"Wonderful Stay, Spectacular Elephant Sighting" Top 5 Page for this destination Chobe National Park by glabah

Chobe National Park Travel Guide: 97 reviews and 384 photos

Choose Your Time of Year

After arriving and spending some time talking to the guides, I was told that November is normally the time when the game starts to get harder to find in the northern part of the park. Everything is on the move, back into the distant reaches of the park at this time of year. This means that here in the northern part of the park, wildlife activity next to the river is becoming less and less by the day.

This means that wildlife spotting was a bit harder than it would have been even just a few weeks earlier in the year. It also means that I got to see one of the most spectacular elephant herds I had ever seen gathered in a plain next to the river. This is how the elephants migrate over long distances: they form huge herds. This herd probably had close to 1,000 elephants in it, and was still gathering its numbers for the long trip deep into the park.

The photo above was taken during a boat trip from the Chobe Game Lodge, and is only a very very very small part of the huge herd of elephants that was gathering into this very large herd.

You will notice this is a very dry place: the animals will move around due to necessity, as otherwise there would be nothing left to eat. This means some months will be really good for sighting wildlife, and other times not good at all.

Keep in mind: THIS PARK IS LARGE! 11,700 square kilometers. With seasonal changes and changes in local climate due to location, it would take far longer than the average tourist visit to really understand the park well, and be able to see "everything". Also, since wildlife has such a large area to move in, finding creatures during a short visit may not be easy.

Spending the Night

I spent the night at the Chobe Game Lodge in the northern part of the park. This is the only place to spend overnight in this region of the Chobe National Park. Further south I have been told that there are a few overnight camps, but this is the only public overnight structure of any sort the public is able to use. It was once quite famous, and extremely famous celebrities (including Holywood movie stars) once stayed here. During civil troubles across the river in Namibia the lodge fell into disuse, but today it is thriving again, under new management and heavily decorated in a local African theme.

If you want the ultimate package, and cost is no object, this place delivers: they offer an "all inclusive" package that includes unlimited drinks at two bars, all the food, laundry service, and other extras.

The lodge is decorated with a number of local art works, including a vicious man-eating sculpture that protects the guests by scaring away evil.

Or maybe you and your spouse are having a special time together? Be sure to get a room with one of the fertility encouraging carvings on the wall (at least I think that is what was on the wall in my room - see example at left).

Many other tribal works of art decorate this lodge, and the atmosphere is definitely one of an Africa that is just recently tamed (though obviosly still luxurious in its accomodations - the explorers of old didn't have two bars and a full restaurant serving their every need). Even the sinks in the bathrooms are works of art.

Game Drives and Boat Trip

Game drives and boat trips on the river are operated right from the lodge.

Don't get excited about impala. These things are everywhere.

My first trip into the park was to deliver me from Zambia to the Chobe Game Lodge, and on that very first trip we came around a corner and had a leopard sitting in the middle of the road. We never saw another leopard. So, just because you are not on an official game drive doesn't mean anything: always be prepared, and always have a camera within easy reach. I have a $10 camera - one step up from a single use camera - that takes 35 mm film, so if anything ever goes wrong I always have a backup in easy reach, and it doesn't really matter if the camera gets banged around a bit because it is cheap.

However, due to the time of year, there wasn't too much activity in the wildlife department, except for one day (and that day made it all worthwhile) when a huge herd of elephants gathered in a nearby plain in order to start their migration inland.

Wild animals are, by their nature, unpredictable, and unfortunately even in Chobe (which has a reputation for having a lot of game) there can be days when you don't see much of anything.

One morning, we didn't see anything for hours, and so we decided to turn around and head back to Chobe Game Lodge. We then came upon an entire bachelor pride of lions sunning themselves in the middle of the paved road that is the fast route through the area - and not exactly noted for its wildlife. We also got to watch a rather entertaining episode when the lion decided to stalk and chase away a white pickup truck coming the other way that decided to stop - very briefly when the lion decided to take offense - to take a look at him.

The value of Chobe really is the river. The northern part of the park gets lots of animals during the dry season, but in November it starts to rain, and so the concentration of animals in the northern part of the park starts to go down when the rains come and fill up the watering holes in the interior of the park.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great Elephants, good lodging, friendly employees
  • Cons:A LOT depends on the time of year, overnight stay expensive
  • In a nutshell:Too bad it is so expensive to stay an entire year and watch the entire seasonal cycle..
  • Last visit to Chobe National Park: Nov 2006
  • Intro Updated Aug 20, 2007
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glabah

“Do something every day that scares you - even if just a little bit.”

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