Chobe National Park Botswana is one of Africa’s magical rivers, and the best way to explore the park is by boat. In the late afternoon, big herds of elephant and buffalo come to drink. There are plenty of hippos and crocs in the river, and the birdlife is phenomenal. Predator sightings are easier on game drives.
Chobe offers great wildlife viewing. The park is renowned for big concentrations of elephant and buffalo that come to drink at the river. Other mammals that are usually spotted on the shore are bushbuck and puku. Lions often lie in ambush near the river waiting for an opportunity but spotted hyena, leopard, and cheetah are more easily seen inside the park. Rhino is absent.
Chobe has an impressive wealth of animal life. Elephant and buffalo are a permanent presence on the riverbanks in the dry months. Burch ell’s zebra are very common as well, while smaller numbers of sable, roan, and greater kudu can be found in the park interior. Lion, wild dog, leopard, and cheetah are all regularly spotted.
Thousands of animals on the floodplains kick up a lot of dust, which creates amazing photo opportunities at sunset. Less obvious are some of the smaller mammals such as the Chobe subspecies of bushbuck. The red lechwe is common in marshy areas. Some of the small predators include Selous’ mongoose, serval, and wild cat.
Chobe has very seasonal wildlife viewing. The dry months, from May to October, are a good time to visit the Chobe River area in the north. During the Wet season, from December to April, animals tend to congregate around the pans in the interior.
Average daytime temperatures in the Dry season (April to October) start at 30°C/86°F in April, and by October they’ve climbed to a very hot 35°C/95°F. Conditions stay fairly hot in the first two months of the Wet season (November to March), before the heavy storms of January and February sweep away the worst of the heat.
You can see animals year-round at Chobe, but the Dry season (April to October) is when wildlife viewing is at its best here, particularly along the southern bank of the park’s broad, namesake river. You’ll also see some unforgettable sunsets across the water at this time, though you’ll be elbowing the high-season crowds while checking them out.
Chobe is a great birding destination – more than 450 species have been recorded. Boat trips on the river are excellent for checking off many waders and other water-associated birds. Birds often let boats come very close making photography remarkably easy. Chobe National Park Botswana
There are many fish eagles on the river, and their call is one of the most iconic sounds of Africa. Several species, including skimmers, are on their southern-most limit, making a sighting particularly exciting for southern Africa bird watchers.
Chobe is a great park for bird watching throughout the year, but the best months are from November to April. This is when migrants swoop into the park. Also, during these months a lot of birds are breeding, and large colonies of water birds can be found nesting on the sandbanks in the river. The best time for mammals, however, is in the dry months from May to October.
Chobe has a warm to hot climate, and there is a Dry and Wet season. The Dry season months May to August are the coolest and most rain falls between December and March. It is advisable to bring warm clothing for boat trips and morning drives.
Dry season –April to October
The last showers marking the end of the Wet season normally fall in April. From May, the park becomes drier and drier. June and July are the coolest months; however, temperatures begin increasing in August and peak in October.
April & May – These months mark the beginning of the Dry season. The vegetation is still green, and it is mostly dry and sunny. It is hot in the middle of the day, with temperatures climbing up to 29°C/84°F. Chobe National Park Botswana
June, July & August – There is very little rain during these months. It is a bit cooler now with afternoon temperatures climbing up to about 27°C/80°F. Early mornings are cold at around 08°C/47°F.
September & October – As the Dry season draws to a close, it continues to get hotter before the rains break. October is very hot with average afternoon temperatures of 35°C/95°F. However, conditions at night and in the mornings are agreeable.
Wet season –November to March
The first rains bring relief. It doesn’t usually rain all day, but thunderstorms in the afternoon are common. It’s hot throughout the season with afternoon temperatures of around 31°C/88°F. Mornings are pleasant.
November & December – Conditions are hot and sunny. Temperatures tend to build before it rains, and then drop afterward. Early mornings are pleasant – temperatures average about 19°C/65°F.
January & February – The first two months of the year are the wettest. There is usually rain in the afternoon, but only for a few hours. Heavy storms are a regular occurrence.
March – The rains are lessening. There is still rainfall every couple of days though, and it mostly comes like a thunderstorm. Mornings are cooler at 17°C/63°F.
Chobe NP has several areas that can be visited. The most popular and accessible area is the riverfront, which is just outside Kasane. Chobe Gate is located 6km/3mi west of Kasane and 80km/49mi west of Victoria Falls. The drive from Victoria Falls takes just over an hour.
Visitors to this area usually fly into Kasane Airport (BBK), and self-drive visitors can pick up their 4×4 at the airport.
The Savuti and Linyanti areas can be reached by 4×4 in the Dry season, but most people fly-in by chartered plane to their lodge.
Another popular point of entry to the country is Maun Airport (MUB). From here you can fly on to Kasane. Driving is also possible – it’s about 600km/370mi.
Botswana is safe to visit in our opinion, and so is Chobe in particular. Flying around from lodge to lodge is a very safe way to travel but Botswana is a popular self-drive destination as well. Most self-drive visitors stay in Kasane, which is easy to reach, but visitors driving to Savuti, or especially Linyanti, should check the road conditions before heading off.
Your travel clinic or local doctor will give you advice on appropriate vaccinations for visiting Botswana. Chobe lies in a high-risk malaria zone, so it is advisable to take antimalarial medication. Extra safety measures that should be adhered to are using insect repellent (containing at least 30% DEET) and covering up in the evening. The malaria risk is highest in the rainy season.
Incidents with animals are extremely rare. Wild animals, however, are unpredictable and visitors should always listen to the safety briefing at their lodge check-in, as well as take any warnings seriously. Chobe National Park Botswana
When on an organized safari, listen carefully to the instructions given by your guide, and when on a self-drive safari, familiarize yourself with the designated areas where you may get out of the vehicle.