Travel writer Christopher Clark recently joined us aboard the Pangolin Voyager. Here he shares some of his experiences and a few of his images:
It had been two years since my last visit to Chobe, and getting off the plane at Kasane, I felt a little like I was coming home. There’s something about the place.
We were picked up by Guts and ferried the short drive to the Pangolin base on the banks of the river, where we were welcomed by a few elephants and a number of warthogs munching away in the garden.
We threw our things in the room and headed straight out on the photo boats for an afternoon cruise, the balmy air and golden light a real treat after the cold, dark winter morning we’d left behind in Cape Town.
With sundowners in hand, we shared a typically beautiful Chobe sunset with a herd of elephants who were drinking at the water’s edge beside us and we took the opportunity to play around with silhouette photos.
After a braai and a good catch up with the Pangolin team, we turned in early, ready to board the Pangolin Voyager and embark on a new adventure in the morning.
After stamping out of Botswana and into Namibia at the most casual border post I’ve ever seen, we sped along the river towards our home for the next five days. We rounded a bend in the river, and there she was, moored on the bank and looking even more regal than I’d imagined.
A couple of fisherman paddled past in their mokoros and a herd of cattle perused the bank. Otherwise, I already felt a long way from civilization and the busier sections of the river on the Botswanan side, to which most tourist boats on the river are largely restricted.
We were welcomed on board by the crew and took some time to explore the three floors before the other guests arrived.
Finally satisfied that I’d traversed almost every inch of the boat, I took a well-earnt afternoon drink onto the top floor sundeck, absorbed the uninterrupted views for a while and waved at the sporadically-passing mokoros.
Over the following days, we fell into the comfortable routine of morning and afternoon game viewing excursions on Pangolin’s state of the art photo boats, enjoying the time between relaxing on board the houseboat as we drifted along the river from mooring to mooring.
There is something very surreal about eating a delectable brunch as you cruise along with vast herds of elephants, impala, buffalo and a 50-strong journey of giraffe scattered across the plains on either side of your dining room.
Evenings on the Voyager were an equally enjoyable affair, with all of us eating around the communal dining table. Guts, our guide and host, would share some of his fascinating stories from the field and give informative powerpoint presentations with tips and tricks for us to try out.
Wine and laughter flowed freely, then every so often we would fall silent for a moment at the sound of an elephant’s trumpet, an impala’s alarm call or a lion’s deep roar in the darkness beyond the boat.
Among the many memorable sightings during our stay was a pride of lions trying to take down a lone bull elephant who made the mistake of loudly interrupting their chill time. The next night, the same lions came to drink at the water’s edge just a few metres from our photo boat. Bobbing gently in the water at eye level with these cats was a truly exhilarating experience.
As always with Pangolin, I also felt that my photography improved considerably over just a matter of days. Now back in my office in Cape Town, I still find myself looking through my images in awe at the beauty they depict, and wondering when my next Chobe homecoming will be. It can’t be soon enough.