From Sango Camp we flew into Kasane airport, where Vasco, who would be our guide over the next three days, met us and drove us to the lodge. The lodge is in Kasane National Forest. Oddballs had a total of 14 tents; Sango had 10, though at each of these we were the only guests, our November stay coming toward the end of the season and the start of the Christmas holidays and school vacations. Elephant Valley Lodge had 20 tents, though again, there were only a few guests beside ourselves staying there. Though adjacent to Chobe National Park, the park was half-an-hours drive from the lodge. This took an hour of time each day that would otherwise have been spent viewing wildlife.
Oddballs and Sango had the warm feel of, and indeed were owned and run by, families, Elephant Valley had more the feel of a not-particularly-well-managed business more interested in a well-manicured lawn than in the comfort of their guests. We had chosen this lodge because it had a swimming pool, and we figured Alex and Julia would be ready for one after the hiking and riding in the hot sun at Oddballs and Sango. After Laura cleared the pool of dead insects and decaying leaves they jumped in with glee. That evening at dinner, the termites decided to swarm, and we were treated to their wings dropping onto our food because the dining room host had seated us under a bright light. Julia has an insect phobia and much of the dinner was spent calming her down, Jon by showing her how to eat termites. That said, the food was good, with items like crocodile, impala, kudu, and warthog steaks being on the menu, ordered, and eaten. I advanced Hobber’s birthday a few days and asked if the lodge might do something special for him at dinner the next night. They baked a birthday cake for him, and in presenting it sang in Setwana and danced around our table.
The tents were large, with good beds, and a spacious bathroom and regular shower inside the tent and an integral part of it. Although the tent had several side vents, for some reason the management kept them covered with the canvas flaps and the arrangement was such that we could not roll them up easily. Instead of the fresh African night air cooling our sleep, we used the electric fan. provided. Not an eco-friendly place. There were enough lights on the lawn to power a small city. At Oddballs and Sango one was in the bush. Here one was in an establishment, though a pleasant enough one. There was a light outside our tent. The light shade was made of small twigs from a thorn tree. It made a convenient hanger on which to dry my washed boxers.
Mox, one of the staff, took a liking to our family, and in spare moments Hobbes, Julia, and Alex took turns at playing chess with him.