Elephant are a highlight of safaris on the Chobe Floodplains.

Best Chobe Safaris

Chobe National Park is one of Botswana’s best safari parks, and it was also one of the first. Certainly, the best Chobe safaris include time on the Chobe Floodplains, with its constantly changing landscape of islands and waterways.

Appropriately enough for a region which reinvents itself so completely during the year, the river which shapes it undergoes several name changes during its journey from the Angolan highlands to Kasane, where it merges into the Zambezi.

It’s perhaps loved best as the Chobe River, and game drives on the Chobe Floodplains are among safari goers most treasured safari memories. In terms of sheer numbers of game, a dry season drive along the Chobe Waterfront towards Serondela is hard to beat, between the huffing and puffing pods of hippo and elephant quenching their thirst.

It’s when you head out across the Chobe Floodplains, however, that the real magic happens. Viewed from the riverfront, the floodplains can appear deserted, but venture into the long grass and you’ll soon discover immense herds of buffalo and elephant, and – with a little luck – puku holding out in this, their last Botswanan refuge.

Combine a bush picnic with a sundowner cruise on the river to get a true taste of Chobe, while night drives in the adjacent Chobe Forest Reserve can reveal rarely seen nocturnal creatures.

There’s a long history of human settlement in Chobe, and cultural interactions with the people of surrounding villages are the perfect way to round out the best Chobe safaris.

When to Go

From a peak in May, water volumes fall rapidly throughout the cooler, drier winter months. The Chobe River is soon the only reliable source of water, which leads to incredible concentrations of wildlife along the banks and out on the adjacent Chobe Floodplains. Previously submerged islands reappear as the Chobe River reaches its lowest in September, and from this point on rising temperatures only serve to intensify the river’s appeal to local wildlife. Chobe National Park can become a little busy at this time, especially in the Chobe Riverfront area.

Most of Chobe’s rainfall occurs during the summer months, typically from mid-December until the end of February. The Chobe Floodplains are inundated, giving rise to intense natural displays of flowers and spectacular birding opportunities. Water is much more readily available, and the large winter concentrations of game tend to disperse inland (away from the river). At maximum river levels, around April, the floodplains can resemble an inland sea. With the Chobe River ultimately joining the Zambezi, it makes perfect sense that this is also when Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls are at their most impressive.

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