Visiting Chobe National Park and its lush nature

Chobe National Park is situated in the north-west 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 for all other types of African wildlife like lions, cheetahs, hippos, hyena, crocodile, buffaloes, giraffes, warthogs, otters, zebras, antelopes, jackals and many bird species.

Chobe River, Botswana
Chobe River, Botswana

The best time to visit the Park is during the dry season, from June to October, that is when significant concentrations of elephants, buffalos, zebras, giraffes, impalas and others gather along the river to drink.

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 were temporary closed during March and April due to the heavy rains that stroke the area and the most of the park tracks road were flooded.

Anyways it said it was an extraordinary event, the heaviest of the last 30 years.

Lions resting under the sun at Chobe National Park, Botswana
Lions resting under the sun at Chobe National Park, Botswana

Chobe National Park covers an area of 10,566 square kilometres and can be divided up into four sections with different habitat, 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.

Elephant crossing the river at Chobe National Park
Elephant crossing the river at Chobe National Park

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.

Hippos bathing in Chobe River, Botswana
Hippos bathing in Chobe River, Botswana

We’ve visited Botswana and Chobe National Park twice, and with no 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.

Birding is also great during the cruise with common sightings of Fish eagles, Kingfishers, African Darters and other waders and water birds.

Leopard walking on the river bank at Chobe National Park, Botswana
Leopard walking on the river bank at Chobe National Park, Botswana

During our cruise, we were fortunate because we could spot a leopard walking on the bank and disappearing in 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 with its warm orange rays colour the river and the banks with the huge elephants in the background.

Nile Crocodile resting in the wet grass, Chobe National Park
Nile Crocodile resting in the wet grass, Chobe National Park

During the two game drives in 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.

Sunset along the river with elephants at Chobe National Park, Botswana
Sunset along the river with elephants at Chobe National Park, Botswana

Kasane is also the starting point to visit the other sections of the Park, with no doubt much more wild that the Chobe riverfront that is the most touristic and visited area.

During our trip, we went throughout 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.

Giraffes during a game drive at Chobe National Park, Botswana
Giraffes during a game drive at Chobe National Park, Botswana

Need to Know

1) When to go

The best time to visit Botswana is the peak of the dry season, from June to September/October. This period is the peak safari time in Botswana. During the day it is warm (around 25 degrees) but at night the temperature can drop to 10 degrees or less. 

2) How to get there

Kasane it’s 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.

3) Tips

Usually, all the tours around Botswana start with the visit of the majestic Victoria Falls, a wonder of nature and highlight of the southern part of Africa. With 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.

If you are visiting Victoria Falls, the web Platforms as Getyourguide and Viator offer some day trip packages (or longer) for attending the Chobe National Park.

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 you 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 and its wild nature is with your tent sleeping in the campsites of the Park 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 clicking here.

In Kasane, there is a wide range of accommodations, and usually, also the lodges allow you to sleep with your tent in their campsites ground. We slept at Chobe Safari Lodge with our tent. You can book the cruise and also the game drive with 4×4 open-sides 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).



Booking.com


6) Guide book

Lonely Planet is always our favourite guide book.

7) Are you looking for the best websites and companies to save money with?

Check out our Travel Resources for the best companies to use for arranging your trip! And don’t forget your Travel Insurance.

 

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