Botswana to Victoria Falls Overland: Chobe National Park

Day 5 is consumed entirely by our drive from 600km drive from Maun to Kasane, the base camp before the Chobe National Park.

The Chobe is another major game reserve in Botswana and is home to the highest concentration of elephants in all of Africa. If you want to see elephants and a lot of them at that, Chobe is likely a 100% guarantee as any other place.

The scenery from the road driving from Maun to Kasane. Not much to look at.

The scenery from the road driving from Maun to Kasane. Not much to look at.

The drive was mostly uneventful in our overland truck. Having done these overland trips so many times, I slept almost all of it thanks to the nice roads in Botswana. As we arrive in Kasane’s vicinity, there are already elephants! We must have seen at least 30 of them just on the high way driving into Kasane!! They were right by the road too. Having been a bit disappointed by the game walks in the Okavango, this is already looking up.

Until we saw a few of these along the side of the road!

Until we saw a few of these along the side of the road!

Warthog selfies!

Warthog selfies!

We eventually arrive in Kasane where we stop to pick up supplies for the upcoming days. There’s not much in Kasane’s besides a few shops and restaurants…until we saw warthogs running around the streets! I’ve never had great sightings of warthogs on any of my travels but we were walking right next to these guys on the side of the road. Turns out, there are many warthogs in town. I got within a meter of some big males relaxing in the shade and of course, snapped some selfies. Warthogs aren’t the prettiest animals but I really enjoy seeing them for some reason, and eating them too of course. This little side activity alone was worth stopping in the boring Town of Kasane!

The local warthog being a straight boss as he holds up traffic.

The local warthog being a straight boss as he holds up traffic.


We eventually reach our campsite in Kasane for the night. There is a pool and fully stocked bar here. After dinner, we go straight to the bar and just like all my previous overland tours, this was the token night out where everyone decided to drink heavily. Great times.

Imbibing heavily at our campsite in Kasane with the group.

Imbibing heavily at our campsite in Kasane with the group.

 

Chobe Boat Cruise (optional)


Our boat for the morning river cruise

Our boat for the morning river cruise

The following morning is followed by an optional boat cruise around the Chobe. Our guide didn’t sell this to the group well at all but this is a MUST DO activity! For the price of 330 Pulas (about 35$), this is a complete steal for what it offered.

We left around 9am from one of the docks in Kasane, boarding a 20 seater motor boat. As we enter into the Chobe national park, there wasn’t much to see and I was expecting just a relaxed morning cruise around a lake with maybe an animal sighting or two. Nope, completely wrong. Within ten minutes, we were greeted with a herd of about 50 buffaloes! Because they were grazing right by the water, we got incredibly close to them (~5m).

First sighting of the morning, a large water buffalo close to the water.

First sighting of the morning, a large water buffalo close to the water.

Crocodile hanging out on its own.

Crocodile hanging out on its own.

As we leave the buffaloes, we are immediately greeted by some hippos and crocodiles enjoying the shade next to the buffaloes. At this point, I realized this is a not a boat cruise but a boat safari!

Elephants in the distance, high up on the hills.

Elephants in the distance, high up on the hills.

The guide knows his stuff. The elephants shortly thereafter came down towards the water for a drink.

The guide knows his stuff. The elephants shortly thereafter came down towards the water for a drink.

As Chobe is known for its huge population of elephants, it was only a matter of time before we spotted a herd of elephants on the hill in the distance. Our guide told us to be patient and the elephants would eventually come down to the water. Low and behold, they indeed come down after a few minutes to drink water. They then proceed to cross the river by walking through it! This was the first time I witnessed elephants crossing a river and it was incredible, especially as they got within a few meters of our boat.

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We hung out here just watching them cross one by one for at least a half hour and not a single second of that was boring. There were a few other boats on the water but the elephants didn’t seem to be bothered..

After this experience, we continued boating until we saw some more hippos, crocodiles, and elephants before heading back to land.

Two hippos relaxing during the day

Two hippos relaxing during the day

 

Overnight Chobe game drive excursion
After lunch, we pack a day bag for a night spent in the Bush of the Chobe National Park. We load up in a 20 person game truck which I’m not a fan of (much prefer the smaller 4x4s) and head into the Chobe National Park which is just a few km outside of Kasane.

More elephants!

More elephants!

The scenery on land (we had just seen Chobe by water), is very dry, filled with bushes and trees. As it was winter when I visited, all the leaves were gone making it a bit easier to see game. Chobe is similar to the Kruger National Park in South Africa when it comes to scenery and vegetation. We drove around Chobe Park in the late afternoon and there was not much to see until we headed to the river where there were hundreds of animals.

And then even more elephants! Can't get enough of these guys.

And then even more elephants! Can’t get enough of these guys.

Zebras for a change of scenery.

Zebras for a change of scenery.

Groups of impalas, zebras, and giraffes dotted the landscape. We take some pictures before driving further along the river to find ourselves with a huge herd of elephants and buffaloes! There must have been at least 50 elephants in this one area and we stopped here to take some pictures and watch one of the reddest sunsets I’ve ever seen descending on the elephants. As I always say, African sunsets are hard to beat and this was the perfect example.

Giraffe walking real close to our vehicle.

Giraffe walking real close to our vehicle.

After the sunset, we drive further down the river and we see hundreds of elephants in the distance!!! Unfortunately, the sun had set and we needed to get to our campsite but wow, I must have seen at least 500 elephants total during my time at the Chobe. It is an incredible place to see the world’s largest land animal.

Dinner at our campsite in the middle of nowhere in the Chobe.

Dinner at our campsite in the middle of nowhere in the Chobe.

We arrive at our campsite which is literally in the middle of nowhere with absolutely nothing. Our tents are already pitched up by the tour group which is nice and there is nothing to do here besides eat, have a few drinks, and go to sleep. The campsite is literally inside the park so the potential for animals to come through is high. Having not seen a single lion on this trip, I was hoping to at least hear one but it wasn’t meant to be. Elephants did come close to our camp in the night however.

We smelled something terrible on our game drive the previous morning and were told it was potentially a lion kill. Turns out we were right, something was killed and the vultures were feasting the next morning.

We smelled something terrible on our game drive the previous morning and were told it was potentially a lion kill. Turns out we were right, something was killed and the vultures were feasting the next morning.

The next morning, we have our breakfast and departed early to go on our morning game drive around Chobe. It was very windy and freezing cold in the morning (so highly recommend wearing warm clothes here), and because of the wind, few animals were out. The game drive was a bit disappointing around the Chobe but you can never script a game drive! The boat safari around the Chobe river however, made the entire trip to the Chobe worthwhile.

Some meerkats invading our campsite.

Some meerkats invading our campsite.

We return to our original campsite in Kasane, pack up our stuff, and make our way to the Zimbabwean border (only half hour drive) before arriving in Victoria Falls!

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