Botswana’s first National Park, Chobe National Park, is one of the top safari destinations in Africa, with one of the largest concentrations of wildlife on the continent spread across a vast area of nearly 12 000 square kilometres. Located in the north of Botswana, Chobe National Park is famed for its elephants, its diverse habitats, its varied array of animals and birds and its beautiful river, which allows for amazing game viewing by boat.
If it isn’t already on your safari wish list, here are five reasons why you should visit Chobe National Park on a budget safari or tour.
Diverse array of animals
The best reason to do a budget Chobe National Park safari is, of course, for its abundant and diverse wildlife. Chobe’s different habitats – river wetlands, dry savannah, lush floodplains, marsh areas, dense woodlands, sandveld, rolling grasslands and lagoons – support an astonishing array and concentration of animals. Chobe is home to the four of the Big Five (there are no rhinos in the park), as well as zebras, kudu, hyenas, red lechwe and some of the less common animals such as eland and sable and roan antelopes. It’s easy to see lion, and there are regular sightings of the usually elusive cheetah, wild dog and leopard.
Elephants, elephants and more elephants
Chobe has the world’s biggest concentration of elephants, making it the best place on the planet to see huge herds of the grey leviathans. There are varying estimates of how many elephants are in the park, ranging from 50 000 to 120 000. Never mind the exact number, it’s a guarantee that you’ll have some great elephant sightings on a visit to Chobe National Park – sometimes you’ll even get to see herds of as many as 5000 at the river.
Water-based game viewing
You can do the traditional game drives that you would do in any safari destination in Chobe, but the park has the added unusual benefit of a big river from which you can also do boat-based game viewing. Viewing animals from the water gives you a whole new perspective than from a vehicle, and you often get the chance to get much closer to them than you would be able to in a car. The afternoon is the best time to do boat trips on the Chobe River (which separates Botswana from Namibia), when you’re likely to see a host of animals coming down to the water to drink, from big herds of elephant and buffalo to giraffe and antelope. There’s lots to see in the water too – hippos and crocodiles are plentiful, and you can get close to them while remaining safe in the boat, while water birds are easy to spot, and if you’re lucky you might see a kingfisher catching his dinner.
A birder’s paradise
Chobe National Park is renowned for its birdlife, so if you’re a twitcher, this is the park for you. There are more than 450 species of birds found in the park, including cormorants, pelicans, herons, egrets, bustards, cranes, plovers, lapwings, storks, giant kingfishers, bee eaters, and of course, the iconic African fish eagle. Many of Chobe’s bird species are migratory, making the warm and wet summer months of December to March the best time of year for bird watching.
Easy to combine with Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls, Africa’s biggest waterfall and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is a bucket list must see, and it’s only a short drive away from Chobe National Park on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Many trips to Chobe include a visit to Victoria Falls en-route, but you could also easily do a day trip to Victoria Falls – and have time to see the falls from both the Zambian and the Zimbabwean sides – if you’re staying in Chobe National Park.
Inspired to travel to Chobe? Here’s our guide on how to do a budget safari in Chobe National Park
Here are our top Chobe National Park budget safaris: