Enchanted by Chobe National Park in Botswana

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As we pulled in to our campsite at the Thebe River Lodge in the town of Kasane, Botswana, I could feel my excitement growing. Not necessarily for the campsite (though it was a decent one as far as campsites go), but for the fact that we were tantalizingly close to one of Botswana's jewels: Chobe National Park.

Chobe National Park was actually Botswana's first dedicated national park, and has one of the largest concentrations of game anywhere in Africa, with the stars of the show being elephants.

Elephants are the stars all across Botswana. We had already seen them in the Okavango Delta, as well as up close and personal at Elephant Sands in Nata (my FAVORITE campsite in Southern Africa!). But now we were about to see elephants in Chobe, which would prove to be an entirely different and unforgettable safari experience.

Boat safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana

My Acacia Africa overland group arrived to our campsite early, so we quickly made up some sandwiches for lunch and were soon being whisked off in a safari truck to the entrance to Chobe a mere 5 kilometers away.

A land-based safari in Chobe National Park

This wasn't my first safari of this type in Africa (my first was in Kruger in South Africa), but it *was* my first of this type in Botswana. We were in the Serondela area of Chobe, near the Chobe riverfront at the northeast border of the park. This is the most-visited part of Chobe, and yet we barely saw any other safari vehicles while we bumped along the roads in the park.

Chobe Nationa Park in Botswana

We saw antelope, baboons, giraffes, and lots of hippos right away. And of course elephants. There are thought to be about 50,000 of them in Chobe National Park alone.

Giraffe in Chobe National Park

Hippo at Chobe National Park in Botswana

Elephant in Chobe National Park, Botswana

The real highlight of our land safari, though, was spying two female lions feasting on a buffalo carcass and then stumbling across the whole pride in a food coma right on the side of the road.

Lions eating a kill in Chobe National Park

They were so close we could have almost reached out of the safari truck and touched them. (But of course that's a big safari no-no!)

Lions in Chobe National Park
Cats will be cats

Lions in Chobe National Park in Botswana

RELATED: 8 Things to Know Before Your First African Safari

After our land safari, our guide drove us down to the edge of the Chobe River, where we all boarded a large pontoon boat for what would turn out to be one of my favorite experiences in Botswana…

A river safari in Chobe National Park

The Chobe River is a section of the larger Cuando River, which flows through Angola and Namibia before eventually emptying into the mighty Zambezi River. Within Chobe National Park, the river is the main watering spot for animals during the dry season (May to October), which is exactly when we found ourselves there.

Chobe River in Botswana

When we first set out on our cruise, I wasn't sure that it was going to be anything special. But then we started to see hippos and crocodiles and even a family of elephants on the shore.

Chobe National Park in Botswana

Hippo in Chobe National Park in Botswana

Family of elephants in Chobe National Park

And then the river opened up wider and there were suddenly animals everywhere. Pairs of buffalo, pods of hippos, and elephants with egret passengers. And they were all in the river with us.

Cape buffalo in Chobe National Park in Botswana

Elephant in the Chobe River in Botswana

Our boat was able to sidle up alongside feeding hippos, and idled quietly while a large bull elephant went for a swim (they really DO use their trunks like snorkels!).

Hippos in the Chobe River

Swimming elephant in Chobe National Park
Swimming elephant!

It was a totally different way to see African wildlife.

Elephant chasing hippos in the Chobe River
We also watched this elephant chase these hippos.

Our cruise ended after the sun set, and we headed back to our campsite for a BBQ (or “brai”) to celebrate the wildlife-filled day.

If you're planning a trip to Botswana, be sure to visit Chobe – and don't skip the boat safari!

Boat safari in Chobe National Park


Both of the safaris I did in Chobe were part of my overland tour through Southern Africa with Acacia Africa (check out the tour I did here).

We did both tours through the Thebe River Lodge, which is also where we camped. (They offer normal rooms, too, if you're planning your own trip.) Entrance to Chobe was included with my overland tour, but normally runs 70 Pula (less than $7 USD) per person.

Sunset over the Chobe River in Botswana
Sunset over the Chobe River

READ NEXT: The Okavango Delta Three Ways

Which type of safari would YOU want to do in Chobe National Park?


Going on safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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24 Comments on “Enchanted by Chobe National Park in Botswana

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  1. Just booked our classic Botswana safari. The first day of the trip is Chobe National Park. I can’t wait to til this spring. This story and especially the pictures have me so pumped!!

      Hope you enjoy it! I loved Chobe a lot.

    It’s was amazing. Is that you took all these pictures? I love these animal so much, I will plan my next trip is visit there.

      Yes, all the photos on this site are taken by me, with very few exceptions!

        Good to know, you are not only a great blogger but also great photographer ๐Ÿ˜€
        Once again, thanks for sharing these pictures!

    Incredible. I keep seeing posts about Africa, I just need to go already! Amazing photography too Amanda =)

      YES you absolutely need to go! (And thank you! I definitely took some of my favorite photos ever in Africa!)

    I love all the photos, but the baby elephant with the big ears melts my heart! What an amazing trip. I was bummed to learn recently that Acacia has capped the age of their tours at something like 39 (or below my age of 41, that’s as much as I know! ๐Ÿ™ )

      Baby elephants are the CUTEST!

      And as for the age “limits,” I’m pretty sure they list 18-39 as “suitable ages.” So maybe you’d still be able to go if you really wanted to?

    Observing wildlife is always so much fun especially if we embrace the unpredictable factor. ๐Ÿ™‚ This boat safari looks like such a unique and close experience, even your pictures made us feel we are a part of it a little bit.

      Definitely. Not knowing what you might see makes every game drive all the more exciting!

    This looks seriously amazing! I’ve gotten to see all kinds of Wyoming wildlife this winter, but I’m dying to see African wildlife. Also, wonderful pictures as always!

      African wildlife is definitely different! (I don’t know if I would ever get tired of seeing elephants and giraffes randomly crossing the road!)

    Once again I love your wildlife photography! This southern Africa trip is high on my list of trips I’m planning. This year it doesn’t seem likely, but I might book it for next year. It seems to be a really amazing experience!

      Thank you! And yes, the whole experience of traveling around Southern Africa was so much more amazing than I imagined it would be. And the wildlife! So so cool to see so many of these animals up-close!

    This looks amazing! I’ve only been on safari once before – Kruger in South Africa – but that got me hooked on the experience. I’m already dreaming of the next one!

      It’s definitely something you get hooked on! I went on safaris in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana, but it still wasn’t enough!

    Wow! Amazing photos. I’d love to do an African photo safari.

      It’s a very worthwhile bucket list item!

    Wow this looks like an absolutely incredible experience!

    Kelsey x

      It was! I loved all the safaris I did in Southern Africa, but the boat safari was definitely special!

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