When is the best time to visit Chobe National Park?
Chobe, in northern Botswana, is a true year-round destination with its peak game viewing time between May and October. But there's more to it than that...
Chobe National Park is one of Africa's greatest game parks. It's the third largest in Botswana after the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Gemsbok National Park. Chobe is well known for its high density of elephant, with an estimated population of 120 000 animals, making for endless opportunities to observe these magnificent creatures as they move through the bush in search of food or at play in the rivers and other water sources. At times you can get quite close to some of the elephant, or watch the young bulls sparring, so make sure you have your camera ready!
Chobe is an all year safari destination, but if we have to pick a peak game viewing season it is during the dry months from May to October. This is also the easiest and most comfortable time to travel, but also the busiest in terms of tourists. The dry roads are easy to navigate, although there are some sandy roads which can present a bit more of a challenge. The trees and shrubs have thinned out making it easier to spot wildlife, and the daytime temperatures are pleasant although it can get very cold at night.
Apart from the huge numbers of elephant you can also see buffalo, zebra, lion, leopard, hyena and cheetah, and antelope species, with roan and sable, puku, tsessebe, eland, red lechwe, waterbuck, Chobe bushbuck, and of course giraffe, kudu, warthog, wildebeest and impala. There are also crocodiles, and huge pods of hippo in the rivers.
During the dry season, the wildlife can be found congregating around the rivers and other permanent and available water sources, having made their way from the dry interior. The riverfront strip running along the north of the reserve is home to the largest wildlife concentrations in the park. Excellent game viewing can be done either by vehicle along the river, or by boat on a safari cruise on the river.
The Chobe river area is rich in plant life, with mopane woodland, mixed combretum veld, floodplain grassland, bachestegia sandveld, and riverine woodland.
But Don't Ignore the Green Season
The wet season usually brings rain from November to March, transforming the dry areas to lush, green landscapes. The game starts wondering further afield from the rivers and waterholes, but there is still good game viewing along the water as well as some of the best birding opportunities. The wet season is also when all the animals start having their babies which they have been carrying through the winter, so there are plenty of baby animals to pull at the heart-strings.
The temperature and humidity rise considerably getting as hot as 40 degrees Celsius during the day. The afternoon thunderstorms and cloud bursts can make some of the untarred roads impassable. The heaviest rains usually occur between December and February, sometimes resulting in flooded areas during these times. Bear in mind that Chobe lies in a malarial belt, and mosquitoes are at their most prevalent during this season.
More than 450 species of bird have been recorded at Chobe National Park, between the resident species and the migrants, the wet season is the best time to spot them – bee-eaters, African skimmers, raptors, fish eagles, kingfishers, storks and cranes, wildfowl and waders, pelicans, owls, vultures, gulls and terns, warblers, robins, swallows, swifts and martins, and even the Pel's fishing owl.
The Savuti Marsh is transformed by the rains, from a parched landscape to lush grassland which attract the herbivores in their thousands. Zebra and wildebeest are particularly prevalent, passing through on their annual migration from the southern Linyati wetlands. They birth their young before moving on, taking advantage of the new grasses for feeding.
The fishing opportunities at the river lodges in Chobe are excellent all year round. Expect tiger fish, bream, catfish, African Pike and upper Zambezi yellowfish - there are up to 20 species of edible fish to be found in this park, so come prepared with your gear.
You really are spoilt for choice at Chobe National Park, and you will be amazed at the wildlife to be seen at any time of the year.
“I highly recommend you use Namibia Tours & Safaris if you're planning a visit to this country. Great logistics, great value, really personal service. Very fun to work with!”
“I feel that Edward is honest, extremely helpful, and a true professional. I will recommend this company and Edward's expertise to anyone heading to Africa. A perfect trip!!”
“We had an 18-day private guided tour (Namibia, Botswana and Vic Falls) organised by the NTS team. Our consultant Wilmari was amazing both in preparation to and during our travel. Responsive, personable and diligent she put together an excellent itinerary.”
“Our fly-in safari was a life experience we treasure. The scenery, people and arrangements were all outstanding. Bianca of Namibia Tours & Safaris put together the trip of our dreams. We highly recommend her!”
“Namibia Tours and Safaris and their consultants are the best. Ulrike, our consultant, helped us over a 2 year period to plan our 4x4 Safari details. She had the patience of a saint and the insight and knowledge of a true local.”
“Chantelle did a fantastic job in organizing our self-drive trip through Namibia. Nothing was too much hassle and Chantelle was so helpful and responsive throughout the whole process.”
“Having tried to organise this trip myself I was very appreciative of the knowledge and support given by Ashlee who could not have been more supportive.”
“The organisation and response from the initial contact was fast and flawless thanks to Bonique our tour consultant. Her recommendations were perfectly tailored to our needs with a lot of foresight and local knowledge.”
“The service and help we got from Tessa was fantastic, as a result we had a tremendous trip and loved everything in Namibia.”
“Janine from NTS proposed us a great trip that suited our needs and wishes finding the right accommodation and great places. We had a wonderful stay and it was nice to meet with her in Swakop. Definitely recommend!”
“I have no words to express my gratitude to Carmen Scott and all the NTS team for their excellent work. Keep it up and all the best!”
“I cannot find any hassle or negative point for the organisation of this trip. Outstanding material, good accommodation, simply perfect. What a great company!”