Botswana's third largest park, Chobe National Park, is biologically diverse. The idea to set up a national park first appeared in 1931. However, its creation got delayed and in 1960, the Chobe Game Reserve was officially created. Later in 1967, the reserve was declared a National Park.
The park comprises of four wildlife areas, each corresponding to one distinct ecosystem, namely the Serondela area, the Savuti Marsh area, the Linyanti Marsh, and the little known hinterland between Linyati and Savuti Marshes.
The Chobe National Park area was once inhabited by nomadic hunter-gatherers, Basarwa or San Bushmen. The rock paintings made by these hunters can still be seen inside the rocky hills in the park.
The park gets its name from the Chobe River which forms the border between Botswana and Caprivi Strip.
During the time, the park was set up, there were industrial settlements inside the park, timber being the prominent industry. These industries were slowly moved out of the park and in 1975, that whole area was exempted from human intervention.
Savuti Marshland Area
The area towards the southwest corner of the park has traces of the lake that once stretched across the region. Savuti is famous for its predators - the spotted hyena and resident lion.
The Linyanti area is home to herds of buffalo, zebra and elephant. Kori bustards and large secretary birds can be spotted in this area.
Summer migrant and water birds like Abdim's storks, carmine bee eaters, fish eagles can be spotted in large numbers in the area. The tough desert-like terrain of the region makes it an important destination for adventure lovers.
The densest wildlife reserve in the park, the Serondela area (Chobe Riverfront) is crowded with animals throughout the year. However, during the dry season, the gathering of the huge herds of elephants and buffalos around this stretch of water is a famous view.
This place can be reached via cruises, small boats or 4WDs. Lion, Elephant, Hippo, Crocodile and Buffalo can be easily spotted in the area.
For birdwatchers, this area is a paradise. The riverfront is host to 450 different bird species including African fish eagle, Sacred ibis, cormorants, darters, Spur-winged Geese, Egyptian Geese, etc.
The Linyanti river spreads into a 900 sq km plain where large herds of wildlife can be spotted during the dry season. The sightings of elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards are common. This is considered to be the best place to spot African wild dogs.
You may also spot Red Lechwe, Sitatunga, Roan Antelope, Kudu, Zebra, Waterbuck and Impala, but the sightings aren't guaranteed.
When to Visit
The dry season from May to October is the best time to visit the park. The roads are accessible by safari vehicles or self-drive ones. Due to the scarcity of water in the other areas of the park, the concentration of wildlife around the river is maximum.
How to Reach
The easiest way to reach the park is to catch a flight to Kasane Airport which is located at the northern entrance of the park.
The other nearby airports are Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe and Zambia's Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport. You can drive to the park or arrange for a pickup to a lodge or park.
Gobabis Hill (Savuti) - 4000-year old rock art sets of San origin is a must-see
Savuti Marshes (Savuti) - Once-dry tracks are now filled with water attracting predators and preys from the entire region
Leopard Rock (Savuti) - Sightings of the African big cats is common here
Kasane Forest Reserve (Kasane) - Dense forest patch balances the Kazangula - Nata Road
Caracal Biodiversity Centre (Kasane) - Biodiversity centre is home to birds, mongoose and a large variety of snakes
Taking an early morning or late afternoon safari ride is a leisure experience. A night drive to witness the park's nocturnal wildlife can be a lifetime experience.
Tourists can book rooms in the Chobe Game Lodge, the only one inside the park or at any other nearby lodges. For most rustic accommodation, park's private tent camps are the best choice.