Saturday, 11 August 2012

Our Journey through Limpopo Province, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe June 2012. Ichingo Chobe River Lodge and Safai Boats.

13th June 2012 to 16th June 2012.
Up early to see the African dawn, it was on the dot of 07.00 we left the small village of Gweta and drove back towards Nata. I had been told that the road from Nata to Kasane was in a very poor state of repair, with large pot holes just one of the hazards to be avoided. In reality, the road has undergone extensive repairs; in fact it looks like a new road is being built. Where the roadworks are still ongoing you drive on a service road, this temporary road is tar and not busy. So to put the record straight, the road from Nata to Kasane was good , and will be excellent when it is finished. The drive from Gweta to Kasane took less than 4 hours.
Kasane is a busy town, located next to the Chobe River at the entrance to the Chobe National Park.  We had to make our way to ‘Customs and Immigration’. After driving up and down the main street in Kasane a few times, narrowly missing the Warthogs on the road, we finally spotted located the Botswana Immigration building on the river bank.
Botswana Immigration, Kasane.
The Border Post. Kasane.

Here we were met by Robert from Ichingo Chobe River Lodge. He parked the car in a secure site then led us to a small speed boat. This was our transport out of Botswana via the Chobe River to Namibia. Once on the Namibian side, Robert stopped to boat and instructed us to walk up the dirt track and find the Namibian customs office located ‘just left at the Baobab Tree’, whilst he stay with our bags.  Once the formalities of the border crossings were over, we got back into the boat for the very short ride  to Ichingo Chobe River Lodge.

Turn Left At The Baobab to find the Namibian Customs Office.

The local Lozi people of Impalila Island traditionally use the mokoro on the rivers,

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is situated on Impalila Island, Namibia. The Island is billed as a unique and beautiful island located at the convergence of two mighty African rivers, the Zambezi and the Chobe. It is the only place in the world where four countries are joined at one point. Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana all converge here. As the largest island in this area, Impalila Island, gained notoriety during the 1980s when it was as a military base for the South African Defence Forces (SADF), due to its strategic position within sight of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Evidence of the SADF presence is visible with a military bridge and 1,300m-long runway of compressed gravel; The old  barracks are now a secondary school, serving most of the older children in the area.  
If you are looking for information about Ichingo Chobe River Lodge, note that on Trip Advisor, it is listed as; ‘Ichingo Chobe River Lodge, Caprivi Strip, Namibia’ and ‘ Ichingo River lodge, Impalila Isalnd, Kasane, Botswana’. This is correct as the lodge is located on Impalila Island, Namibia. On the banks of the Chobe River. You can see the main road into Kasane, Botswana from the main deck at Ichingo Lodge. The lodge consists of a plunge pool, a main deck with bar, sitting area and dining room. The guest rooms are well equipped tents with a permanent ensuite bathroom. The bedrooms are very comfortable. With extra large King sized beds that are very cosy.
Once settled in and after a delicious hot lunch we walked across the 4 KM Island, passing over the bridge and passed the landing strip constructed by the South African Defence Force during the Namibian War of independence that ended in 1988. The conflict ran from 1966, aided, in part by Cuban money and troops on the Namibian side. The walk took us to a giant Baobab located on a small hill, the Baobab is tall and this was once used as a look out, and Gun post by the SADF. You can climb to the top of it from where you can see the four counties that are located in this region.
That evening supper was served on the teak deck. It was a three course meal starting with soup, then meat with rice and veg, then a pudding. The drinks are included in the price at Ichingo and the owner Ralph joined us for the meal, providing good company and a very good bottle of red wine.
Who would have thought you could catch a Tiger in Africa? The Tiger Fish that is. Following breakfast, I had my first go a fishing. The small fishing boat was in the fast flowing water of the Zambezi, just above the rapids. So following the family dramas of The Kwai River in Thialand and my escapade on the Kai Tuna River in New Zealand, I did request a life jacket. Though having seen the speed of the water and the very large Crocodiles on the banks of the river, I really don’t think it would have done very much. The guide Robert was very patient as he baited the hook and taught me how to use the Rod and Tackle. Not long after casting my line I had a bite, then reeling in what felt like a Marlin....I had caught a 2KG Cat Fish. Then my partner also caught his first fish a 2KG Tiger Fish, so Catfish v Tiger... I think he won the extreme fishing competition!
2KG Tiger Fish
Just before lunch, Robert took us a little upstream to the Houseboat ‘The Molli’. This boat has 4 bedrooms and sleeps 8 with a crew of 5. Tonight there was just 4 of us aboard. The houseboat is a Namibian registered vessel so is able to stay overnight in the Chobe National Park. This was a really wonderful way to experience The Chobe National Park, for the next two nights we were taken Game and Bird watching in our own small boat, enjoyed the delicious home cooked meals prepared for us by the chef and basically just relaxed on the houseboat.

On the Molli with second safai boat in background.