The Chobe Riverfront is an elephant mecca; home to the largest density of African elephants in the world. Travel here during winter and you’ll fast run out of fingers and toes while you count them drinking at the riverbanks and socialising out on the floodplains.
Thanks to its ease of access from Victoria Falls, the Chobe Riverfront is the busiest part of Botswana (though still a much quieter affair than most South or East African safaris). What Chobe lacks in solitude during the busier months, it more than makes up for with quality game viewing.
Chobe will leave you feeling tiny as giant elephant bulls stroll up next to your vehicle or snorkel alongside your boat. It will make you feel lost as hundreds of hippos and buffaloes crowd you out on the floodplains. It will put your heart in your throat as prides of lions stalk antelopes by the water’s edge, and it will leave you alone with your thoughts while the classic red sunsets melt over the river to a soundtrack of whistling fish eagles.
Chobe is not just a great introduction to Botswana. It also makes a rewarding repeat journey once you’ve ticked off the big stuff. It’s a place to search for the rare sable antelope, to spot that gem from the birders’ bucket list and to explore the remoter corners.
Where you stay in Chobe makes a huge difference to your safari experience. The most affordable options are at bigger hotels in a town setting where you’ll share your game drives with a few more vehicles. On the more exclusive end, stay in a wilder area in or around the park, listen to the sounds of the bush at night and get a head start on accessing the park for activities.
Chobe is all about exploring the river while thirsty animals congregate at the water to drink. The Chobe River is lined with lush floodplains, while further inland Zambezi teak woodlands dominate, interspersed with the occasional waterhole. Towards the western end of the Chobe Riverfront and the Ngoma gate, baobab trees and rocky escarpments feature more prominently.
For elephants, the best time to visit the Chobe Riverfront is during the winter months (May – October) when they can be found out on the floodplains in their hundreds. Large numbers of zebras can also be found towards the Ngoma end of the park at this time of year. While most game viewing is best in winter, the green season still delivers big cat sightings with wild dog sightings becoming more frequent (November – April). The green season is also fantastic for birding however sightings of general birdlife are strong all year round.
Elephants and buffaloes are on the Chobe Riverfront the whole year round, however it is usually only during the winter months that they are seen into their hundreds. The big cats such as lions and leopards are frequently seen, and spotted hyena may be found closer to the Ngoma end of the park. Sable antelope and the endemic Puku antelope can often be found on the Riverfront. Large numbers of hippos and crocodiles dominate the Chobe River itself and massive troops of baboons are often seen out on drives. This is also a good place to see healthy numbers of giraffes, together with other plains game such as kudu, impala, and waterbuck.
For birders, there are frequent sightings of fish eagles, white fronted bee eaters, skimmers, kingfishers, cormorants and African darters. Other birds to visit for include schalows turaco, rosy-throated longclaw, the African finfoot and white crowned lapwings.