Chobe National Park: in detail
Chobe safari holidays: the full story
The Chobe National Park covers about 11,700km² of the northern Kalahari, much of it impenetrable thorn bush growing on deep sand. This is an old safari area. Livingstone visited it in the 1850s, as have countless big-game hunters since. It's famous for huge herds of elephant and buffalo, and large prides of lion that have learnt to hunt them; for a river that apparently flows both ways; and for the mysterious, disappearing (and reappearing) Savuti Channel.
The key to this safari area is Chobe's animal migration. Chobe's animals move in complex, ancient patterns determined by the rain and available food. Within Chobe National Park there are two areas with a few luxurious private lodges: the Chobe Riverfront and Savuti Marsh (sometimes spelt “Savute” Marsh). Elsewhere, these parks are perhaps best explored using a mobile safari.
Safari lodges & camps around Chobe RiverfrontThe far north of the park, bordering the Chobe River, has long been renowned for its dense game. The lion are common and nonchalant, the antelope prolific, and the herds of buffalo and elephant among the largest anywhere. The birdlife is also excellent, from ubiquitous fish eagles to a myriad herons and waders. The amazing fishing skills of the rare African skimmer are just one highlight of the Chobe River, along with some sizeable hippos and crocodiles.
If you come here, then we recommend the following lodges, which are either in or near to Chobe National Park or in the adjacent Forest Reserve.
Muchenje Safari LodgeMuchenje is outside the Chobe National Park, in the Chobe Forest Reserve, 50km west of Kasane - and accordingly away from the busiest section of the park. (Read more about Muchenje Safari Lodge ... )
Chobe Game LodgeChobe Game Lodge occupies a stunning position beside the Chobe River. It is a luxury hotel in the bush. (Read more about Chobe Game Lodge ... )
Chobe ChilweroThe opulent Chobe Chilwero is set back on a hill overlooking the Chobe River and National Park. (Read more about Chobe Chilwero ... )
Over the years this riverfront area has become increasingly popular, and quite busy. It is just a short road transfer from Victoria Falls, so is the obvious choice if you want a couple of nights' safari tied in with a visit to the Falls.
However, if this riverfront area is too busy for you, but you don't want to fly further into Botswana, then consider two great lodges on the opposite bank of the Chobe River, in the Caprivi Strip in Namibia.
Kaza Safari LodgeSituated on the beautiful Impalila Island, Kaza Safari Lodge is right on the Zambezi, overlooking the Mambova Rapids. (Read more about Kaza Safari Lodge... )
Ichingo Chobe River LodgeIchingo Chobe River Lodge on Impalila Island right beside the Chobe River. (Read more about Ichingo Chobe River Lodge... )
Safari lodges and camps near Savuti MarshSavuti is one of Africa's most famous big game areas, with an atmosphere of its own. It's also something of an enigma, quite apart from the mystery over the different spellings used for “Savuti”. You can visit Savuti on one of our mobile safaris, or stay at one of the camps here:
Savute Elephant CampSavute Elephant Camp has 12 palatial tents spread along the channel, all partially screened off from the bush by wooden stockades. (Read more about Savute Elephant Camp ... )
Savute Safari LodgeSavute Safari Lodge also accommodates 24 guests in similarly large – but very modern – wood-and-thatch suites. (Read more about Savute Safari Lodge ... )
Savuti CampSomewhat confusingly, Savuti Camp stands beside the Savuti Channel, but about 30km northwest of Savuti Marsh. It is outside of Chobe National Park, but inside the private Linyanti Reserve. (Read more about Savuti Camp ... )
Small group safaris to Chobe National Park with Wild about AfricaIf you'd like to explore Chobe National Park and the Savuti area on a mobile safari led by a professional guide, consider a comfortable or luxury camping safari, or a private guided safari. See Wild about Africa for a selection of Botswana Safaris to Chobe National Park.
History and wildlife of the Savuti areaKey to this area is the unpredictable Savuti Channel, which sometimes flows from the Linyanti's waterways and into the heart of Chobe National Park, flooding the Savuti Marsh. Even when dry, the marsh is a real attraction; a vast, open grassland dotted with the skeletons of drowned trees. Many animals pass through here on their annual migrations – attracted by the marsh's particularly nutritious grasses. Zebra visit in large herds, accompanied by impala, wildebeest, giraffe, tsessebe, buffalo and elephant. When the river is flowing, we'd expect game densities to be much higher.
Over the last few centuries, the water has appeared and then dried up again several times. When David Livingstone came through Savuti around 1851 it was flowing; by 1879 the channel had stopped and the Savuti Marsh was starting to dry out. The flow began again in the late 1950s, continuing until 1982 when it again dried up. In 2008 it started flowing again, and by June 2010 the Savuti Marsh was flooding.
Aside from the migrants, some animals have permanent territories here. Leopard are always plentiful around the granite kopjes, the packs of spotted hyena and prides of lion are notoriously large, and a cohort of old bull elephants is always around.
Call us and we'll help you to plan your trip around these migrations, so that you get the best from these areas.
Where to stay in Chobe
Our suggestions for safari camps in Chobe National Park
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings in Chobe
This is their success for sightings in Chobe National Park.
Click on a species for more detail. How we work this out.