbar in the middle of the river in case any predators showed up during the night.  The elephant is in the middle of the picture.   Captain Norman tied us up on the sandbar in the middle of the river in case any predators showed up during the night. The elephant is in the middle of the picture.

 

Savanna Light, (SA's hard apple cider) Janice's favorite sundowner.  Savanna Light, (SA’s hard apple cider) Janice’s favorite sundowner.

 

The main lodge.  The main lodge. Our home for the next nine days. Our home for the next nine days.

 

The view from our front porch.  The view from our front porch.

 

The sleeping quarters in out tent.  The sleeping quarters in out tent.

 

Each tent has all the comforts of home.  Each tent has all the comforts of home.

 

In tent shower with all the hot water (solar) you could ever want, even first thing in the morning.  In tent shower with all the hot water (solar) you could ever want, even first thing in the morning.

 

Friday: Elephant Tracks

 

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