Visiting Chobe National Park and its lush nature
Chobe National Park is situated in the northwest of Botswana and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and popular life and game reserve throughout Africa.
The area was first protected as a game reserve in 1961 and proclaimed as a national park in 1968 to preserve its unique flora and fauna. Chobe National Park is the third-largest conservation area of Botswana, and it has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa.
The park is well known for its elephants, currently estimated at around 120.000, and boasts lions, cheetahs, hippos, hyenas, crocodiles, buffaloes, giraffes, warthogs, otters, zebras, antelopes, jackals and many bird species.
The best time to visit the Park is during the dry season, from June to October, when significant herds of elephants, buffalos, zebras, giraffes, impalas and others gather along the river.
The rainy season, which runs from November to March, is an excellent time to visit the park if you want to spot birds and see baby animals, as this is when they are born, but at the same time, it could be a bit risky.
In fact, during our last visit around Botswana in June 2017, we found out that a part of Chobe Park and the Moremi Game Reserve was temporarily closed during March and April due to the heavy rains that stroke the area and most of the park tracks road were flooded. Anyways it said it was an extraordinary event, the heaviest of the last 30 years.
Chobe National Park covers an area of 10.566 square kilometres and can be divided up into four sections with different habitats, making it a true rarity and an explorer’s paradise.
Serondela with lush plains and dense forests in the extreme north-east River area; the sprawling wetland and savannah that make up the Savuti Marsh area in the west; the inland delta with islands, streams and shallow of Linyanti Swamps in the north-west and the “hot dry surroundings” in between the other three.
The most accessible area of the Park is the Chobe Riverfront (Serondela section). This is also where you will find the largest concentration of wildlife. Here, the town of Kasane is next to Sedudu Gate, the main entrance gate in the northeast riverfront area (80 km from Zambia and Zimbabwe border), and its location makes an excellent base for visiting the park.
We’ve visited Botswana and Chobe National Park twice, and without a doubt, we can tell that it was a beautiful experience not to be missed. One of the most engaging activities that you can experience in the Chobe Riverfront area is the sunset cruise along the Chobe River to spot the wildlife from the water.
Here you’ll see elephants streaming to the river banks for their last drink, large herds of buffalo bathing in the river, zebras, giraffes, impalas and hippos with Nile crocodiles are also easy to sight basking in the sun.
Birdwatching is also excellent during the cruise with common sightings of Fish eagles, Kingfishers, African Darters and other waders and water birds.
We were lucky during our cruise because we could spot a leopard walking on the bank and disappearing into the bush. Elephants also frequently cross the river to the islands where the grass is lush green all year-round.
Almost at the end of the trip on our way back, it was stunning to admire the sunset disappearing into the horizon when its warm orange rays colour the river and the banks with huge elephants in the background.
During the two safaris that we had into the Serondela section, one in the early morning and the other in the afternoon, mostly done along the track roads that line the river, we spotted any wildlife but above all three lions resting under the sun and a big group of elephants eating grass next to the river.
Kasane is also the starting point to visit the other Park sections, with no doubt much wilder than the Chobe riverfront that is the most touristic and visited area.
During our trip, we went through the Park for three days camping at Mwandi view and Savuti and leaving the park through the south gate of Mababe, along the route that connects with Moremi Game Reserve.
Need to Know about Chobe NP
1) When to go
The best time to visit Botswana is the dry season’s peak, from June to September/October. This period is the peak safari time in Botswana. During the day, it is warm (around 25 degrees), but the temperature can drop to 10 degrees or less at night.
2) How to get there
Kasane is only a few kilometres from the Zambia and Zimbabwe border, then the closest international airports are Livingston (Zambia), or Victoria falls town (Zimbabwe). Kasane has its airport, but we could find only 1 flight a day from Jo’burg.
Usually, all the tours around Botswana start with the majestic Victoria Falls visit, a wonder of nature and highlight of Africa’s southern part. No doubt, the best choice is to book the trip with a local tour operator because they usually use open-sided 4×4 vehicles and the drivers know every corner of the Parks, and they also have excellent knowledge of the wildlife. The budget alternative is to rent your car in nearby Kasane and drive yourself around Chobe National Park, although it is advisable to rent a 4×4 and above all have some knowledge about the off-road drive.
4) Tour Operators
If you are looking for a good tour operator to visit Botswana or the countries of the southern part of Africa, we suggest Undhuvu Safari and Tours.
You can also check with Desert and Delta safaris, Kalahari Tours, Afro-trek Safaris or Cape Fig Safaris. If you are a professional photographer or a photography enthusiast you can also check with Pangolin Photographic Safaris.
5) Where to sleep
The best way to enjoy Botswana is with your tent sleeping in the Park’s campsites, which is also the best budget choice. There are only a few campsites at Savuti, Linyanti and Ihaha, but you can also find some Lodge. Have a look for campsites and Lodge by clicking here.
In Kasane, there is a wide range of accommodations, and the lodges have even an area with all the facilities where you can camp with your tent. We slept at Chobe Safari Lodge with our tent. You can book the cruise and also the game drive with 4×4 open-sided vehicles through your accommodation (usually around 40$ pp each). In case you have your kitchen stuff and you decide to rent a gas cylinder, you’ll find a big supermarket in Kasane (next to the Chobe Safari Lodge).
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