Where to go for the best safari experiences in southern Africa.Read more...
Boat trips on the Chobe give visitors the chance to witness large family groups of elephants trooping down to the river to drink and bathe © Peek Creative Collective, Shutterstock
The river running along the northern border of the Chobe National Park is certainly one of the biggest attractions of the area.
Perhaps the park’s greatest attraction is its northern boundary, the Chobe River. In the dry season animals converge on this stretch of water from the whole of northern Botswana. Elephant and buffalo, especially, form into huge herds for which the park is famous.
The river meanders through occasional low, flat islands and floating mats of papyrus and reeds. These islands, and beside the river, are always lush and green – and hence attract high densities of game. Beside this the bleached-white riverbank rises up just a few metres, and instantly becomes dry and dusty. Standing on top of this are skeletons of dead trees, sometimes draped by a covering of woolly caper-bushes. In several areas this bank has been eroded away, perhaps originally where small seasonal streams have joined the main river or hippo tracks out of the water have become widened by general animal use to access the floodplains.
The game densities vary greatly with the seasons, but towards the end of the dry season it is certainly one of Africa’s most prolific areas for game. It is an ideal destination for visitors seeking big game. Elsewhere in the dry season you’ll find fascination in termites or ground squirrels, but here you can find huge herds of buffalo, relaxed prides of lion, and perhaps Africa’s highest concentration of elephant – huge herds which are the hallmark of the area.
One of the main attractions of the boat trips on the Chobe is that large family groups of elephants will troop down to the river to drink and bathe, affording spectacular viewing and photography. You’ll find these here at any time of day, but they’re especially common in the late afternoon, just before sunset.