Ultimate Guide to a Chobe Safari

If you want to see as many wild African elephants as possible – like herds of epic proportions – it’s seriously tough to beat Chobe at the end of Botswana’s dry season. The rainless winter begins in May and, by September and October, Chobe National Park is completely parched, driving gigantic concentrations of animals (especially elephant and buffalo) to the Chobe River.

Naturally the large predators follow suit, like prides of hungry lions looking for any opportunity to kill. This makes for sensational up-close photography, particularly on boating safaris amid snoozing hippos and titanic crocs. The Chobe River undeniably provides the stage for some of the best boat-based game viewing on the planet.

Quick safari facts

Quick Chobe Safari Facts

 

  • Home to the biggest population of elephants on Earth – over 120 000.
  • Chobe River delivers some of the best safari boat cruises in the world.
  • Supports among the greatest concentrations of game in all of Africa.
  • A top-class birdwatching destination with over 450 species.
  • The Savuti area is one of the best places in Africa to witness rip-roaring predator action.

By October, only puddles remain, forcing all game down to the Chobe River.

Where to Go

Where to Go: The Best Safari Destinations in Chobe

 

Chobe National Park lies in the northern part of Botswana and is about the size of Northern Ireland. It stretches along the magnificent Chobe River, which forms Botswana’s natural border with Namibia. Habitats found within the park range from floodplains, woodlands and baobab trees to lush flood grasslands and thickets along the river.

The Chobe National Park area can be divided into three main safari destinations:

1. Chobe River

The popular Chobe riverfront or Serondela area consists of lush floodplains and dense forests that attract colossal numbers of elephant and buffalo. It’s also a vital watering spot for the majority of the park’s wildlife, including the rare puku antelope. It’s about 100 kilometres or 62 miles from Victoria Falls, which makes day trips to the world’s biggest waterfall a breeze.

Why go:

  • Enormous herds of elephant and buffalo congregate along the banks during the late dry season (between August and October).
  • The best water-based game viewing in Southern Africa with superb angles for wildlife photography.
  • Excellent riverside lodges and luxurious houseboats like the Chobe Princesses or Zambezi Queen.

Where to stay:

Our Africa Safari Experts say...

‘Because Chobe is a national park, it can get very busy during peak safari season, especially from July to October. I’d suggest staying at Chobe Game Lodge – it’s the only safari lodge situated in the park, which means that you’ll have about an hour’s head start over the crowds during morning game drives.’ – Lee-Anne Kock

 

2. Savuti

Situated in the mid-west of the park and usually accessed by light aircraft, the Savuti Marsh area is considered by many safari aficionados as Botswana’s ‘predator capital’. This mysterious, off-the-beaten-track region is fed by the ephemeral Savuti Channel and is made up of rich grasslands, savannah woodland and hundreds of spectral dead trees along the channel’s bank. This is where large lion prides regularly clash with hyena clans for food and territory, and mighty lions take down Africa’s biggest beasts like buffalo and even elephant. These epic battles have been well documented in numerous wildlife documentaries. The Savuti lions are often extremely muscular, well-developed and powerful because they often hunt in the water and thick mud of the marsh.

Why go:

  • Renowned for dramatic predator action.
  • Remote area away from the crowds.
  • Permanent waterholes ensure wildlife remains all year.

Where to stay:

3. Linyanti

Adjoining the western part of Chobe, wedged between the Okavango Delta and Namibia’s Caprivi, the remote Linyanti Wildlife Reserve’s marshes and dry woodlands provide a haven for big concentrations of game – especially elephant and buffalo. The Linyanti River and its spreading floodplains offer some of the best birdwatching in Southern Africa, harbouring many rarities (African skimmers, narina trogons and slaty egrets) and majestic birds of prey (Verreaux’s eagles, little banded and gabor goshawks, and African eagle-hawks).

Why go:

  • One of Southern Africa's best birdwatching destinations.
  • Exclusive safari experiences offered by three private reserves in the region.
  • Excellent wild dog sightings.
  • Off-road game driving for close-up encounters that are not permitted in the national park.

Where to stay:

When to Go

Our Africa Safari Experts say...


‘If you’re looking for a land- and water-based safari away from the peak-season crowds, consider the private reserves and concessions like Linyanti, Kwando or Selinda. They also offer a more exclusive experience and activities that are not permitted in Chobe National Park, like nature walks and night game drives.’ – Liesel van Zyl

 

When to Go: The Best Time of Year for a Chobe Safari

 

Most safari goers visit Chobe National Park during its dry season (about May to October). This is when ever-increasing numbers of water-dependent animals like elephant, buffalo and predators amass along the Chobe River and in the Savuti region. From about August to October it’s bone-dry and very hot in Chobe, but if you can handle the heat, you’ll be rewarded with Planet Earth’s crème de la crème of game-viewing.

PEAK SAFARI SEASON LOW / GREEN SEASON
When Winter: about May to October Summer: about November to April
Weather May to July is dry with cold nights, but temperatures rise rapidly from about August to October. Warm with afternoon thunderstorms.
Highlights
  • Close-up encounters with huge herds of elephant and buffalo.
  • Fantastic predator sightings like lion, wild dog and leopard.
  • Sensational birding – over 450 species, including migrants.
  • Impala birthing season (great for predators).
  • The zebra migration.
Rates High Low
Cost & Budget

What Does a Chobe Safari Cost?

 

It’s not easy to give exact costs for any safari. At Go2Africa, we prefer tailor-making an itinerary that makes sense for your specific travel needs – hence no safari is ever the same. Some of the variables that can influence your safari budget are:

  • The time of year you travel.
  • The level of luxury you want to have.
  • Driving or flying between destinations.
  • Staying in a public park or private concession.

The following Chobe safari costs are guidelines only and based on a price-per-person-per-night, including accommodation and transfers:

4-STAR COMFORT 4-STAR LUXURY 5-STAR LUXURY
Low High Low High Low High
$450 $600 $600 $950 - $1050 $1100 $1350 - $2200

The more budget you have available, the more private and exclusive you can go on safari. The biggest benefit of staying in a private concession – other than personalised service and luxurious accommodation – is the quality of game viewing on offer (not of the wildlife but of the actual experience). Chobe National Park can get extremely busy during peak safari season (about July to October) and most of the time you’ll share animal sightings with other vehicles and groups, including self-drivers and day-trippers. A private safari offers you a private guide, vehicle and an exclusive-use slice of pristine wilderness to traverse.

Connect with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help you plan a Chobe safari itinerary:

Combines Well With...

Chobe Combines Well With…

 

Kasane International Airport is less than a 10-minute drive from Chobe National Park’s gate – unless you see game along the way! It connects easily with Johannesburg via daily flights, which in turn connects the rest of the African continent. A 2-hour road transfer will get you from Kasane to Victoria Falls, where you can encounter the world’s biggest waterfall and catch a connecting flight from Victoria Falls Airport.

DESTINATION WHY GO
Okavango Delta
  • Fantastic mokoro (dugout canoe) safaris
  • Luxurious and exclusive accommodation
  • Private concessions with no crowds
Central Kalahari
  • The annual zebra migration
  • Unique wildlife like pangolin, aardwolf and meerkat
  • Gorgeous scenery and sublime stargazing in Makgadikgadi
Victoria Falls
  • See the biggest waterfall on Earth
  • Tranquil riverside lodges and boat cruises on the Zambezi River
Zimbabwe
  • Great big game viewing
  • Off-the-beaten-path safari experiences
Zambia
  • Fantastic walking safaris
  • Raw and remote beauty
Kruger
  • Among the world’s best Big 5 sightings
  • Luxurious lodges in some of the best private game reserves in Africa
Cape Town
  • World-class beaches and wine valleys
  • Visits to Table Mountain and Cape Point

Our Africa Safari Experts say...

‘Consider combining Chobe and the Okavango Delta in a Botswana itinerary. Chobe offers a great starting point with consistent game viewing, big herds of elephants and buffalo, and good accommodation. The Delta then takes you away from the crowds – giving you a more exclusive, wilderness-type experience.’ – Mark Smith

Best for...

Traveller Types: Chobe is Best For…

 

Because Chobe is such an easy add-on to any Southern African safari itinerary, it’s a great destination for first-time visitors to Africa and seasoned safari aficionados will love Savuti’s dramatic game viewing. Chobe is also great for wildlife enthusiasts and avid wildlife photographers. We also recommend Chobe for families travelling with children over 12 years old.

  • Budget conscious travellers: less extravagant experience than the Okavango Delta.
  • Keen photographers: unique, eye-level angles offered on boat safaris.
  • Wildlife enthusiasts: some of the most up-close game viewing in Africa.
  • Birdwatchers: tick off over 450 species.
Health & Safety

Health and Safety

 

Botswana is a safe destination to visit and we’ve been helping travellers discover the magical Chobe National Park since 1998.

Vaccination requirements may vary from country to country and we always recommend consulting your local travel clinic or GP for up-to-date information. Chobe falls in Southern Africa’s malaria belt and prophylaxis is recommended – especially if you travel during the wetter months (November to April) and planning cultural tours to rural villages.

 

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