Chobe is an incredible wildlife paradise - here's a beginner's guide to Botswana's first National Park.
15 Feb 2021
21 Feb 2023
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Tucked away in the North Eastern corner of Botswana is the incredible wildlife paradise that is Chobe National Park. Combining several different habitats and ecosystems this species rich area is definitely worth including into any safari, be it as an add on from Victoria Falls or either side of a longer Botswana safari.
Large numbers of elephants
High concentrations of predators, especially in Savute
Chobe river cruise
Day trip across the border from Kasane to Victoria Falls
Exclusive luxury lodges
Water based activities
A photographer’s paradise in both the wet and dry season
More about Chobe
Created in 1960 and covering nearly 12,000sqkm, Chobe National Park was Botswana’s first National Park.
The national park stretches from the Okavango Delta, south of the Caprivi strip of Namibia and up towards Kasane where the borders of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia and Botswana all converge. The Northern border is defined by the Chobe river which separates Botswana and Namibia until it flows into the Linyanti river further to the west.
Although Chobe National Park covers a large area, much of the central and southern regions are rarely visited by tourists. The majority of camps are either located in the Savute region to the West or in the North East not far from Kasane. Both areas differ hugely and much of the national park in between is sparse and inaccessible during the dry months.
In the West, the Savute channel winds along the border of the Chobe National Park linking the Linyanti River to the Savute Marsh, contrasting with the constant flow of the Chobe River, this channel often goes through extended dry periods and will then suddenly flow again. This inconsistency often means your trip to Savute can be a mystery until you arrive. The Savute area is particularly well known for their predators, especially lions and hyenas.
As a whole, Chobe is famed for being an elephant stronghold. With numbers inside Chobe thought to be over 130,000, Chobe acts as one of the last safe havens for elephants and one of the few places where you can witness these graceful animals in incredible numbers. The mega-herds in Chobe and the surrounding areas can number in their hundreds and are often found heading down to the banks of the Savute Channel or Chobe River to rehydrate in the afternoon.
It depends what you are looking for, but many people prefer to visit in the dry season which is from May to September when the game is easier to spot.
During the dry seasons the grasses are low and much of the larger animals tend to stay close to the riverside due to the scarcity of waterholes and other ground water.
In contrast during the wet summer months (Nov – April) the vegetation is lush and the surrounding waterholes are all full providing a number of options for the wildlife to rehydrate. The animals are still there; however, they are often a little more sparse and can be slightly more difficult to find. If you are keen birder, although there is a high diversity in species throughout the year you will be able to see a wider variety during the wet season.
Personally, I think different parts of Chobe work best at different times of the year. My favourite time of year to be in Savute is April/May, with the green lush marshes and waterholes with plenty of water, the game viewing is fantastic, as well as the scenery and lighting for photography.
Chobe is home to an impressive wealth of species. As previously mentioned, elephants gather here in huge numbers and are on of the big draws to this incredible area.
As well as the large elephant population the density of predators is also one of the big draws to the area. All the usual suspects can be found such as lion, cheetah, leopard, wild dog and Chobe is one of the few areas where you can see both the brown hyena and the spotted hyena sharing the same habitat.
In both the wet and dry months you can also see buffalo, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, black and white rhino, impala and red lechwe.
Chobe River Cruise
No visit to Chobe is complete without a cruise along the Chobe River, whether this if spending the morning on a smaller boat looking for wildlife along the banks or spending a few days on a longer cruise on the Zambezi Queen or Chobe Princes - both will provide an unforgettable experience.
Most safaris are dominated by morning and afternoon game drives so the opportunity to go on a water-based safari can be a welcome change. You can go with the flow of the river with the engines off allowing you to get nice and close as the wildlife comes down to drink on the banks. This provides some incredible photographic opportunities as well a bit of rest-bite from the bouncy roads.
Stay on the Zambezi Queen
Our 14-day luxury honeymoon includes 2 nights on the Zambezi Queen, as well as visiting the Okavango Delta and Selinda reserve.
Depending on where in the Chobe National Park you are visiting will determine your mode of transport and the entry point.
As previously mentioned, Chobe is often a middle spot on a longer itinerary and works as a good stopping point between the Okavango Delta or Central Kalahari as you are working your way North East to finish with a few days in Victoria Falls.
If you are heading to Savute, unless you are on a self drive or mobile safari you will need to fly in to one of the airstrips which services the camp you are staying at. Charter flights depart from Maun or Kasane or be ferrying you from another camp you are staying at.
If you are staying in the North East of Chobe or along the Chobe River front your entry point will be Kasane. Located near the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Kasane is easily reach by road transfer from Victoria Falls and this is the most popular mode of transport between the two. Alternatively you can fly into Kasane on a charter flight from the majority of Camps and lodges in Central and Northern Botswana.
Family friendly camps
Botswana family safaris are becoming increasingly popular and most camps now cater for children, that being said some still have higher age limits than others.
The North Eastern areas of Chobe are home to some of the family friendly camps and lodges catering for children of all ages. The accommodation tends to be larger here and being close to Victoria Falls are accessible without a private charter meaning they tend to be a favourite. Camps such as Muchenje and Ngoma are both great family options. With stunning views over the Chobe River and offering family rooms and private vehicles its is the perfect addition to any family safari.
The more remote and camps in Savute also cater for children, however these are often smaller and family tent and private vehicle numbers can restrict availability.
Offering a true wilderness experience in luxurious and exclusive camps and lodges provides the perfect location for a romantic Botswana honeymoon.
Botswana is arguably one of the top safari destinations in Africa and with incredible game viewing it is difficult to try and squeeze everything into one trip. All areas in Chobe work for honeymoons, however camp such as Chobe Under Canvas is a personal favourite of mine. This is a semi permanent camp accessible from Kasane. One of the few camps located inside of the National Park it move every 5 days and offers a fully wild, remote and exclusive luxury experience.
Whether you are only visiting for a few days from Victoria Falls or your stop is part of a larger Botswana itinerary, Chobe is a must. Its huge diversity and incredible game viewing make it an integral part of your safari.
Our experts know all the areas and camps around Chobe, as well as the rest of Botswana and would be happy to help put together your Safari. It can be a daunting task researching which areas and camps to visit and the time of year you want to travel, however we can assist in creating a seamless adventure. Call us today on 01768 603 715 to find out more.