The Bruenjes' 2001 African Adventure!

Page Two - The Animals

This is page two. If you missed the eclipse page or page one, click here.

Day 7: Friday June 22nd, 2001. Livingstone Zambia to Chobe National Park Botswana.

The day after the eclipse, we got up early to go on a Rhino Safari. We were driven to Mosi-Oa-Tunya Zoological Park, a preserve not far from Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. The morning was unseasonably misty (maybe because of the eclipse the day before) and we did not see much at first. We got really excited when we saw this... a tiny herd of Impala. By the end of there trip we had seen so many that we made jokes about not wasting film on them.

This is the first white rhino that we saw. It was one of two; a mother and her son. There are a total of five white rhinos being protected in this park. We can honestly say we saw 40% of the Rhinos in this area (2 of 5).

The Damage done by some elusive elephants! We saw what they did but we never saw elephants until we got to Chobe.

The only zebras we came across were here. That's the best picture we have of them.

Here's Monica by the Zambezi River. It's really cold, and she's not a morning person! Good thing the guide gave us ponchos.

Here is our guide showing us where a rhino had charged him and damaged his Land Rover! Apparently, he had been looking behind him talking to a group and the thing just slammed into them! You can see the scratch marks along the side as he drove away with the Rhino still pushing. The Rhino's horn punctured the car just to the left of the front wheel.

Warthogs at the edge of a swamp. Don't worry, we've got a much better picture of a warthog later on.

We drove right by this the first time, and would have missed it if Monica had not been looking backwards out of the Land Rover. It's a giraffe, hiding behind a bush. Ten feet away and nobody saw it! You can see why, he's very well camouflaged.

The wonderful wildebeest! Not enough to do Simba any harm.

Baboons! These guys were really neat, and I never realized how large they were until I saw them running across the road. Some were about 3 feet high.

Hello. A great giraffe pic.

Victoria Falls as seen from upriver. Memorize this scene... if you ever see something like this while going down a river, STOP or you might plunge 300 feet!

This was taken while sitting in our hotel room. That's right, this was our view, complete with scavenging monkeys (see lower right on tree trunk).

From Zambia to Botswana

We left the hotel around lunchtime, to fly to Kasane Botswana, and drove to Chobe National Park, Botswana. After takeoff our Captain got special permission to fly over the Falls, which gave us a spectacular view. Remember that the falls are a mile wide and 300 feet tall - twice as high as Niagara. The pink buildings past the right edge of the falls is our hotel.

Elephant crossing. Funny, nobody told them the light was green! Image getting off a sixty year old plane, into an open Land Rover, and this is what you see. Amazing!

You are now entering the wonderful Chobe Game Lodge, the modern Jurassic Park. The Game Lodge is famous because it was the site of Elizabeth Taylor's wedding to Richard Burton.

One of the warthogs that live on the hotel grounds. They are always in your way. Not exactly as smooth as the baby's bottom... I think these warthogs have a good life at Chobe.

Most of our time at Chobe was already planned out for us. The great advantage to staying inside the park is that no time is wasted getting to where the animals are. We could hear lions roaring while lying in our beds, and elephants are often on hotel grounds. It is not safe to walk outside your room at night. The only thing between you and the lions is a three foot fence, and there is no gate on the driveway.

We're up for a game drive right after arriving, and ahh, it's the elephants again! This time it's a water crossing.

A young elephant is talking a mud bath. Very good for the skin I'm sure! The younger ones prefer the damp mud to the dry dirt that older elephants bathe in.

We got charged by a baby elephant! Isn't he cute though? We were charged by elephants at least six times that I could think of. Usually it was a mother elephant objecting to our proximity to her offspring.

How close do you get? This close!

Lion crossing!

These cubs were crossing to catch up with mom. There are about 25 lions in the park (which is the size of Yellowstone), and most of these lions are concentrated around our lodge. We saw them every time we went on a game drive.

Here's a group of impala. These are all female. The males have horns.

Our guide knew just where to go to find giraffes.

A beautiful sunset after an un-real and wonderful day.

Day 8: Saturday June 23rd, 2001. Chobe National Park, Botswana.

There are about 25 lions in Chobe and a lot of them have collars so they can be tracked. The male lion is named Scottie. Scottie has no shame; in the evening we found him sitting at the side of a road. We stopped, and he walked around our Land Rover and back up to the front where he promptly began taking care of his business...

One morning we went out to try and see the lions make a kill. There was a very interesting drama between them and these water buffalo, but no kill.

The elephants were often by the water. They love it!

Here's a new friend, a grazing hippo!

My what big teeth you have. We saw many crocs, there is no sunbathing on riverbanks here!

Those elephants love to play! This particular pose inspired some jokes...

Here is our fabulous hotel as seen from the Chobe river. It was a very nice place but did have a bug problem. Little beetles had taken over our bathroom. We found that the best place from which to observe the sky at night was near the white umbrella at the left. This is a private patio area that the hotel staff can unlock upon request.

The sundowner cruise was amazing. They found some elephants and put them between us and the Sun for some beautiful photo opportunities.

You could not have asked for a more picturesque scene.

Day 9: Sunday June 24th, 2001. Chobe National Park, Botswana.

Some vultures in the early morning. Just out of sight were the lions, who had made a kill. These vultures were getting ready for the leftovers.

Crikey! Monica sees a Croc!

A closer look. The Croc is across the river from our hotel. Across the river happens to be Namibia, as the Chobe river is the border between Botswana and Namibia.

When you gotta go, you gotta go. These two Japanese tourists would have been lion lunch if they had stayed much longer.

Here are two Kudu. These are females; again, the males have horns. We may have eaten Kudu. There were a lot of meats at dinner that were beef-like and chicken-like but otherwise completely unidentifiable.

A beautiful African sky.

Too close for comfort? At Chobe, it's not an issue of "how close can you get to them", but an issue of "how close will they get to you"?

The guides/drivers would do anything for us. One of the people in our car wanted to see giraffes, so our driver drove us much further into the park than we had been on previous drives to see these great giraffes. There were places where you could see twenty or more at once, much closer than this.

Day 10: Monday June 25th, 2001. Chobe, Botswana to Vic Falls, Zimbabwe.

Stranded in Zimbabwe

We promptly packed up, checked out of the hotel, and went to the Kasane, Botswana airport. But there was a problem... no plane. Believe me, Victoria, our DC3, really stands out and you notice when she's not there. Our plane is nowhere to be found, and even the airline doesn't know where the plane is. This is bad.

There are no other flights out of Kasane airport in the direction we want to go (this IS the middle of Africa), so a scheme was hatched to drive overland to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where the air connections are better. Great. Fred spent a lot of time to find a tour that didn't go to Zimbabwe, because the country is having so many problems. So off we went.

Here is Fred and Ali (our guide/driver) at the Zimbabwe border.

On the road to Vic Falls we saw a small plane that had crashed two days earlier. It was lying in pieces at the side of the road. Three people died in the crash, which was blamed on insufficient fuel. Our flight crew (of the DC3) were the ones that witnessed and reported the crash, and they dispute the official story. Before takeoff they had seen the small plane having engine problems, to the point where the ill-fated passengers did not want to fly in the plane. This really reinforced that we are in third-world countries here.

Upon arrival in Vic Falls, we learned that only six of the group's thirteen people could fly out that day. We (Fred and Monica) had a day of slack in our plane scheduling, and so we spent the night, to catch the next flight out tomorrow. We learned that our plane (the DC3, Victoria) was here along with the flight crew we had gotten to know so well. Below we can be seen chatting with them while we wait for the ride to our hotel.

Day 11: Tuesday June 26th, 2001. Vic Falls, Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, to Sal, Cape Verde.

In Zimbabwe we stayed at a first rate hotel that even had a casino. There were huge wooden carved figures in that casino, which was surrounded by shops and food. But Fred's fears about Zimbabwe were coming true. The phones didn't work. At best he could get an operator in the USA telling him that he had no way to pay for the call, and at worst while calling the operator he would get a message telling him to call the operator. Great. Did I mention that the fuel prices had just doubled?

Believe it or not, we didn't go back and see the Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side. The mist was so bad that we would have gotten extremely wet, and now we can say that we went to Victoria Falls but didn't see the Victoria Falls! After some shopping we headed to the airport and caught our flight to Johannesburg.

We were very displeased with the charter air operator, Debon Air. There head office was full of people making our lives miserable. They refused to pay for many of our expenses, and we ended up paying about $200 each out of our pockets to get ourselves out of the country. The flight crew was excellent, but those in charge of the company are a bunch of (censored). Thank goodness for trip insurance, we will be using it. In contrast, our safari tour operator (Bushtracks Africa) was absolutely excellent and I would recommend them to anyone.

In Johannesburg, there were of course more problems and we almost didn't make it onto our flight back to New York. I think we were second to last in line to get on the plane. The plane flew from Johannesburg, to Sal Island in Cape Verde (off the western tip of Africa).

Day 12: Wednesday June 27th, 2001. Sal, Cape Verde to Wisconsin.

At Sal Island, the plane refueled while we ran into the terminal to try to make a phone call to let everyone know we were alive. Less than an hour later, we were back in the air and on our way to New York. At JFK we were met by our father, who drove us to Newark, where we caught a plane to Detroit, and on to Minneapolis, and then drove to Fairchild, Wisconsin, where our other Grandfather has a farm. If I calculated correctly, we travelled for 43 hours nonstop, with about an hour or two of sleep. Below are pictures of our Grandfather's farmhouse and barn.

We finally got home to San Diego on Day 17, July 2nd, 2001 at 12:10am.


The whole trip was fantastic. We saw many, many wonderful and beautiful things. We have now been to 17 countries, and these were some of the most interesting. There is another eclipse in Africa on December 4, 2002, and Fred already has it marked on his calendar.

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