Forming the northern boundary of the Chobe National Park as well as much of Botswana's border with Namibia's Caprivi Strip, the Chobe River is an integral part of the Botswana safari experience and combines easily with the Okavango Delta and Kalahari. The river can also be accessed from its Namibian side, and its close proximity to Victoria Falls means easy day trips both ways.
Rising in the Angolan highlands and then twisting along geological fault lines as it winds its way to the Zambezi River, the Chobe is flanked by riverine forests, floodplains and open woodlands. Only a few dozen kilometres of riverfront are accessible, either by 4X4 or boat, but the rewards are huge: the Chobe River is the scene for some of the best game viewing in Southern Africa as well as providing a safe haven for the continent's greatest concentration of elephants.
Plan your Chobe River safari carefully: the best time to visit the Chobe River is during Botswana's dry season - April to October - when game concentrations are at their highest. Indeed, the later into the season you leave your visit, the greater the density of animals: expect huge herds of elephant and buffalo, many antelope and classic plains game species, plus a full range of predators - lion, wild dog, crocodile, cheetah, leopard and spotted hyena. This is undoubtedly the best time to go as the risk from malaria is low; the weather close to perfect; and the game viewing is virtually unparalleled.
The abundance of game is less marked during the December - March rainy season as animals move away from the river. You won't see massive concentrations of animals during these green summer months but the resident wildlife - hippos, crocodiles, antelope species and predators - are still present. The bird watching, already amazing during the dry winter period, becomes phenomenal as many summer migrants arrive and the bird list swells to almost 500 species.
There are several accommodation options in the Chobe River area but note that only one lodge - Chobe Game Lodge - is actually located in the Chobe National Park; the others are located close to the park or on the Namibian side of the river. All lodges offer a range of activities to explore the area - game drives, boat safaris and sunset river cruises - and the accommodation is of a very high standard.
TRAVEL BLOG POST