A guide to the Okavango Delta concessionsRead More
Home to Africa's largest elephant population and excellent game viewing
One of Botswana’s top safari destinations due to the large concentrations of wildlife, Chobe offers a superb and exciting safari experience. Sightings of wide-ranging and abundant game and birdlife –including the Big 5 as Rhino begin to venture this far north – are virtually guaranteed all year round. An astonishing one third of the Globe’s African Elephant population lives in Botswana – approximately 120,000 Elephant; the majority of whom traverse and inhabit the Chobe region. It is not uncommon to see spectacles of several hundred Elephant in the area whilst on one a game activity.
This is just one of the reasons for Chobe being the most-visited destination in Botswana – another being that access to the Park and River is available to a huge range of traveller with regular international daily flights and a good road network. Chobe is, however, not typical of Botswana experiences, where most destinations operating on a more exclusive basis, but despite this, Chobe remains a firm favourite for safari enthusiasts. The Chobe riverfront can be busy – but so long as this is understood the game viewing is still very productive, especially in the drier months and is therefore highly recommended especially for first-time safari travellers. Chobe is also a very family friendly destination, with most lodge accepting children of all ages, and the prolific, varied and consistent game-viewing potential keeps youngsters engaged.
Chobe is the name given to the wildlife and wilderness region which encompasses Chobe River, Chobe National Park and Chobe Forest Reserve. Though technically Savuti and Linyanti form part of the area, they merit individual recognition being distinct and impressive in their own right, with different ecosystems, habitat and experience offered.
Chobe region covers a vast area spanning 11,700 square kilometres and is arguably host to the most varied ecosystem in Botswana due to the diversity of vegetation, forest, pan and floodplain habitats, as well as the permanently flowing Chobe River. Granted National Park status in 1967, Chobe is Botswana’s first protected nature reserve and park area and the third largest reserve in Botswana. The aquatic lifeline of Chobe River provides a vital water source in the Kalahari environment to all animals in the north east, including migratory species moving from the arid southerly pan areas and also from the north and surrounds when the scarcity of water drives them to the sanctuary of the permanent water supply at Chobe River.
Whilst notorious for the colossal number of Elephant, visitors can also expect to see enormous herds of Cape Buffalo – often in their hundreds, along with Giraffe, Zebra, Kudu, Impala and, of course, predators! Drawn by the sheer volume of animals, large and ingenious prides of lion (sometimes 30 or more individuals strong) have perfected the means to hunt Elephant and whilst it would be a rare thing to see, prides of Lion reside permanently along the riverfront, as well as Spotted Hyena, Leopard and even the endearing and endangered African Wild Dog. Less-known, shy and rare species you are very likely to see include the Red Lechwe, Puku, Roan and Sable Antelope and the endemic and delightful Chobe Bushbuck. For Birders, over 450 species may be sighted on the River and in the dry land Park areas: the African Fish Eagle, Carmine Bee Eaters and Yellowbilled Kites during the summer (Oct-April) as well as Herons, Storks, Egrets, Kingfishers and Cormorants galore year round.
Grotesque in their magnitude, Nile Crocodile thrive in the river and here you will find the largest individuals in Botswana. Photographing them on river banks and along the Sedudu Island edgeway, whilst drifting along on your boat cruise, can feel unnerving as they silently and seemingly maliciously, gape in wait. However, Hippo are plentiful and provide a wonderful and comical distraction with their characteristic honking and snorting as they rise and fall at their leisure in the channels. Nowhere else can you also enjoy the simultaneous play and pleasure of Elephant families as they cross the channel and frolic in the weightless river environment. Uplifting and exciting scenes. Enlightening and entertaining to all.
Access to Chobe could not be easier. The buzzy little town of Kasane, home to around 24,000 inhabitants has its own international airport and excellent road access. Being located on Chobe River and borders Chobe National Park, as well as within easy reach of Livingstone, Victoria Falls and Caprivi, this little town is right at the very centre of safari action in the north. The recently renovated airport connects directly with Johannesburg, Cape Town, Maun and Gaborone – with many routes being on a daily basis. Flights into nearby Victoria Falls, just 1.5 hours drive from Kasane, are also a convenient way to reach Kasane and Chobe with cross-border road transfers easily organised.
Uniquely located at the confluence of two rivers (Zambezi & Chobe) and being one of four fantastic frontier-sharing safari countries: Zambia (Livingstone border), Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls border) and Namibia (Caprivi Strip and river border), Kasane will inevitably form part of most visitors’ itineraries. Whilst the wildlife and wilderness area of Chobe is the major draw card, Kasane itself is becoming more popular in its own right. Without fencing, the game has right of way and it is possible to see creatures large and small town-side quite often. Unusual points of interest and onsite activities onsite offer opportunities for a more diverse experience for all: including a 9 hole golf course, fishing on Chobe River (a must-do for keen “tiger” fishermen), walks to Namibia’s nearby rural village settlements and even day trips to Victoria Falls for those not able to spend more time there.
Being a town, there are numerous accommodation and restaurant options catering to all tastes and budgets. Here, you can reconnect with the world with the generally reliable internet access offered on a complimentary basis in most places and draw cash from the ATM. It’s a rather bizarre and incongruous place with such modern facilities on the doorstep of some of the World’s most wild, remote and incredible wilderness areas.
For those keen to explore independently on self-drive, there is an excellent network of tarred roads from Nata to the south, Livingstone and Victoria Falls northwards and the Caprivi to the west. Intrepid self-drivers can venture into the Park and even further south through Savuti to Khwai and Moremi Game Reserve, but a 4×4 vehicle will be essential in this sandy terrain and pre-planning is mandatory and best done with professional guidance as camp sites and lodges fill quickly, particularly during holidays and peak season (July-October) and finding one’s way can be challenging. Mobile 4×4 safaris offer the perfect solution to those wanting a more guided and catered experience through the bush.
The Chobe River itself does, of course, offer a huge range of activities with boat cruises at any time of day, though most often done in the afternoon as part of a “sundowner” experience. This is the time when animals come down to the water to drink: prey creatures nervously watching out for opportunistic predators and predators watching out for inattentive prey.
Houseboats are a wonderful way to focus on the river’s special qualities – quietly meandering along the system, observing birdlife and animals in an unobtrusive fashion. This offers a quieter, unhurried experience away from the busy safari centres of the River near Sedudu Island and the National Park.
Activities on offer in Chobe include: 4×4 guided game drives in the Park, boat cruises on the Chobe River, houseboat safaris, mobile safaris, daytrips to Victoria Falls, fishing, golfing, cultural excursions to villages and schools, visit to the famous “Baobab Prison”, the Chobe snake park,, caracal Park and crocodile Park.
Set on the plateau overlooking the Chobe river with lovely views of the floodplains, Chobe Pangolin Hotel is a charming little hotel with a unique and striking design. Photography is at the heart of this owner-run hotel. DSLR cameras and lenses are provided free of charge, their 4x4 vehicles and boats are specially adapted to support photographers and there are dedicated areas for photo editing. A friendly, affordable and very comfortable stay in Kasane with great access to Chobe National Park.
Endeavour Safaris is a specialist safari outfit best known for their accessible safaris for persons with disabilities. Endeavour offer a variety of safari options which can be tailored to individual needs. Passionate about inclusive tourism and opening up the wonders of safaris to all guests, they offer a full range of safari altwith services including dialysis machines, wheelchair friendly vehicles, access to boating and medical facilities. Other safaris include Trans-Okavango boating safaris.
Ngoma Safari Lodge is set within the peaceful Chobe Forest Reserve, just 3km from Chobe National Park – with its infinite views over Chobe’s seasonal floodplains. A sanctuary away from the Kasane crowds, this small luxury lodge bears witness to the prolific game found along Chobe’s riverfront from its rocky height along the escarpment. Ngoma Safari Lodge offers a range of activities including game drives within Chobe National Park, boat cruises and night drives within the Forest Reserve.
Bush Ways Safaris run two set departure groups tours with their fully serviced mobile safari camp - the northbound safari and the southbound safari exploring the Okavango, Savute and Chobe riverfront. The fully serviced camp is distinct to the semi-participation tours in that it requires no guest participation and tents are larger, feature camp beds and a simple en-suite bathroom. The maximum guests per vehicle is 9 ensuring a window seat for all.
Muchenje is a charming owner-run lodge perched on the edge of an escarpment in the Chobe Forest Reserve with superb views of the floodplains. Its main draw is the peaceful location, being on the quieter western side of Chobe National Park, a huge advantage over most kasane lodges. Muchenje is a simple and traditional lodge, a little gem, offering an affordable well located base to explore Chobe in peace with a good range of activities.
The Pangolin Voyager is a delightful houseboat offering boat safaris on the Chobe River. Small but perfectly formed, with 5 rooms, this lovely houseboat is available on an exclusive use only, making it ideal for families and groups. Boating safaris take place on the specially designed motorboat which accompanies the Voyager. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore the Chobe river in your own floating home away from the crowds on land.
The Zambezi Queen offers a safari from a different perspective as you float along the banks of the Chobe River. This luxury boutique houseboat offers two and three day boat safaris, with excellent game viewing from the tender boats and on deck. The luxurious cabins maximize views with large windows and each features a private deck. Zambezi Queen captures the ethos of a slow safari and is the perfect start or end to any African adventure.
The three charming houseboats which make up The Chobe Princess fleet are a popular option for those wanting to focus on the Chobe riverfront safari experience. These boats are smaller and more simple than their bigger, and more luxurious sister, the Zambezi Queen Houseboat, but this also allows them to travel twice the distance up the Chobe River. Tender boats offer superb game viewing opportunities. Scheduled departs allow for 2, 3 or 4 night floating safaris.
The long established Bush Ways Safaris provide a variety of mobile safari adventures across northern Botswana and the Okavango Delta. Bushways offer three mobile safari types, semi participation, fully serviced and accommodated safaris, covering a variety of itineraries and provide a cost effective way of visiting northern Botswana. Bush Ways Safaris also offer private and tailored safaris.
A luxurious air-conditioned lodge overlooking the Chobe River, Sanctuary’s Chobe Chilwero lodge offers panoramic views of the floodplains. A small, sophisticated and peaceful sanctuary with spa treatments and gourmet meals, this a sophisticated safari option. Chobe Chilwero offers a refined base to experience the abundance of wildlife and large elephant population in the Chobe region with game drives in Chobe National Park and sundowner cruises on the Chobe River in specialised boats
One of Botswana’s most famous and much-loved safari lodges, Chobe Game Lodge boasts the finest location in Chobe being the only lodge located within Chobe National Park itself. The Lodge lies on the banks of the mighty Chobe River in a particularly pretty setting and offers a luxurious base for exploring Chobe. This smart, slick but immensely friendly and welcoming lodge has a full range of facilities and a fantastic team to look after you.
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