Experience the Chobe River

A blue line snakes across Botswana’s northern boundaries. It winds through sandy terrain, lush floodplains, dense forests and woodlands.  The deep blue water sustains the life around it. Herds of elephants, cape buffalo, zebra and more gather on the riverbanks to lap up the cool water. Luxurious houseboats meander downstream while small tender boats dart across the river to get close up looks at the animals along the shore.

The Chobe River flows along Botswana’s northern border and is an iconic spot in Botswana’s most popular safari destination. This is thanks to the lush riverbanks that attract droves of wildlife during year round and especially during Botswana’s dry season.

Some of the most famous visitors to the river are the elephants. Chobe National Park has the highest concentration of elephants on the African continent with numbers estimated at around 50 000. Herds graze on the floodplains and paddle in the shallows of the river; a remarkable sight for anyone viewing them from land or from the water.

There are a number of great things to experience on and nearby the river that make the area such a popular destination.

River Game Cruise

One of the top game experiences is to view wildlife from a river cruise boat as it journeys across the waters of the Chobe. Cruise down the river at a leisurely pace and take in the sights of wildlife and changing scenery along the banks. Along with the large herds of elephant and cape buffalo, hippos and crocodiles laze in the depths of the Chobe.

A perfect way to start or end a trip to the Chobe is with a sunrise or sunset cruise. Guests can watch the riverbank greet the rising day under the warm glow of the African sun. Or look on as the wildlife along the banks start to wind down for the evening while the sunset turns the river gold. The afternoon offers some of the best photography opportunities in the Chobe.

Different groups offer day excursions but one of the most memorable Chobe River experiences is to spend few nights experiencing life on the river on one of the Chobe River’s houseboats. After cruising during the day, the houseboats moor at night and guests are surrounded by the sounds of the Chobe Wilderness. Sitting on deck and gazing at the expanse of the African starry sky while the boat gently rocks is an unmissable experience.

Cultural Village Tours

The river runs from Angola to Chobe National Park and eventually into the great Zambezi River. Where the Chobe flows into the Zambezi; four countries meet. , Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia come together at the Kazunga crossing.

In the middle of the river, between the Botswana and Namibia sides of the river, there are a number of islands. A cultural addition to a safari in Chobe National Park is a tour of one of the island villages. Imaplila Island on the Namibian side of the border which runs through the Chobe River. The island is home to between 2500-3000 people in 25 small villages.  A visit to Impalila offers visitors some insight into the day to day lives of the villagers.

Birding Excursions

While Chobe’s elephants may reign supreme there are smaller creatures notable for their numbers in the area. Chobe is well-known as a fantastic birding destination with over 400 species that have been spotted along the river. Africa Fish Eagles, Carmine Bee-Eaters, Lilac-breasted Rollers are some of and Kingfishers.Birding enthusiasts can take boat trips down the river to get close up experience of the feathered residents. Small tender boats carry visitors to the riverbanks for a unique vantage point. 

Tiger Fish and Bream Fishing

Fishing a variety of bream and the notably elusive tigerfish is a popular activity along the river.  Tigerfish which can reach weights of 8kg/18lbs are known to put up a challenge – reeling one in can be a highlight of any fishing enthusiasts Chobe safari experience.

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