In continuation of my overland tour from Maun, Botswana to Victoria Falls, the second part of the journey took me to the famed Chobe National Park. After an amazing time boating through the marshes of the Okavango Delta, it was time to visit the ultimate Elephant sanctuary at the Chobe.
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.
Driving from Maun to Kasane
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. Kasane is about 5 hours east of Maun and is near the Botswana-Zimbabwe border.
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.
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!
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.
Chobe Boat 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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Insane amounts of elephants in the Chobe
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. I’m not sure why there are so many elephants in this park in particular but I can’t complain. Watching the fiery sun set over a herd of a 100+ elephants was something truly special that I will not soon forget.
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.
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.
We return to our original campsite in Kasane, pack up our stuff, and make our way to the Zimbabwean border (only half hour drive). Next stop on the itinerary? Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe!
Chobe National Park day trip
Chobe National Park is a very popular day trip from Victoria Falls. Many tour operators offer day trips to the same places I went to departing from Victoria Falls (I went in the reverse direction on my trip). If you’re in Victoria Falls and looking to visit Chobe, talk to your guesthouse or visit any of the many tourist agencies in Victoria Falls and ask about this tour.
From Victoria Falls, Chobe is just a two hour drive assuming the border is not crazy (which it very often is!). Tours depart Victoria Falls at 7am in the morning and you’ll be home around nightfall.
Prices as of 2018 will likely be $150-$175 per person for the day trip. Although Botswana is visa free for most Western countries, re-entering Zimbabwe may mean you need to buy a visa again. With this in mind, if you know you’re going to go to Chobe, I would purchase the double entry visa as opposed to single entry visa.
Luxury Accommodations in the Chobe
While I went on a budget tour in the Chobe with an overland company, Chobe and the rest of Botswana is known to have some of the most exclusive and luxurious accommodations on the continent. See my article about luxury accommodations in Botswana for more information if this is your style!
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