Chobe National Park
Top Attractions in Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park in the early 19th century was initially a hunting and teak wood harvesting ground partitioned as crownland by the British colonial administrators of Botswana. In 1930 Sir Charles Rey (1877-1968) set foot on this sweet-smelling wildlife frontier and he was astonished by the vast sheer wildlife beauty that he was immersed in and in equal measure he was as well dismayed by the vulgar selfish destructive activities of hunting and lumbering in the area. This prompted him to propose to the British administrators of Botswana that the area should be protected from the vulgar destructive activities, a proposal that was duly acted upon with the area being set aside as a conservation area months later in the same year. And three decades later after much ado in 1967 it was elevated to a national park, a first in Botswana.
Around about the size of Northern Ireland, this overly 12,000 square kilometres of pristine wildlife jewel (third in size after Kgalakgadi Transfrontier Park and the largest of them all Central Kalahari Game reserve in Botswana) is located in the northern part of Botswana where the country meets Angola, Namibia and Zambia with the park’s gates just a shy 6 Km from the main gateway town of Kasane.
Chobe National Park has been aptly and fondly dubbed “the world capital of elephants” by a Dina Fine Maron’s 2019 National Geographic publication that estimates the park to be awash with well over 130,000 Kalahari elephants, the largest of its kind! Whose major distinction is the unrivalled body size and a rather short tusk and brittle ivory caused partly by a deficiency of calcium in the soils of their habitat. The elephants overwhelming population in Chobe national park and other vast wildlife is partly due to the geolocation of the park since it lies on the open migratory routes to Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta that is infamous for being densely populated with wildlife and to Zimbabwe’s Hwange game Reserve coupled with the areas lifeline perennial river of many names, river Chobe that passes through the north eastern part of the park before heading into river Zambezi. Not forgetting the highly regarded world renown wildlife conservative efforts of the government of Botswana that are in line with the United Nations(UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 15 “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”.
Chobe national game park is the flagship of Botswana’s safari as well as Africa safari and rightfully so because it has the highest game density in Africa and it is home to Africa’s big five (buffalo, lion, elephant, leopard and rhino) and in record breaking numbers except for the rhinos whose statistics have nose-dived over time rendering them scarce in the park. However, restoration efforts in nearby conservation areas like Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Mashatu Game Reserve and Mokolodi Nature Reserve are on-going to rejuvenate their statistics.
Additionally the park is laden with other animals like the waterbucks, impalas, waterbucks, kudus, warthogs, zebras, wildebeests (gnus), kirk dik-diks, kirkspringers, giraffes, crocodiles, cheetahs, hyenas, African wild dogs and many more other animals all in tremendous numbers distributed all over the regions of the park, worthy mentioning is that the carnivores in this pristine wildlife paradise have a speciality for taking down big games like buffalos, wildebeests and elephants since they are in plenty.
Furthermore, with the riverine vegetation, broadleaf forests, marshes, lagoons, savannah bushes and woodlands dotted all over Chobe National Park, the park is a bird sanctuary with the highest density of birds the South of Africa, despite Botswana having no mountain ranges and only low-lying hills which implies that it has no endemic birds except the one and only near endemic Short-toed Lark. That said Chobe National park has well over 450 bird species registered in the park where the colourful therapeutic feathered fellas like the bateleur eagles, the white-fronted bee-eaters, the carmine bee-eaters, the giant kingfishers, the green-backed herons, the pied kingfishers, the great white egrets, the Pel's fishing owls, the weird Marabou storks, the African fish eagles, the pallid harriers, the grey-headed gulls, the vulnerable lappet-faced vultures, the malachite kingfishers, the kori bustards (Africa's largest flying bird), the near threatened Palearctic migrants, the near threatened African skimmers and many more other birds are such a delightful spectacle through be it an avid birder’s or a regular visitor’s binoculars like many of us plus bird watching cruises on the Chobe River are an absolute stunner that adds a refreshing twist to ordinary birding experiences making chobe national park an absolute African birding safari destination coupled with fishing in the tranquil blue waters of river Chobe kissed by the beautiful African sun.
Chobe national park is divided into four distinct regions that have unique ecosystems and thus harbouring various wildlife species and different African safari activities and experiences. The north eastern region called the chobe riverfront or Serondela is the most accessible since it’s the nearest to the gateway town of Kasane which is equally in close proximity with the Zimbabwean Victoria falls a 7th of the world. The lands in this section of the park are dark and fertile laden with mopane woodlands, thick forests of mahogany and teak, riverine vegetation, grasslands, lagoons, marshlands plus river chobe from which the park is christened nestles through the north eastern part of this region bordering Namibia supplying a perennial steady supply of water before depositing in River Zambezi what remains of it making this area a favourite for most of the wildlife that throng the river banks especially during the dry seasons to have a drink a bite and cool off. So watch out for the gargantuan herds of elephants munching away on the lush riverine grass, the hippos bobbing in the water, the crocodiles sun bathing, the water bucks drinking water water nervously because innately they know the predators are many and not very far. Many other animals birding in this region of the park is impeccable with thousands of birds mainly taking sanctuary on the shores of the river and other sanctuaries like the wetlands and forests. Be sure not to miss out on birds like the ibis, the slaty egrets, the lesser gallinules, the carmine bee-eaters, the storks and the rock pratincoles better still there is a twist to the birding experience in this area with boat cruises that allow one to be serenaded in every sense and direction while water floating with a throng of water birds and those at the shores giving the visitors a delightful view of the feathered fellas in the backdrop of blue waters kissed by a beautiful sunrise or sunset a psychedelic experience so to speak making the area a top African birding destination.
A game drive that will be punctuated with animal stops especially elephants crossing the roads in large families intriguingly shaking the grounds every few meters drive while shaking and a boat cruise for the other half of the tour will leave the visitors in awe of the amazing sceneries and wildlife encounters in this area and the icing on the cake will be a night treat of grandiose hospitality on the pampering houseboats on river chobe, nothing like a floating chobe national park night with a diamond lit large sky beautifully reflecting off the tranquil waters amidst beautiful sounds of bird chirps, insect screeches, barking zebras and a cold breeze with a belly full of splendid dinner.
Then to the west of Chobe River front is the Linyati marsh in the northwest corner of the park which extends right to the Okavango Delta to its south, the linyati swamps are irrigated by the linyati river which further west reach the Kwando River in Namibia’s Nkasa Rupara National park. This region of the park is majorly made of swamps, lagoons and woodlands that are a perfect sanctuary for Hippos, crocodiles that thrive in the muddy environs of swamps plus many other animals not forgetting the plentiful predators like crocodiles, african wild dogs, cheetahs, hyenas that are nosily on the lookout for the plentiful twitchy herbivores munching away on the sumptuous swampy vegetation of the area.
The picturesque in this vast linyeti Kwando and selinda region of the park is quite an eyeful, with beautiful river channels marvellously lined with riverine vegetation, the emerald green lagoons not forgetting the evergreen erect papyrus a sanctuary for breeding birds hence visitors to this region of the park should have their binoculars in hand for the multi coloured feathered fellas are ready to put on a birding show like never before and during the dry seasons the perennial waters of linyati river and Kwando river act as an important migration magnetic point that draws a multitude of game in this remote region. Due to its remoteness serene flying safaris are the in thing moving visitors around the region and to their pampering lodging facilities and worthy to note game drives are limited since most of the areas of the region are private wildlife franchises.
The 4,000 square miles of Savuti marshes region of the park sometimes called Savute located an overly 6-hour drive to the south western region of the park is largely a dry sun scorched barren expanse scared by the long decades of drought that occurred in this region characterised by eerie starkly beautiful dead tree remains in the back drop of a dusty barren atmosphere and rocky outcrops. Eons ago this area was a lake however due to tectonic movements the water supply to the region was cut short starving the region of water for a very long time until the Savuti channel due to tectonic earth movements in the beginning of 2010 started irrigating the the Savuti marshes again a feat that had last been witnessed in 1982 hence due to this sudden change of events in the region the the Savuti channels are now laden with trunks of ancient beautiful dead trees grasslands, and extensive savannahs basically a mix of swamps and arid land depending on how the savute channel irrigates the area a thing that has made the wildlife adapt to the new norm and a sudden surge of wildlife activities in the area with throngs of breeding elephants only staying in the region for only three months before the first rains whilst the rest of the elephants are resident for the rest of the year as such its mainly inhabited by bull elephants the grandpas, adult males and the spirited teenagers who will feign a ferocious charge at any intruder of the herd that will surely create an adrenalin pumping moment for any visitor in their midst and amidst the teenagers scare the older ones will look on like nothing is going on their body language saying don’t mind the youngster you are welcome. This area is equally laden with anxious herbivores like antelopes, wildebeests, zebras, buffalos, dikdiks and many others that need lots of space, fodder and water to thrive which of course is plentiful in this area this naturally attracts the predators the deadly cats hence the the elusive leopards and lions are plenty in this area coupled with wild dogs and in town are the artful hunters the cheaters and many other predators stalking the plentiful prey making this area the most ideal place to spot the big cats so visitors will be treated to the forever extraordinary hard-wearing bad blood between the lions and hyenas that will be on display for all sundry, worthy to mention is the rhinos despite their numbers being dismal they thrive in this area as well so be on the lookout for this priceless out of this world mammal sighting. Birding is equally a massive activity in these parts of town with various birds like the falcons, hawks, goshawks, eagles, kestrels, sparrows and ospreys are a common sighting in the Savuti expanse and once in this area don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Gobabis Hill that has ancient San (initial inhabitants of this area) rock paintings that are projected to be about 4 000 years’ old which are mostly paintings of livestock. Because of the regions remoteness air safaris are a predominant here coupled with game drive safaris as well.
Then finally the less renown Nogatsa region the least utilised of all the regions located in the middle of the Savuti marshes and linyati swamps its characterised by expanse woodlands savannah grasses with its soils mainly being clay it means during the dry seasons the area completely dries out and with assistance of artificial bore-holes water wells are pumped to sustain the wildlife in this area a thing that attracts elephants and other herbivores as well and of course the sly predators are present in this area.
The climaxes of chobe national park are the Kalahari elephants, proximity to Zimbabwe’s Victoria falls and the elite accommodation from the luxurious mobile camps, lodges, boathouses, cruise liners like the Zambezi Queen and hotels dotted all around the park mainly on river chobe and the kasane gateway town however the ECO friendly chobe lodge the only one in the park is the ace since its tucked right in the middle of the riverside wildlife theatrical action with pampering suites that have private pools and bars besides all the other rooms are facing the river and are air conditioned coupled with the exquisite dreamlike lounges on the suspended walkboard across the chobe river.
Top things you simply must do in Chobe National Park
Visit The Banks River Chobe
A river of many names as well as a sophiscated river system that even flows rearward in some sections starting off from the Angolan highlands as river cuando flowing through to Namibia’s caprivi swamp then running through the northern border of Botswana despositing some of its waters into Linyati swamp whilst changing into linyati eiver and moving onto the eastern part of the park and changing into Chobe river before merging with the zambezi river. This river in the park is blessed with fresh waters a nd emerald sumptuous vegetation that is sought by wildlife during the dry seasons since it is a perennial source of water in this area. The elephants are a permanent fixture swimming across the river and on the shorelines where they come to cool off and enjoy the sumptuous grass on the banks of the river other animals like hippos’ crocodiles, buffalos, waterbucks, impalas, lions, wild dogs all camp on the shores of the river making the banks of the river a safari game viewing hotspot. Its shores are laden with colourful birds that throng the lake for food and water and put on an awe-inspiring birding show that is unmatched and to spice up the thrill of birding a boating bird safari will give visitors a plethora of perfect birding pictures that are forever memorable from all angles in the backdrop of a full smiling sun reflecting off the the tranquil blue waters of the river, not forgetting the fishing sessions since the river is laden with lots of fish. Saving the best for last the boat houses and cruise liners floating on the river are a trance like thingamajig a once in a life time pampering of aquatic luxurious hospitality wildlife treat.
Stay at Chobe Game Lodge
Established in 1972 as a five star lodging the first of its kind in Botswana and the only lodging facility in the park in Chobe riverfront right in the thick of the magical wildlife theatrics. This tranquil luxurious lodging facility nestled in a mind-altering ambience and real mature well-manicured gardens boasts of over 44 tastefully deliberated air conditioned self-sufficient guest rooms with large balconies facing river chobe all serviced with a 24 hour 7 days a week dedicated pampering hospitality service. For those who want exclusivity combined with top notch luxury chobe game lodge has just the right option that comes in form of four ultra-luxurious suites each with its own secluded terrace and infinity dive pools all with dedicated exclusive on dial support staff who will ensure the visitors have a time of their lives in the wild aquatic frontiers of Chobe. The facility has got an unhindered hard to beat views of game on the banks of the river, the tranquil untamed emerald environs that are viewed from the deluxe lounges nestled high up on the boardwalk viewing deck. Bonus is the lodge is an ECO friendly facility with their cruise boats being electric and electricity for the facility being solar powered, not forgetting their world class fine dining experience served at several locations like the stylish Thwena cigar sports bar, the lounges of the boardwalk deck and the open walled buffet area on the river bank.
Take a Safari Game Drive
Africa safari Game viewing is obviously top priority for visitors to Chobe National Park with several ways of doing it with a majority opting for conventional jeep safaris with possibilities of self-drive for those on budget or on adventurous tours however the game drives will be more rewarding in company of our Chobe park knowledgeable guides who will make sure you meet your expectations far and beyond since they know when how and where to find the animals one wants to see and how to safely get in and get out. There are three game drives for best rewarding experiences that is the morning game drives, the late afternoon drives and the night game drives that reveal the nocturnal doings of wildlife which ever one chooses rest assured the park is laden with all the African big fives and many other animals all in ginormous numbers hence a game drive in Chobe is tremendous considering the the park is awash with unmatched numbers of wildlife and its beautiful landscape is well decorated with emerald vegetation for most of the year. The best times for game drives are May to October during the dry seasons for animals tend to congregate to the perennial water sources and besides the vegetation is thin making visibility easier.
Visit The African Villages
For those who watched gods must be crazy and would love to have a 6 D feel of how they live this is the village tour to offer just that so you can appreciate the simplicity of ubuntu life outside the western cash life, the tour will kick off with an early morning wooden canoe (called makoro in the san dialect) rowing journey to cross the river from one end to another then embark on foot into the tribal villages where one will go to experience the farming life in the farms with a family then retreat with them to their homes where they will fix a local meal for their visitor and offer to teach the visitor a thing or two about survival like making a fire without a matchbox or lighter, then next is we head to the artisan communities where traditional baskets are weaved even beautiful coloured clothes are weaved and other beautiful artefacts which one buys for a quick bargain as a souvenir and a thank you for the natives who keep the lands sustainably for future generations to enjoy as well, then it’s time to hit the social hotspots of the villages where you’ll enjoy hearing the clicking sounds of the San dialect as they converse away, sing and dance while partaking of their local brew which you will optionally partake then say your bye byes (gai gab in the local clicking dialect) to the newly made acquaintances, then retreat back to the fine warm hospitality pampering bellies of the lodge to cool down and replenish whilst reliving the authentic vintage village visit.
Wildlife Viewing Excursions
Chobe national park is unrivalled in wildlife density, with a staggering number of pachyderms numbers unrivalled on this planet with an estimated 130,000 Kalahari elephants and almost an equivalent number of Cape buffaloes, wildebeests, Zebras, Giraffes, Hippos that cause the grounds of chobe national park to always tremble in reverberation of the big inhabitants not forgetting the waterbucks, dikdiks, impalas, antelopes warthogs, the leguvaans (the second longest African lizard) and many more herbivores that equally attract a large number of predators like lions, leopards, cheetahs, african wild dogs, hyenas and many more other cats plus worth mentioning are the statistically few Rhinos recently reintroduced in 2011 in the Savute region of the park making chobe national park a certified big five African safari destination that’s unrivalled.
Birding in Chobe
Chobe national park crows of an overwhelming over 450 migratory, resident, terrestrial and aquatic bird species registered in the park, the highest density of birds south of the African continent plus the out of this world boat birding safari twist that the park offers an approach of birding so fresh and magical unlike any other. Birders and ordinary visitors should up their thrill for the delightful enchanting colourful feathered dramatics that is in abundance on the shores of river Chobe in the backdrop of the tranquil blue waters being beautifully kissed by the orange sunset or sundown thus chobe national park is no doubt an elite birders top destination. One should watch out for especially the short toed larks, the green-backed herons, the giant king fishers, the great white egrets and the Kori bustards (the heaviest flying African bird).
Take a Boat Safari
Chobe national park is world renowned for its epic sunset boat cruises ( boat safaris) an exceptional preference for photographers and birders for it offers an unimaginable beautiful animal and bird shots marinated with the tranquil blue waters being hugged by the warm orange sunset. The number of hippos and elephants cooling off in the waters the nervous waterbucks, crocodiles suffocating their prey and the multitude of birds create an experience that is heart swelling. These boat cruises will obviously go hand in hand with fishing since the river has plenty of fish so our guides will make sure fishing gear is on board so that the guests can hook themselves some dinner who knows it could be the celebrated tiger fish.
Experience an Air Safari
Since most of the regions within the park apart from chobe riverfront are remote and have got airstrips the visitors will utilise light winged aircrafts that will take them on an aerial exploit of the park to get to their various regions of the park allowing them a tantalising low flight floating birds view of the beautiful park which the pilots pull of effortlessly for they know which spots will awe their passengers and they will make sure they navigate through such spots and commentate about those amazing spots.