CHOBE & THE OKAVANGO
Botswana’s got a lot going for it on the nature front and the “stop and take seventy thousand picture” backdrops to go with it. It’s probably not the first destination you think of for a safari in Africa, which is perhaps why it should be a top choice for you. The crowds aren’t there, the animals are, along with beautiful landscapes and waterways that are unparalleled anywhere else on the continent.
CHOBE NATIONAL PARK
Perfectly located in the Northeastern district of Botswana, and a stones throw (if you can throw 100km) from Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park is a fantastic safari destination. With the highest concentration of elephants found on the planet, it is where 120,000 of the worlds largest land mammals (Kalahari elephants) call home. An easy tick off the ol’ “Big 5” list.
The highlight of the National Park has to be the Chobe river which runs along the most Northern section. Boat safaris offer a unique opportunity to view herds of Elephants drinking along the shores and swimming across the channel using their trunk as a snorkel. Common sightings include crocodile, hippo, giraffe and buffalo. The riverbanks are often decorated with large amounts of other animal species including waterbuck, puku, kudu, sable, impala, bushbuck add warthogs. You will also be able to spot the usual suspects, the hyena, lions and leopards, if you are lucky.
Fishing is also popular, and permitted, within the park through designated operators. The park is easily navigable on a self drive basis and safari companies are vastly available for tours or additional insight on the country’s most biologically diverse national park.
While it is a fantastic destination with a large amount of wildlife, it doesn’t have enough to triumph as Botswana’s premier safari experience, over the neighbouring Okavango Delta.
THE OKAVANGO DELTA
The Okavango Delta has the rare distinction of being the 1000th site added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, in addition to being one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. It is a vast flat landscape with varying heights of less then two metres across it’s 15,000 square kilometre imprint. It’s comprised of narrow crystal clear waterways which can best be seen from scenic plain rides and hot air balloons. However, the only true way to experience the Delta is navigating through winding channels in a Makoro while embracing the surrounding flora and fauna.
The “Big 5” can be found throughout the region, with an addition of cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, crocodiles and hippos. There is no comparable experience to spotting a hippopotamus in the same water you sit beneath in your Makoro. The interactions with the wildlife is what elevates this destination from “incredible” to “unforgettable”. While some animals are only seasonal, there are a lot of permanent residents as well, you will just have to double check your dates if there is something in particular you are searching for. Birder’s beware, the Delta is home to over 400 species of birds, so bring your extra memory sticks.
The Okavango is a special place, sincerely, a place you will leave and immediately want to revisit. It has the allure of African wildlife, complimented by unique landscapes and water you will forever see your reflection in. Whether you are on a budget camping or staying in a 5 star luxury resort, every visitor is there for the same reason, to gaze upon a remarkable piece of the animal kingdom and contribute to it’s prosperous future. Long live the Delta!