Botswana Safari Chobe National Park

A 11 day trip to Botswana & Zambia 
5
5 out of 5 stars
9 reviews

Chobe symbolizes the raw beauty of Africa, its hypnotic landscapes revealing both drama and charm. It also epitomizes the wonders of African safari, an incredible abundance of wildlife explored in many different ways. Welcome to a world of almost 100,000 elephants, spectacular big cat action, countless hippos, and a full supporting cast. Combining adventure with tranquility, this unique 8-eight day itinerary immerses you in Chobe, before culminating at the stunning Victoria Falls.

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General Information

Photos
An elephant in Botswana.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Maun, Savuti Channel, Linyanti, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Indelible Residents at Savuti Camp

Scorched land welcomes you to Botswana, a sweeping expanse of dusty savannah surrounding the transit hub of Maun. Views from the plane window provide an indication of scale as you transfer to a hopper flight and cross the northern half of the country. First comes the lavish waterways of the Okavango Delta, then swathes of rich green forest, and now a prehistoric landscape as you land in the very west of Chobe National Park and the Savuti Channel area. Dead trees rise from a shriveled lake bed, firmly rooted yet struggling to flourish in such a challenging environment. Savuti epitomizes the dynamism of Africa’s wildlife world. The erratic channel flows for years, and then mysteriously dries up for decades. Very recently, for the first time in almost 30 years, a once dusty lake bed has become a vibrant marsh. Savuti provides a raw and unadulterated safari experience as the competition for natural resources plays out before your eyes.

Charming and intimate, the Savuti camp overlooks the Savuti Channel, the centerpiece of the region. Private wooden balconies provide platforms that gaze down on the animal world. Your luxury tent is raised off the ground on stilts, so it’s possible to sit on your sumptuous bed and watch a few buffalo wander past. Meals are served under the stars with the unmistakable trumpeting calls of elephants for company. Hidden hides have been built around the channel, providing unforgettable close-ups of the wildlife that approaches the water. Wander down and watch in awe as everything comes seemingly within touching distance. Sometimes you don’t even need the hides to get that close. Savuti Camp is perfectly blended into the environment, and elephants are among the inquisitive creatures that take a closer look. If you arrive in time then the afternoon will be spent on a game drive. If not, rest up and get your first glimpses from the balcony.

Days 2 - 3: Spectacular Safari Around the Savuti Channel

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of water to this region. Since 2010 the channel has been filled with swimming crocodiles and drinking herds. Yet it was parched for decades. An indelible collection of residents has always lived in the area, but the channel’s recent transformation has seen the whole area become an oasis for wandering nomads. Head off into the surrounding hills and gaze down on Savuti from leopard territory. The stealthy cats hide high in the trees, a swinging tail betraying their camouflage. Klipspringer nimbly jump across rocky outcrops while herds of zebra and wildebeest make their irrefutable journeys through the forest. Now descend into the marsh area, tracking the footprints as an abundant cast is magnetically attracted to the water.

Three days provide the opportunity to really explore Savuti’s combination of habitats. Go on game drives through the woodland; lone elephant bulls uproot trees, giraffes feed from the high branches, while kudu herds rest in the shade. When the trees rescind you’re out on open expanses of savannah, the grass color dependent on whether you’re here in wet or dry season. When the rains come the wildlife disperses across a large area, meaning that there is never a moment without something to admire. Some of the plains become near deserted during the dry months, nothing but a roaming lion pride on the parched ground. But the animals haven’t disappeared. Just follow the trail to the water.

A normal safari day will combine a collection of activities with a few hours of relaxing at camp during the mid-afternoon sun. Drive on rugged trails and watch a surreal world unfold. Lionesses are out on the prowl, inspecting the water and causing a herd of zebra to curtail their morning drink. Elephants and giraffe seem to accompany every turn; endearing babies try and keep pace with the rest, lone males walk with a melancholy air, and herds compete for prime river space. Swap the wheels for a boat and saunter downstream, taking in the collection of wildlife from a new angle. There’s a charming serenity to being on the water, before it’s interrupted by a crocodile snapping at an impala on the banks. Customize your luxury Botswana safari trip with drives and boat trips, and drench yourself in Savuti’s spectacular world.

Day 4: Through the Wilderness to Linyanti

The Savuti Channel snakes and stutters as it marks the western edge of Chobe National Park. It’s not alone. Other channels sporadically flow and become intermittent waterholes. Others have been dry for centuries, leaving behind sandy banks and winding trails. This morning your game drive follows these ancient channels, taking you on a challenging route through rarely seen wilderness. Elands grace the trees with their majestic horns and impressive size. Buffalo herds appear lost on the open stretches of savannah. Other antelopes find solace in the woodland, knowing that there is less threat of predators here. Your destination is Linyanti in the Northwestern corner of the park, the extended game drive bringing you to a new camp and exhibiting the range of ecosystems that mark Chobe.

Settle into your camp and gaze down on the permanent waterhole beside your luxury tent. As always, camp and tent don’t reflect any connotations of budget travel. The canvas walls ensure nature’s soundtrack always plays, and the tents effortlessly demonstrate Botswana’s commitment to ecotourism. Concrete would look extremely out of place. Wooden floors and decking surround the tent, while raised beds and en-suite bathrooms provide an elevated level of comfort in the bush. You’ll have hot showers and Western toilets, as well as a wandering cast of ungulates approaching your balcony.

Days 5 - 6: Sandy Banks, Swamps, and Linyanti’s Oasis

Whereas Savuti provides a demonstration of nature’s challenges, Linyanti reveals what’s possible when water always flows. Cruise along the river and stop besides a playful elephant herd. Young males test their strength by half drowning each other, their trunks rising from the depths like a submarine’s periscope. Adults splash themselves with ongoing jets of water, while babies take first swimming lessons beside a mother’s watchful eye. Open lagoons become havens for hippo pods. They spend all day in the water, and from the land you get little more than a glimpse at some snouts. Yet a boat safari brings you within meters; males jockey for position and mating rights, huge hulks of flesh appear like stepping stones across the blue, and it’s possible to see pods that number up to 40 individuals.

During the dry season wildlife migrates for hundreds of miles to reach Linyanti’s oasis. Come in the wet season and the whole area becomes a verdant floodplain, the antelopes poetically skipping through miles of shallow water. Such abundance supports an astonishing collection of predators. Lion prides rest beside your eyes, happily allowing the safari truck to stop just meters away. At least, they appear to be resting. But an open eye suggests that a lion never sleeps. They stare provocatively, a hunter’s opportunism symbolized by this eerie scene. Linyanti provides a genuine opportunity to spot the predators out hunting. Three days of safari helps maximize your chances. Perhaps it’s a couple of lions stalking their prey from a distance. Maybe it’s the panicked yelp as a Sable antelope provides the dinner banquet.

It’s not limited to lions. Leopards come out in the cool hours, dipping their necks below the grass with solemn precision. Wild dogs hunt with remarkable ingenuity, splitting up and then surrounding an impala they hounded away from the herd. When the predators aren’t your focus a dynamic array of wildlife keeps you company. A dazzling array of colors flutters across the pristine lagoon, while a sporadic soundtrack reaches your tent on the breeze. Your time here is split between game drives and boat safaris. Mornings and late afternoons are the best times to spot the wildlife, although your itinerary is flexible and can be tailored on a day to day basis.

Day 7: A Stunning Drive Across Chobe National Park

Chobe National Park is easily wider than a few European countries. The tracks that cross it are rough and rugged, weaving a route through riverine forests, endless marshland, rolling grassland, and dusty savannah. It’s a full day journey from west to east. Well, if you drove without stopping it might only take a few hours. But these rarely visited stretches of wilderness offer innumerable places to stop. Pull up beside a swamp for a picnic with the hippos. Stop in the trees and photograph rare Roan antelope. You’re driving along and suddenly the guide breaks sharply. Did you hit something? No. The truck reverses. A lion pride is resting in the grass and three tiny cubs are within meters of your camera.

Crossing Chobe allows you to not only spot wildlife. It gives a real impression of the park’s scale. Take the elephants. In the last six days you will have seen thousands; after all, Chobe contains the largest population of wild pachyderms in the world. Some estimates suggest that 100,000 live in this area and herds migrate here from neighboring Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Drive across Chobe and you’ll see thousands in just a couple of hours. Just try and imagine what that look like. Difficult isn't it? Every turn seems to bring another herd, and some herds number hundreds of individuals. A full supporting cast accompanies the journey, so expect a day of big cats, indelible antelopes, hundreds of giraffe, and nonstop enchantment. Your destination is the banks of the Chobe River and another private verandah overlooking the wildlife.

Day 8: Elegant River Cruise Along the Chobe

Wake this morning and gaze out onto the water. Elephants are already in the water, and a few hippos have made an early move for wading space. Beyond the Chobe River is Namibia, the flat grass plains offering a glimpse into Botswana’s mystical neighbor. Spend the day on an elegant river cruise, boarding a luxury barge and serenely exploring everything that comes to the riverbank. In Savuti you will have been on boat safari in a small dig out mokoro (canoe), yet Chobe’s width and size means that larger boats can effortlessly make the journey. So relax on the top deck, drink in hand, and wait for Chobe to idyllically reveal itself.

Elephants and hippos are the most plentiful wildlife attractions; it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve spotted them on this trip, every individual is always an endearing sight. Eagles soar overhead, crocodiles sunbathe on the banks, and a troop of baboons calls from the treetops. However, the highlight of an all day Chobe cruise is soaking up the landscape. Lavish grass peeks out above the floodplains, sandy banks are covered in hippo prints, and immense trees dominate one bank, while endless savannah rolls out from the other. A delicious buffet lunch is served on board and this day provides a tranquil end to your safari adventure. After disembarking you will transfer by road to Zambia, and Victoria Falls. It’s less than an hour to this natural wonder and your exclusive lodge on the Zambezi River.

Days 9 - 10: The Smoke that Thunders: Face to Face with the Victoria Falls

Mosi-oa-Tunya can be heard before it’s seen. A cacophonous roar sails across the landscape, continuing day and night for eternity. It guides your journey, increasing in volume as you approach the largest waterfall in the world. Falls can be wider, or higher, but none dispense as much water as this thunderous natural wonder. As you get closer you see the mist rising above the canyon in thick clouds. Through the trees you grab a quick glimpse of Victoria Falls before you walk out onto Knife-Edge Bridge and stand in awe at the scale. A mile-wide sheet plummets 328 feet into the abyss. During high water season the spray rises and then descends onto the bridge, soaking everyone in seconds. Don’t try and avoid it. Getting wet is part of the experience. While high water is best for appreciating the raw power, low water times provide easier photo opportunities and better views. Whenever you visit, you’re going to be inspired.

Spend the day appreciating the falls and understanding why its indigenous name means “the smoke that thunders.” A collection of walkways and narrow bridges take you along the length of the falls, before dropping you down into the canyon for a new vista. Even now the safari hasn’t finished as a collection of baboon troops patrol the walkways. The Zambezi River and Victoria Falls provide a seemingly endless array of entrainment. Pump up the adrenalin levels by bungee jumping or white water rafting, or slow down with a luxury dinner cruise. Then there is what Africa offers best; relaxing beside the river and watching an animal world go by.

Day 11: Homeward Bound

It’s just a short transfer to the airport where you can connect onto an international flight. Even this journey along the main road is likely to encounter some elephants. Look through the camera as you fly home. Only now does it all seem to become real. 

Price

Starting Price 

$5,770
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.