Attack of the baboons

After a full day’s drive, we arrived at Chobe National Park on the border of Zambia in time for nightfall. Once again, we would be pitching a tent in the dark.

Navigating our way through the most bizarrely maze-esque campsite, we set about pitching our home for the next four nights by car-light.

It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, our hitherto-faithful tent decided to give up the ghost, tent poles snapping in half. (Sorry Stu and Danya, we’ll buy new ones). Brilliant, juuuuust brilliant. Queue half an hour of battling with broken sticks, string, tentpegs and mosquitos, to emerge with one very wonky tee-pee. It was time for a very large glass of wine at the lodge restaurant up the road.

After dinner we drove back to the jungle of a campsite, getting completely lost until eventually the camp guards came to find out what on earth we were doing driving round and round the campsite in the dark.

They showed us to our tee-pee and we bedded in for the night.

Next thing I know, I wake to a voice outside the tent: “Knock knock knock, is anyone home?” the voice asked.

6 o’clock in the morning, I stuck my head out to find out who wanted what at this time in the morning…

But he didn’t need to speak, I soon saw exactly what he wanted.

Our tee-pee was surrounded by carnage, Beast’s doors wide open – the baboons had staged an attack. Breaking into our car, the pesky gang of monkeys had distributed all of our food and a good number of our belongings around the campsite.

“Look, there’s one of them just over there,” the guard pointed. As if I was going to retrieve whatever morsel of our supplies the pest was currently stuffing his face on.

Informing Tom of the disaster, the camel’s back broke. Storming out of the tee-pee in his pants, Tom had broken at last.

“Enough’s enough. WE. ARE. NOT. CAMPING. ANY. MORE.” Tom bellowed. “Get your things we’re going to find a room!”

Encouraging him to calm down and put his clothes on before we went anywhere, I went off to find the ablution blocks for a wash. Five minutes later and feeling refreshed, I swung open the door to startle a HUGE warthog and its babies blocking the path out. I quickly retreated, and climbing up to the window, squealed at Tom to come and keep watch.

After about 15 minutes of waiting, the warthogs moved along with their grazing, and Tom shouted “Right, exit now and keep to the wall along your left. You should be fine.”

He wasn’t entirely wrong about the camping getting a bit taxing, I thought.

Nonetheless, we drove off for our first day’s game drive, and were rewarded by an incredible hippo encounter – the hippo out of the water grazing, and completely unphased by our presence. He ploughed right over to the car, gave us a good looking at, and continued with his breakfast. We held our breath, before inching off.

Tom’s anger at camping hadn’t dissipated by nightfall, so we duly moved into the cheapest room we could find – a room set right along the river. “Be careful of hippos and crocodiles, they come up here at night,” the hotel helpfully advised.

Over the next few days we didn’t meet any hippos or crocodiles, but we did have a band of warthogs and mongooses constantly at our sides. Note – baby mongooses are now officially the cutest thing to walk this earth.

The next days of gamedriving went equally well, with elephants – including a few days’ old baby -, and a pride of lions with cubs, gracing us with their presence.

All in all, Chobe truly is one of the most stunning places I’ve been, and the sheer number of animals is incredible. I can’t wait to go back one day.

And no, we never did go back to camping after that.

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