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The Ultimate Guide To The Chobe River

Situated in Southern Africa, the Chobe River serves as a natural border between Botswana and Namibia. This remarkable river is not only a scenic wonder but also plays a vital role in supporting the diverse ecosystem it traverses. Acting as a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of animals, it is particularly renowned for being home to Africa's largest elephant population.

The Chobe River and the adjacent Chobe National Park form an extraordinary wildlife haven, making them a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The combination of the river's rich resources and the park's pristine wilderness creates an unparalleled opportunity to witness an abundant array wildlife.

The Chobe River provides critical habitat for a variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, hippos, crocodiles, and various species of birds.
Boat Cruise On The Chobe River

Where Is The Chobe River?

The Chobe River is located in Southern Africa, specifically in the northern part of Botswana. It forms the border between Botswana and Namibia, flowing through Chobe National Park before joining the Zambezi River.

The main way to access the Chobe River is via time spent in Chobe National Park

Chobe Map

Wildlife Of Chobe National Park

The Chobe River, blessed with its abundant water source, acts as a magnet for a diverse range of wildlife. It proudly hosts iconic species such as elephants, lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs, and is a haven for common antelope species like impala, kudu, and zebra, as well as the more elusive species such as puku. The river itself is lively habitat for a substantial hippo and crocodile population. Definitely not a place for an afternoon swim!

Perhaps, the true essence of the why the Chobe River is such a renowned wildlife destination is due to its unbeatable elephant sightings. Regarded as one of the final strongholds for elephants in Africa, the Chobe River offers an unparalleled opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. During the dry season, vast herds make their way to the river's edge to quench their thirst, spreading across the expansive Chobe floodplains. The Chobe ecosystem, including the full Chobe National Park is estimated to hold an astonishing 120,000 elephants, constituting approximately 30% of the entire African elephant population.

Nowhere else in Africa will you encounter such breathtaking gatherings of elephants as at the Chobe River. Beholding these magnificent creatures as they gather to drink, play, and gracefully navigate the river's waters is an experience that etches itself permanently into your memory.

Different Ways To Experience The Chobe River

There are two main ways of experiencing the Chobe River either by vehicle with morning and afternoon game drives in the National Park. Game drives primarily focus on driving the roads adjacent to the Chobe River.

The other way to experience the Chobe River is venture out on a boat cruise along the river. Boat cruises come in two forms, shorter 2-3 hour cruises at sunrise or sunset or a longer multi night boat cruise aboard luxury riverboats or houseboats.

Game Drives

Embarking on a game drive is a must when visiting Chobe National Park, and the lodges surrounding the park offer excellent opportunities for such experiences. Game drives provide an immersive way to witness thrilling wildlife sightings. The advantage of game drives is the increased likelihood of encountering predators, as vehicles can scan both the riverfront and venture inland to actively search for wildlife. It's important to note that during peak times, the park can become busy, resulting in multiple vehicles all seeking wildlife sightings in the same area. However, by carefully selecting the right lodge (more on this below), you can avoid much of the congestion while still enjoying the park.

Game Drive offered by Muchenje Safari Lodge

Boat Cruises

A Chobe River cruise is an unforgettable experience that offers an intimate look at the incredible array of wildlife that calls this area home. From your comfortable riverboat, you can watch elephants, buffalo, giraffes, and countless other species come down to the river to drink and bathe.

One of the benefits of embarking on a Chobe River cruise is the unique perspective it offers. While game drives on land provide an exhilarating experience, a river cruise presents a serene and tranquil experience. Take a seat, unwind, and enjoy the scenery and let the animals come down to the river bank where you will be waiting with a G&T in hand.

Several cruising options are available, including full-day cruises, photographic cruises, 2-3 hour morning and afternoon cruises offered when staying at one of lodges of Chobe. There are even multi-day cruises on larger luxury vessels. The type of cruise you choose to experience the Chobe River will depend on your personal preferences and budget.

Best Lodges To Experience The Chobe River

Here are some of our favourite lodges in the Chobe region.

Chobe Savanna Lodge:

Nestled along the banks of the Chobe River, Chobe Savanna Lodge provides an ideal setting to experience a river-based photographic safari. With twelve spacious chalets, the lodge offers an intimate and luxurious stay. Enjoy breathtaking views of the park from various vantage points and savour private dinners on the raised deck or fireside gatherings under the starry sky. The lodge's location in Namibia's Eastern Zambezi Region offers a captivating view of the Chobe River's floodplains, attracting diverse wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, hippos, and predators. Expert guides ensure an immersive exploration of this magnificent ecosystem from the water.

Pangolin Chobe Hotel (Speciality Photographic Lodge)

Chobe Pangolin is a specialised photographic lodge that goes beyond providing exceptional safari experiences on the Chobe River. Run by Pangolin Photo Safaris the hotel is dedicated to assisting and guiding guests with their cameras, ensuring they capture incredible photos that truly showcase the beauty of the Chobe. Catering to both beginners and professional photographers, guides can offer support and guidance at all levels.

While game drives are available, the lodge primarily focuses on boat cruises with specially built tender boats. The Chobe is often combined with other renowned destinations that offer land-based game activities, as such Pangolin Chobe Hotel places a strong emphasis on water-based experiences aboard the photo boats. Anticipate a ratio of approximately three to one in favor of captivating water-based activities during your stay at The Pangolin Chobe Hotel.

Muchenje Safari Lodge

Nestled in the serene western section of Chobe National Park, Muchenje offers an extraordinary and immersive wildlife experience. With its owner-run and managed approach, the lodge places a strong emphasis on attention to detail, ensuring that no request is too big or small. Situated within the Chobe Forest Reserve, Muchenje allows quick access to the park's tranquil river routes and provides additional activities like walking safaris and night drives, adding an extra layer of excitement to your safari experience. The western side of the park is much quieter and a stay at Muchenje helps alleviate getting caught in some of the traffic around wildlife viewing.

Chobe Game Lodge

Chobe Game Lodge is a haven of peace and tranquillity inside the Chobe National Park and the only permeant lodge located in the National Park. Being located in the park means that you are first out on game drive and have a head start on all the other vehicles At the lodge a quiet spot on one of the many expansive viewing decks and boardwalk is never far away. Each offers a different perspective on the unique wilderness that surrounds the lodge. ​ Every one of the 44 elegantly and very luxurious rooms is air-conditioned, with en-suite bathrooms and a large terrace facing the Chobe River. Those who wish to experience Chobe in ultimate luxury can stay in one of the four suites, each with its own private terrace and infinity plunge pool.

Multi-Night River Cruises

An exploration of the Chobe River also offers the opportunity for a number of multi-night luxury river cruises. For those that can't get enough of the river and want to spend a couple days relaxing, spotting wildlife, sipping cocktails while you gently cruise up-stream.

Our two recommendations are the Chobe Princess houseboats, for a small and intimate experience or the luxurious Zambezi Queen for a larger vessel with slightly more amenities.

Chobe Princess

Zambezi Queen:


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