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Botswana - Chobe National Park

Botswana’s Chobe National Park is an expansive, varied and unmissable treasure.

Best known for its enormous elephants, which roam the grasslands in herds of hundreds, the park is also one of Africa’s greatest destinations for wildlife watching.

Drawn to the area by the wetlands of the Chobe River, the concentration of game is one of the densest on the continent and is especially vibrant during the dry season from April through October.

The sheer diversity of mammals that congregate around the river will impress those who approach by four wheels, but travellers keen on getting even closer to the wildlife should take a boat up the river. Adventurers looking for a more authentic experience will be keen to take to the water in a mokoro, Botswana’s traditional canoe, so they can glide past the buffalos, hippos and giraffes refreshing on the banks.

The scale of the Chobe National Park means it’s an expanse of contrasts. Travellers that head south to Savuti will feel like they’re on the most African of sarafis with the landscape recast as dusty terrain, torched grass and terrific orange sunsets.

Here, the plains become the prowling grounds of the big cats with lions, cheetahs and leopards all on the hunt for migrating zebras, wildebeest and impala. Botswana has riches for all.

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A luxurious riverside retreat located in the heart of the bush, with the only full spa on the Botswana safari circuit.
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This delightful lodge overlooking the Chobe River and Caprivi Floodplains is the only permanent game lodge within the Chobe National Park.
muchenje_lodge
Muchenje is an intimate, privately owned lodge situated at the western boundaries of the famous Chobe National Park. The lodge has stunning panoramic views overlooking the Chobe River and floodplains.
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Perched on the edge of a valley, the view of the Chobe River and the open floodplains from the your private room and plunge pool is unrivalled in the area.
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The Zambezi Queen is a boutique floating hotel offering unsurpassed elegance and luxurious comfort. You can enjoy a truly unique and adventurous river safari holiday while still being surrounded by luxury.
chobe_bush_lodge
Situated in Kasane directly on the border of Chobe National Park and within 150m of Chobe River. Right on the doorstep of four African countries (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia), Chobe Bush Lodge is an excellent gateway location to Chobe, Vic...
elephant_valley_lodge
The camp is situated along a route that elephants use as they wander from Zimbabwe to Namibia through Botswana.
savute_safari_lodge
This intimate safari lodge combining modern and African décor, is located in an area known for its population of bull elephants.
chobe_bakwena_lodge
Chobe Bakwena Lodge is an eco-luxury retreat on the banks of the Chobe River, near the village of Kazangula. Bakwena, meaning 'people of the crocodile', are the largest tribe in Botswana.
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Located high on the edge of a rocky ridge overlooking the famous Chobe River is the delightful Chobe Elephant Camp.
chobe_safari_lodge
A large, international style lodge on the border of Chobe National Park.
kubu_lodge
At Kubu Lodge, named after the Setswana word for hippo,you are assured of a warm and friendly welcome, in true Botswana style.

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Chobe National Park, located in northern Botswana, has one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. As well as being Botswana’s first national park, it is also its most biologically diverse, boasting various ecosystems that support an astonishing range of wildlife.  

There are four main areas within the park:

  • The Serondela area – lush floodplains and deep woodlands lie along the banks of the mighty Chobe River, which is an essential watering spot for the animals in the national park.  
  • The Savuti Marsh area – marshland, broad savannahs and wild grasslands provide ample habitats for the varied wildlife living in the area.
  • The Linyanti Marsh area – dense woodlands, lagoons and floodplains, intersected by the Linyanti River and the Kwando River, which are filled with healthy populations of hippos and crocodiles.
  • The Hinterland area – grassy woodland with a hot and dry climate; the perfect home for the eland antelope. 

Before Chobe was established as a national park, the area was inhabited by the San Bushmen: nomadic tribesmen who moved around the area to find sufficient food sources. Even today, there are many San paintings that exist inside rocky hills within the park, a reminder of the indigenous people that once lived there.

In 1931, an area of 24000km2 was sectioned off as a no hunting zone in order to protect the wildlife there. This was later extended to 31600 km2 two years later. However, Chobe was not officially declared a national park until 1967. By this time, the park had decreased in size to 11700 km2 and human activity within the area continued to be prolific, particularly within the timber industry. By 1975, Chobe National Park was fully established as a protected area, independent from human intervention. Today, it continues to be a safe haven for animal life and sees thousands of tourists come to admire its vast plains and diverse wildlife every year.   

Chobe National Park is home to an incredible elephant population, with over 50,000 of these gentle giants roaming the plains. Chobe is also the perfect place to view the rest of the Big Five too: rhinoceros, lions, buffalo and leopards can all be spotted throughout the park.

Other large mammals such as giraffes, zebra, hyenas, antelopes, wildebeest and hippopotamus also reside in the park, presenting some of the best animal life Africa has to offer. To top it all off, the rivers and marsh areas are filled with crocodiles and also showcase rich birdlife, with over 450 species to find in and among the trees and bushes.

Chobe National Park offers exceptional wildlife viewing all year round. Although there are two main seasons, visiting the park at any time of year will still give you an incredible experience.

Dry season – May to October

Animals are much easier to spot during the dry season because the vegetation is less dense and they tend to congregate around waterholes and rivers.  Even though the dry season is peak season, Chobe doesn’t get as crowded as some other national parks. However, the Chobe River can get very busy as it’s one of the best places to spot a multitude of animals. Mornings and evenings can get very cold, so wearing warmer clothes on early morning game drives is advisable, particularly in June, July and August.

Wet season – November to April

The wet season is characterised by increased rains. This causes the vegetation to be a lot greener and denser, which may hinder you in finding some animals but shouldn’t affect your experience too much. Newly born animals and migratory birds can be spotted at this time, providing you with excellent opportunities to take that perfect safari photograph.

January and February are the wettest months of the season, sometimes raining for days on end. This may cause flooding in some areas and could mean that certain camps and lodges will be closed, so it’s important to check this before you travel. October and November are Botswana’s hottest months and may not be ideal for visiting as many game drives require you to sit out in the sun for hours while searching for wildlife.

Chobe National Park offers a range of activities for its many visitors. Heading out on a game drive is the perfect way to see wildlife in their natural habitat. As well as the great species diversity on offer, Chobe’s gorgeous landscapes and varied ecosystems are a truly spectacular sight.

For a more unique animal experience, you can traverse the Chobe River on a sunset cruise. Travelling on the water will give you the best opportunity to see the many birds, hippos and crocodiles that make the river their home. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see a herd of elephants cross the river as they make their way to their evening grazing areas.

For a taste of authentic Botswana culture, visit a traditional tribal village. Once there you can observe how customary practices have been passed down for generations and learn about the cultural heritage of the region. 

Top Itineraries

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Chobe National Park

2 Nights

A safari on the banks of the Chobe River, with a choice of two fantastic lodges.

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Desert & Delta - Northern Parks

10 Nights

This superb ten-night safari takes you on a journey of discovery of Botswana's northern highlights - Chobe National Park, Savute, Moremi Game Reserve and Makgadikgadi Pans, and includes the magnificent Victoria Falls.

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