If you are visiting Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe, you must go to Botswana for a Chobe safari. Not only does a Chobe safari do a typical game drive, but also a river cruise. It is very easy to travel to and we highly recommend travelers to make this trip a priority. When you do plan your Chobe day trip, make sure you book with a Botswana safari tour. They will make your life less stressful, so you can focus on having an amazing safari experience. Our post will break down everything you need to know to have a successful Chobe day trip. We will also discuss our amazing animal sightings during our safari drive and cruise.
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Chobe National Park
Botswana is not only one of the safest countries in Africa, but it is also becoming a premier safari destination for travelers. The two most popular places to visit in Botswana are the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park. After our amazing safari experience in Chobe National Park, we completely understand why Botswana is a leading country for safari game drives. Now we are eager to revisit and experience an Okavango Delta Mokoro Canoe trip.
Chobe National Park is Botswana’s first national park and third largest park with one of the most biologically diverse vegetations. Its vegetation varies from dense floodplains to the vast Savuti marsh (grassland). During our Chobe day trip, we even saw one of the largest trees on Earth, a baobab tree. Of course, there is also the famous Chobe River. The Chobe River runs 60km (37 miles) through the park which provides excellent game viewing opportunities when animals need to get a drink of water. Travelers can find an abundant amount of crocodiles, birds, and hippos near the Chobe River.
Chobe National Park has the Big Four – elephant, lion, leopard and cape buffalo, (no rhino). The park is known for having the largest population of elephants, at lest 120,000 – we saw about 200. In addition to the Big Four, the park is also home to impala, hippo, wildebeest, giraffe, hyena, waterbuck, puku, (sometimes cheetah) and more. Needless to say, travelers will have great game views on their Chobe safari.
Chobe National Park is said to have the best game viewing year-round, but the “excellent” game viewing is during their dry season – May through October. During the dry season, the wildlife is easier to spot, especially when the water independent animals stay around the Chobe River. Bird watching is best during the rainy season – December through April.
Choose Your Chobe Safari Tour
The drive to Chobe National Park is only one hour from Livingstone, Zambia. Moreover, you can enjoy your day trip to Chobe National Park as part of your perfect self-drive Botswana itinerary or you can book a Chobe safari tour. For our day trip to Chobe, we decided to book our Chobe safari tour with Bushtracks and could not have been happier with our choice. The jeep for our tour could hold up to ten passengers, but we were lucky to have the tour all to ourselves without paying the extra costs of a private tour! The Chobe day trip is a full day – it begins at 7am and finishes around 6:30pm. Bushtracks arranges their guides to pick up and return the guests at their respected resort. The tour also includes snacks and beverages during the game drive, lunch at Chobe Safari Lodge and park fees.
Our guide, Walter, was excellent from the moment he picked us up till the moment he dropped us off – he was friendly, knowledgeable, made us feel relaxed and provided us with excellent safari game viewing experiences. Walter made crossing the Kazungula border easy and stress-free. He handed us border crossing paperwork to fill out in the car and drove us to the crossing point of Kazungula, an intersection of the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers where four countries meet (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia). We took a boat across the rivers to enter Botswana and then waited in line at the border control for no more than ten minutes with our filled out paperwork.
Now let the fun begin….
A Patient, but Thrilling Game Drive
Chobe National Park had big shoes to fill after our four day safari at Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa. So we admit, the first hour was a little dull. We saw a herd of cape buffalo resting in the bush, some puku and a lot of impala, or as Walter called them, “McDonalds” because they are everywhere!
We could not believe that after an hour of driving in a national park known for their elephant population, we had not seen a single one. Call us spoiled, but we were a little let down during our game drive, but we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery of Chobe River and the animals surrounding it – it was truly beautiful. We continued driving along the sand bar of the Chobe River behind several cars, stopping beside them to discuss any animal sightings. Though the weather was a little disappointing with an overcast and slight rain, the guides still could not believe the lack of wildlife, especially with the elephants. Fortunately, we had Walter and he did not give up easily. He told us that everyone had tried several different areas with the exception of a big waterhole in the middle of the park – no one wanted to drive that far, but we did.
Lo and behold – we hit the elephant jackpot! As we were closing in on the water hole we saw a herd of elephants walking towards it. We kept our distance and stayed on the trail to respect the elephants in their natural habitat and just watched them play, bathe and drink at the water hole. Some elephants walked towards a tree near us and started using the tree to scratch its trunk. While other elephants were playing trunk-a-wars. This was the game viewing experience we were looking forward to on our Chobe day trip. Best part – we had this game viewing all to ourselves, it was just us and the herd of elephants at the waterhole.
Walter decided to keep driving deeper inside the park to find more game viewing experiences. An hour ago we couldn’t find a single elephant, now we were seeing herds of elephants everywhere we looked. They were on our left, they were on our right, always walking behind one another to their next destination. Then just when we thought we had seen it all, we heard a lion roar to our right and when we looked, we saw three female lions run across to a high grassy area. We drove slowly toward the pride of lions to see them more closely while bearing our surroundings.
After a few minutes of taking photos of the lions, a herd of at least fifty elephants were making their way towards our jeep. We were literally in the middle of a battlefield. Yes, we probably should have started reversing the jeep, but even Walter was frozen in this moment. We stood still in our jeep watching the elephants come towards us and then pass on the right hand side of the jeep, while the pride of lions on our left never kept their eyes off of the them. Just when we thought we were in the clear, an elephant strayed away from its herd and went across our jeep into the lions territory. The elephant quickly spotted the crouched lions in the tall grass and moved forward to scare the lions away. This game viewing literally took our breathe away. Adrenaline was coursing through our blood, we just witnessed one of the most thrilling game viewing experiences of our lives. Talk about the BEST Chobe safari ever!
Watch the experience below!
Lunch at Chobe Safari Lodge
We ended up being a little late to lunch due to our lion-elephant encounter. Lunch was served at Chobe Safari Lodge as a buffet style. We were able to order one alcoholic or non alcoholic beverage and eat as much as we pleased. Though our safari tour was “private”, our lunch experience was not. Every safari tour comes to dine at Chobe Safari Lodge, it almost felt like we were at a summer camp. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the atmosphere and ambience of Chobe Safari Lodge and the food was delicious. There were several African cuisine entrees, as well as international influenced entrees to please any guest.
An Amazing Chobe River Cruise
After lunch we met Walter down at the docks of Chobe Safari Lodge and to our surprise, our “private” safari tour kept getting better and better. The boat we were supposed to have was unavailable, so we ended up having a huge double decker boat all to ourselves – it was very comical, but also awesome. We were also provided cold beverages during our entire Chobe river cruise.
We set off into the Chobe River with Captain Walter and our huge boat ready for our next safari experience. We always enjoy being on the water, it is very peaceful to us both. Even if we did not see a single animal, we would have been happy, but that was not the case. We saw a few elephants hanging by the river bank getting a drink of water.
Then we immediately came across a herd of cape buffalo mowing down grass on acres of floodplain. There were at least a hundred spread out on the vast floodplain – it was a game view we would see on the National Geographic Channel, it was absolutely amazing. We took our chairs and just sat on our boat with our cold beers in hand, watching the cape buffalo graze the grass as if we were sitting in front of a tv at home. It was truly remarkable.
As we continued our Chobe river cruise, we came across several hippos resting in the water. Some would stare us down with piercing eyes, while others just turned away from their photo op. Near the end of our Chobe river cruise, we found a pod of hippos that were very active, so Captain Walter anchored the boat to watch the hippos in their natural habitat. When we arrived, the hippos must have just awoken because quite a few were yawning and we could see all the way down their throats – their mouths are huge!
We also saw two hippos play fighting and it was a spectacular show to watch. They would open their mouths as wide as possible and almost kiss their noses together simultaneously. Then they would take their mouths and fill it with water and spray each other. We had never seen hippos this active before – another amazing game viewing experience.
Watch the experience below!
More Photos of Our Chobe Safari Game Drive and Cruise
Chobe Day Trip Prices
Prices for a Chobe day trip with Bushtracks vary depending on your accommodations in Zambia or Zimbabwe. We stayed at Tongabezi, in Zambia, and it cost us $190 each. In our opinion, we find these prices to be very reasonable since it includes, round trip transportation, assistance crossing the border, park entrance fees, snacks and beverages, lunch, a game drive, a river cruise and of course, a knowledgable guide. Not to mention the trip is at least ten hours long.
To inquiry about prices for Bushtracks Chobe day trip, click here.
- DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT
- Pack your camera and binoculars
- The tsetse fly is common in Botswana, so wear long sleeved clothes
- Use at least 50% deet mosquito repellant
- Pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses for sun protection
- Wear green or neutral colors, i.e. beige, brown, tan
- Bring cash if you desire to tip your guide
Check out this safari packing guide for more info.
We thoroughly enjoyed our Chobe day trip and we hope this post inspired you to book a Botswana safari tour too!
Christina + Adam
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