Chobe National Park

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I had always wanted to get to the great game parks of Botswana which include the Kalahari, Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park but the only legitimately easy, albeit expensive way to get there was flying from Johannesburg. From Livingstone, Zambia however, it is only an hour drive or so and a day trip will run you $135 and that’s a steal for what you get! I jumped on the opportunity I didn’t think I would have this trip and Chobe National Park and its unreal stock of elephants and beautiful waterways didn’t disappoint.

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I left Fawlty Towers with my Dutch friend at 7am for the hour drive and ferry across to Botswana. From there it was another 10km or so to Kasane and the Chobe Safari Lodge. The Lodge was the base for the Safari which included breakfast, lunch and drinks plus a 3 hour boat cruise safari and a 3 hour game drive in a nice safari mobile Land Cruiser which can comfortably seat 10.
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There were 8 people all together in my vehicle and we combined with another car of a large bilingual German family living in Zambia. The other people in my car were a South African family with two very smart and adorable children and two Italian Nationals living in Mozambique. Everyone was very nice and we shared a nice lunch together at the lodge between the morning cruise and the afternoon game drive.
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The morning cruise was probably my favorite part. First, I love boat trips. Second, the relaxed atmosphere and amazing scenery made the boat trip really fun. We got up close and personal with a medium sized alligator as you can see although I am convinced he was full size because he was massive. We saw a ton of hippos and cool birds, although bird watching is not really my thing but the South African kids’ enthusiasm made it better.
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Finally, we got some great views of a family of elephants drinking and washing at the river’s edge. This was really cool to see from the water because you really got to see how they work to get their water and to make sure the baby is cool, washed and gets enough water. They work as a unit.
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But perhaps most surprisingly to me and a nice little added bonus was that we got an unexpected landing on the Caprivi Strip in Namibia. After some light pestering of the tour guide I convinced him to land us in Namibia, albeit illegally, but there was nobody around to see. So I was in Namibia which I had originally planned to save until next trip to do with Angola and I still will because there is a ton in Namibia I want to do but it was a nice little surprise to land on the Caprivi Strip as you don’t realize how far the arm of Namibia extends eastward.
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After lunch we headed out on our game drive that lasted about 3 hours. If you’ve ever been on safari before, you’ll know this is about the perfect amount of time for a drive because you will see a lot of animals and you won’t get bored. I had always heard good things about Chobe National Park and what I found out id that they have more elephants in Chobe than I think any other park-they have more than 50,000 and I think I saw every one of them!
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There were so many elephants that at one point you didn’t even pay attention to them. However, the beautiful landscapes with waterway backdrops gave Chobe an amazing look and made it very unique from the other big African Parks I’ve done safaris at. Some of the views of the elephants and gazelles, along with warthogs and monkeys across the Chobe Savannah were breathtaking. The light and vast landscapes made it very memorable to see.
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We also had some cool run-ins with elephants along the truck path as they are very protective and we were charged and elephant roared at several times. Elephant roared at is my term for the noise elephants make when they’re pissed off at you and the flail their ears out and mount a charge. These elephants are absolutely massive and wild and you never know what they’re going to do so it’s a little worrisome. But alas, they never do make contact with the car; it’s generally just a threat to let you know not to mess with them.
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Aside from thousands (literally) of elephants we only saw one other big 5 member and that was one solitary female lion who was resting in the shade of the hot afternoon. She was just chilling as we snapped pictures but it was nice to find a lion as they are always cool to see whether they are prowling or just resting.
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Aside from that, we saw several warthog families, antelopes, waterbucks, lizards, birds, monkeys, baboons, giraffes and even a really cool dung beetle (above) but we didn’t see the remaining big 5 members (buffaloes, leopards or rhinos-which Chobe has none of) or even any wildebeests or zebras which normally you see a million of in the other parks I’ve been to. However, I will remember Chobe for the vast amounts of elephants and the great landscapes that are relatively unique to this part of Africa. It is much drier up by the equator in the great parks of Kenya and Tanzania which leads to the great migration each year but here it is lush and wet and there is plenty of water.

Chobe National Park lies within Botswana on the intersection of four countries; Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana and is a great place to see elephants and some great African vistas. If you head up to Victoria Falls or to Livingstone to see the Falls, definitely take a side trip an hour away to Chobe. My only advice would be to get multiple entry visas to both Zambia and Zimbabwe, depending on which way you enter from and leave.

After two nights in Livingstone, Zambia I sent last night in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe at the Restcamp because the hostel, Shoestring Backpackers, I stayed at in 2004 was packed with three overland truck tours. That made for a fun filled night as I headed over there for some Zambezi beers on my last night before flying to Johannesburg today to spend one night out by the airport and do some shopping. I need sneakers, long pants, a sweatshirt and a hat because I gave them all away after gorillas tracking in Rwanda 10 days ago as they were filthy and I didn’t have time to wash and dry them. I really need a new hat because I got a haircut from some kid in Zambia the other day and he did a horrendous job and it looks like I have a racing stripe across the side of my head which is why I am wearing the Arsenal beanie in the pictures the last few days!

Tomorrow I fly to Madagascar!!!!!

Comments

  1. Great posting Lee. Sounds like the trip has worked out well for you and it’s great you were able to squeeze in two animal side trips as well (Rwanda & Botswana). I know I had mentioned it before, but if your time is limited in Madagascar, try and at least make it to the Perinet Reserve (3 hrs from Antananarivo), where your chances of spotting wildlife is very good, including the Indri lemur.

    http://www.annmei.com/tour/Madagascar/perinet.htm

  2. Wow these are incredible photos. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I also went to Chobe NP a few years ago and saw many elephants. I had not been to any other parks and thought the elephants were amazing still. I also wished I had seen more of the big 5 and that is true they dont have any rhinos. I’ve heard Kruger in South Africa has many and I would like to head there next year.

  4. again, amazing pics!! i’m dying to go on a safari :)

  5. Thanks guys! Was a great time. It’s never too late to do a safari Delasauree! Let me know if you need some advice!

  6. Not to sound like a broken record but these are amazing pictures Lee.

  7. LOL I love the dung beetle, its so cute!

  8. Hello Lee, beautiful photos of Chobe. I live in South Africa and have been keen to take my family to Chobe but it was always quite expensive. That is great advice about flying to Livingstone which is much cheaper. This way, we can visit Victoria Falls and also see Chobe for about half the price. Cheers.

  9. Philip Breaston says:

    Good story, great photos. I have been twice to Chobe as I formerly lived and worked in Jo’burg although I am back in England now. There certainly are a lot of elephants especially if you compare Chobe to Kruger or some of the other big game parks around Southern Africa. Cheers and enjoy the rest of your holiday.

  10. This site is great and I owe you one since you were finally able to settle a bet I made with my wife last year when we went on safari. While on safari in Kenya in the Masai Mara we drove across the unmarked border into Tanzania for a while. I wanted to count Tanzania on my TCC list which would get me to 75 but my wife said the rules required to cross at official border. I just read her your post and that you count Namibia so she agreed that I can count Tanzania. I’m going to send in my application to TCC. You must know the TCC rules backwards and forwards so I finally get to check Tanzania. Thanks

  11. Well Rich I am glad I could help! Hopefully you’ll make it back to Tanzy sometime for a longer stay; it’s a great place. I am heading to Namibia on my next Africa trip once I get an Angola visa. Maybe I will see you at a TCC meeting sometime soon.

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