A boating safari down the Chobe River

30 August 2018

The lifeblood of Chobe National Park in northern Botswana is the Chobe river. This is the focus of most of the animal life in the park, and therefore the safari activities.

My favourite experience when I visited the park in April was an evening boat cruise along the river. My lasting memory of my time here will be the elephants. On my boat cruise we did not have to venture far – we did not lose sight of camp before we came upon a herd of elephants looking to cross over from the far bank onto an island in the middle of the river. When they arrived at the river, the elephants had a good drink before wading into the water and swimming across the channel. I spent the best part of two hours (with a gin and tonic in hand) floating on the river watching them.

At one point, a family of elephants with a small baby decided to cross the river. It was wonderful to see the little elephant swimming with its trunk held high out of the water while its mother swam upstream to protect it from the river’s strong current. To see such well-thought-out maternal protection was lovely. Once the baby had reached the island safe and well, I stated watching two young bulls who were having so much fun playing in the river – without a care in the world they were playing and fighting in the water, and making a big splash seemed to be most entertaining for them.

To be floating on the river with the boat’s engine off, listening to the splashing of the elephants and the sounds of the water, was very special.

When to go to Chobe?

I would happily return to Chobe in April. It was wonderfully green, and I am not entirely sure why but there were at least 10,000 dragonflies hovering above the river. It was an incredible sight – they are fascinating insects and with two pairs of wings they are so agile in the air.

Every season has its pluses. My guide Felix was encouraging me to come back in September or October (if I was happy with higher temperatures) when the dry season is at its peak and the elephant numbers in the park increase. He was telling me that in the evenings, when the elephants come down to drink, the numbers are incredible.

Like so many safari destinations, Chobe’s game viewing is at its best during the dry season. This is also when the parks are at their busiest. Travelling in April during the low season, I did not see many other boats on the river – in peak season, the river is busier.

Where to stay?

My memories of Chobe are all about relaxing and taking safari at a slower pace. If this interests you then Chobe Savanna is a camp worth considering. Located on the banks of the Chobe river on the Namibian side, this camp offers just water-based activities. It is a lovely property, and proved to be the perfect place to end my Botswanan safari. My little chalet was right on the water’s edge, and I enjoyed my late morning of my trip sitting on my veranda with a cup of coffee reflecting on what an amazing country Botswana is.


Written by Sophie, ex-safari specialist who was an invaluable member of our team from November 2016 to August 2018. Sophie left YZ after almost two years of working in our London-based office, as her desire to be back in the bush proved too much! We wish her every success for the future.

If you’d like more information on planning a safari to Botswana, feel free to call us on +44 (0)20 8547 2305 or send us an email at [email protected]