In the parched African bush, water is life. And on a Chobe safari, you’ll see the banks of the Chobe River teem with an awe-inspiring abundance of wildlife.
So many Chobe National Park animals
This is the “Land of the Giants” – so-named because it’s home to the world’s largest herds of elephants (more than 120,000 ellies).
The wonder of this place is that it’s not only elephants found here in prolific numbers.
Botswana is known for its wildlife; the “Land of the Giants” – better known as Chobe National Park, an unfenced 4,500-square-mile park in northern Botswana – is particularly famous for its huge herds of Cape buffalo, large prides of lions, countless antelope and pretty well every other African animal imaginable.
Indeed, Chobe boasts some of the best game viewing in Africa, with one of the greatest year-round concentrations of wildlife in the whole continent. You’ll see four of the “Big Five” animals in Chobe National Park – lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. The only one of the “Big Five” hard to spot is the rare rhinoceros.
Our exciting Chobe safari game drive
We’re on safari in Chobe National Park – on a game drive in an open Land Rover – bouncing along red-sand tracks criss-crossing the scrubby bush by the river.
Large Chacma baboons swinging through the trees quickly catch our attention.
Then a dazzle of zebras. (Don’t you love the name for a group of zebras? Their black and white stripes are certainly dazzling!)
We pass a bull elephant giving himself a dust bath with his trunk, his ears flapping.
When two male giraffes circle each other in what looks like a curious dance, we stop to watch; after each circle, they curl their sinewy necks down and bump the other’s body with their heads – playfighting, we’re told.
We can’t wait to see lions on our Chobe game drive. And we do!
Driving up to observe four resting in the shade, we’re amazed at how close the animals allow us to get. (Most safari viewing in Africa occurs on game drives, and the animals are habituated to the sight and sound of people sitting in open vehicles.)
When one lioness yawns, we can clearly see her fearsome teeth.
And the birds!
African fish eagle, ground hornbills, sacred ibis and the most beautiful, the lilac-breasted roller – in flight, the tips of their turquoise wings look like they’ve been dipped in royal blue ink.
So many animals and birds rotate through this kaleidoscope of nature that our necks get sore swiveling from right to left.
That they co-exist in harmony is a marvel too. With their tusked snouts, comical warthogs dig up mud which baboons then root around in with their nimble fingers, picking out juicy bulbs to eat. Antelope even prance around near the lions! At night, yes, the cats hunt. But now, it’s all one peaceful scene.
We love the Chobe elephants
Late in the afternoon, we leave our vehicle and take a riverboat.
We’re particularly excited at the prospect of seeing wild ellies in the water. We remember from a previous Chobe safari on the elegant Zambezi Queen how incredible it was that they would come almost within touching distance of us.
This time is equally wonderful.
We see the elephants in the shallow water, yanking out grasses with their trunks, waving their magnificent tusks as they shake the clumps clean to pop into their mouths.
Sometimes the elephants are so close we could almost reach out and touch their wrinkly skin. (Of course, we don’t.) We’re even at risk of getting sprayed with droplets of water when they drink!
Globally, their numbers are declining.
But here in the “Land of the Giants,” they are safe for future generations to witness and enjoy.
Weather in Chobe National Park
When is the best time to visit Chobe?
The dry season from May to early November – when the animals congregate around the river to drink – is the ideal time to visit the Chobe game reserve.
Best game viewing months in Chobe:
September and October are prime game-viewing months for a safari in Chobe National Park. But beware: September is also known as the “suicide month” because it’s so hot.
Best time to visit Chobe – bottom line?
If you’re heat-averse, you’re best advised to go between May and July. You can expect sunny and dry weather in Chobe National Park these months, and you’ll still see plenty of game.
We visited in June, and thought it was the perfect compromise of very pleasant weather, not too-dry scenery and more than enough animals to exhaust our camera batteries. Nights were cool (we needed a sweater or jacket), as were early mornings when heading out on our first game drive of the day. But by mid-morning, it was lovely and warm – short sleeve weather.
Where to stay?
We bedded down in the intimate and deluxe Ngoma Safari Lodge, just outside Chobe National Park’s less-visited west gate.
We flew to Africa on Emirates Airlines, breaking up our stay with an overnight at the Dubai Airport transit hotel; it sure helped make the long haul flight more comfortable!
Map of Chobe National Park
You can zoom in or out on this Google map.
Pin to Pinterest!
Here’s a good pin :-).
All photos are © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase (except first and last image)
Our magazine feature
A version of our Chobe safari story was recently published in Taste of Life magazine. Click on the image below to read it.
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.