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Chobe Under Canvas
Chobe Under Canvas
Chobe Under Canvas
Chobe Under Canvas
Chobe Under Canvas

Chobe Under Canvas: Our full report

Chobe Under Canvas aims to combine the advantages of a mobile camping safari with the luxuries of a semi-perma...

... nent tented camp. Always based in the Chobe Riverfront area of the Chobe National Park, the camp is packed up every fifth day (in keeping with the national park's mobile-camping rules) and moved to a different private site in the same area.

Chobe Under Canvas has just five spacious, walk-in tents, taking a maximum of ten guests. These are fairly traditional Meru-style tents of khaki canvas with mesh windows, and have sisal matting covering the floor. Each is furnished with very comfortable twin or double beds, a bedside table with two rechargeable lanterns, a box of tissues and a flask of cold water, and a luggage chest. Behind the bed, a canvas wall separates the en-suite bathroom, where you’ll find a hanging rail with canvas shelves, insect repellent and a laundry bag. Another rechargeable lantern sits on a small wooden table here, alongside a shaving mirror, tin basin, water jug and complimentary soaps. Above a slatted wooden mat is a bucket shower, which is filled with warm water when you return from the day's safari activities, and a rolled-up canvas doorway leads to a separate flush toilet – all under the same roof. At the front of each tent is a small covered ‘porch’ with two deckchairs and a table.

The five tents are arranged in a semi-circle, just a few metres apart, facing an open-sided marquee-style tent which forms the main area of Chobe Under Canvas. Delicious meals are enjoyed here as a group, around a long, lantern-lit table. There is also a small 'bar' table holding a selection of drinks, a coolbox packed with cold drinks, a very small reference library and a selection of board games.

Activities include game drives and boat trips along the Chobe River, led by professional and very knowledgeable guides. Typically, guests at Chobe Under Canvas will enjoy a game drive both on their first afternoon and the following morning, with a boat trip often arranged for the second afternoon. The wildlife in this area is plentiful and very relaxed, making for some fantastic viewing opportunities throughout the year. But as the natural pools of water formed in the park during the summer months dry up, and the wildlife becomes more dependent on the permanent waters of the Chobe River during the dry season (between about August and October), the game densities along the riverfront noticeably increase – making both game drives and boat trips on the river particularly rewarding. No matter the time of year, however, there is a great variety of birdlife to be seen from boat cruises, from fish eagles to goliath herons and white-fronted bee-eaters to giant kingfishers.

As with previous visits to Chobe Under Canvas, on our last visit in November 2015 we experienced the camp’s pros and cons first hand. A real pro is its location inside the national park. Most lodges in Chobe are located outside the park, so they have to queue at the park gates before and after every game drive. Chobe Under Canvas has the advantage of being one of the first vehicles out on drives and one of the last to head back to camp in the evening – allowing you more time on activities. We had some wonderful elephant sightings with a number of young babies; a herd of sable; buffalo and jackal; a pride of about six lions; and lots of pregnant impala desperately waiting for the start of the summer rains before they gave birth.

One of the cons was that our guide had found a female leopard with an impala kill in a tree earlier in the day, but when we returned to find her in the afternoon, she was no longer there. Strict park rules state that you are not allowed to drive off-road within Chobe, but there was clear evidence that many vehicles had been driving off-road to try and get a closer look. She had obviously been chased away.

It’s also important to note that this part of Chobe National Park has become more and more popular over the years and is now much busier than any of Botswana's other parks – which we witnessed on our most recent visit in November 2015. Although the 'Under Canvas' safari guides are adept at keeping away from the crowds, you'll still see many other vehicles. This is especially noticeable at an exciting animal sighting, and at breaks for tea and coffee or sundowners, as in the national park these have to be taken at designated spots.


Our view

Although Chobe Under Canvas retains a semi-permanent camping atmosphere, the tents, service and food are more in keeping with Botswana's excellent safari lodges. It offers wonderful wildlife viewing, especially at the end of the dry season, and a more economical, and slightly more adventurous, alternative to many of the country's other lodges and camps. However, travellers need to accept that game-viewing here, in the national park, won't usually be as exclusive as is the norm in Botswana's private safari reserves.

Lucy Copson

Lucy Copson

Botswana expert

Geographics

Location
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Ideal length of stay
We recommend a stay of two nights at Chobe Under Canvas, although you might consider three nights during the dry season when game densities in this area are particularly high. The camp combines particularly well with its sister camp, Savute Under Canvas, and also often forms part of a trip with Sandibe Safari Lodge, Nxabega, Xaranna Okavango Lodge or Xudum Delta Lodge – which are all owned by the same company, &Beyond.

If you're visiting Chobe National Park in combination with private areas elsewhere in Botswana, especially around the Okavango Delta, then we recommend quite strongly that you start with Chobe if possible, and then move on to the more remote wildlife areas where you will encounter fewer visitors.
Directions
The road transfer to Chobe Under Canvas from Kasane takes approximately an hour to an hour-and-a-half, depending on the location of the camp. However, this may be longer if you see any exciting wildlife sightings on the way.
Accessible by
Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board & Activities
Food quality
Considering Chobe Under Canvas is a semi-permanent mobile camp with the simplest of kitchen facilities, we were very impressed with the standard of meals on our last visit here in November 2015.

Breakfast is usually a selection of cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurt and toast.

Lunch is often a choice of salads, cold meats and cheeses with freshly baked bread. A variety of snacks are served whilst on safari activities in the morning and at tea time in the afternoon.

Dinner is a more substantial meal. On our last trip we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks with nibbles of biltong around the campfire. Then for starters we had creamy vegetable soup and freshly baked rolls, followed by crumbed hake, fluffy mash potato, green beans and butternut squash. Dessert was apple pie and cream.

Special interests

Solo Travel
Chobe Under Canvas is a luxurious, adventurous mobile camp within one of Botswana’s prime game areas. It’s a single-friendly social camp with travellers eating at a communal table. There are no single supplements for solo safari travellers. Holidays here won’t be lonely!
See ideas for Solo Travel
Birdwatching
The Chobe Riverfront is not just about the 'big stuff': it's also a superb destination for birdwatching. Over 450 species of birds have been seen in Chobe, including African skimmers, found between about October and March.
See ideas for Birdwatching
Wildlife safaris
During the dry season, increasingly high densities of wildlife are drawn to the Chobe River's permanent waters, making Chobe Under Canvas a good choice for wildlife safaris in Botswana. By September/October the numbers of elephant are astounding.
See ideas for Wildlife safaris

Children

Attitude towards children
Children aged 12 years and over are welcome at Chobe Under Canvas.
Property’s age restrictions
Equipment
None
Generally recommended for children
There is very little for younger visitors to do between wildlife activities, and there is no pool, so we do not recommend this camp for children aged below 16 years or so.
Notes
This is a very open safari camp and wildlife does pass through. Children must be under parents' supervision at all times.

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Chobe Under Canvas

Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Chobe Under Canvas have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.

Buffalo

100% success

Elephant

100% success

Giraffe

100% success

Hippo

100% success

Lion

100% success

Roan antelope

100% success

Zebra

100% success

Sable antelope

67% success

Leopard

33% success

Aardvark

0% success

Brown Hyena

0% success

Cheetah

0% success

Eland

0% success

Pangolin

0% success

Sitatunga

0% success

Spotted Hyena

0% success

Wild dog

0% success

Wildebeest

0% success

Communications

Communications
Chobe Under Canvas is in constant contact with their base of operations in Kasane by radio and also by cellphone when reception permits.
TV & radio
There is no television or radio.
Water supply
Transported in
Water supply notes
The tents at Chobe Under Canvas do not have running water. A jug of water is provided in your bathroom and will be topped up when necessary, and your bucket shower will be filled with hot water on request. There is no running water in the tents, but the toilets are plumbed with flushing water

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
The manager and guides are trained in first aid and can tend to any minor ailments. The nearest doctor is based in Kasane, between an hour to an hour-and-a-half drive away.
Dangerous animals
High Risk
Security measures
A horn is provided in each tent to raise the alarm in case of an emergency.
Fire safety
Each safari vehicle is fitted with a fire extinguisher. Park rules limit the size of the campfire.

Activities

  • 4WD Safari

    4WD Safari

  • Birdwatching

    Birdwatching

  • Boat trip

    Boat trip

  • Fishing

    Fishing

  • Helicopter

    Helicopter

Extras

Disabled access
Not Possible
Laundry facilities
Laundry is included, but they do not wash underwear. Washing powder is provided in the tents for this purpose.
Money
The tents do not have safes.
Accepted payment on location
Chobe Under Canvas cannot accept payments by credit card – but as everything is included, there shouldn’t be any need for this. Any necessary payments are welcomed in cash in US dollars or Botswana pula

Other lodges in Chobe National Park

Alternative places to stay in this same area.


Muchenje Safari Lodge

Muchenje Safari Lodge

One of our favourites in the area, Muchenje is a small, welcoming lodge outside the less busy western end of the Chobe Riverfront area.


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Chobe Princesses

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Garden Lodge

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Savute Safari Lodge

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Savute Safari Lodge sits on the banks of the Savuti Channel within Chobe National Park, and offers access to excellent game viewing, especially during the dry season.


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Savute Under Canvas

Savute Under Canvas

A mobile camp with the comforts of a semi-permanent tented camp, Savute Under Canvas offers guided game drives within the Savuti region of Chobe National Park.


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Chobe Safari Lodge

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Chobe Safari Lodge is a good value, hotel-style lodge in the heart of Kasane offering game drives, boat cruises and fishing trips.


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Chobe Game Lodge

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Chobe Elephant Camp

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Located in one of our favorite areas of Chobe National Park, Chobe Elephant Camp is a simple but well-appointed camp with a strong bush feel.


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Zambezi Queen

Zambezi Queen

The Zambezi Queen offers luxurious two- and three-night cruises along the game-rich Chobe River, including game viewing by small boat and 4WD as well as catch-and-release fishing.


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Ngoma Safari Lodge

Ngoma Safari Lodge

With sweeping views across the floodplains of the Chobe River, Ngoma offers superb food and flexible safari activities.


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Chobe Chilwero

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On the periphery of Chobe National Park, Chobe Chilwero offers luxurious surroundings and excellent food, which complement superb game viewing on game drives and boat trips.


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Savute Elephant Lodge

Savute Elephant Lodge

Savute Elephant Lodge is a luxurious camp on the banks of the now flowing Savuti Channel. This is a classic big-game area, although its location within Chobe National Park does limit the activities which are possible here.


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Elephant Valley Lodge

Elephant Valley Lodge

Elephant Valley Lodge is a lovely camp in a beautiful setting – sit in its hide and watch the wildlife come to drink at the waterhole. Activities focus on boating and drives in Chobe which - although very busy, and a long drive from the lodge – is very rich in wildlife.


80% (1 review)
Camp Kuzuma

Camp Kuzuma

Camp Kuzuma sits in the Kazuma Forest Reserve and is an excellent place to see elephant in particular. Away from the busier riverfront area of Chobe National Park this camp offers a luxurious base form which to explore this less visited region of northern Botswana.


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