Chobe National Park in northern Botswana boasts one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa and that was apparent even as I drove into the park from Kasane! The main challenge with driving in this part of Botswana was whether to drive over that foot-high pile of elephant dung or to swerve around it!
Sitting outside my tent in the Savuti campground I could see a large elephant and hippo grazing in the lush floodplains on the opposite bank of the river.
A cheeky warthog seemed right at home in the campground…
And the sunset was magnificently African, although not quite my best sunset in Africa!
A Chobe game drive
An hour into an early morning safari game drive (simple to organise upon arrival at any of the hotels or accommodations in Savuti) I had been wondering where Chobe National Park’s estimated 50,000 elephants were hiding when at last a big group was spotted. The family was in the water and we all piled out of the truck and peered through the trees down the bank to take photographs.
These are Kalahari elephants, the largest in the world and watching them reach up to effortlessly strip branches from large trees I could understand the concern at their damaging precious woodland in Chobe National Park. There were a number of youngsters and they seemed oblivious to us for a long time. Then they carefully moved the babies to the rear of the group.
This was a most rewarding game drive and watching buck impala clashing, hippos gnawing at each other and storks stepping lightly and fishing at the edge of the river were only highlights.
Another huge group of elephants crossed the dirt road ahead of us, at least 30 or 40 of them, moving towards the water.
On the way back near the entrance to the park a group of baby jackals scampered like lightning into the trees, left by their mother to learn to fend for themselves.
Chobe evening riverboat cruise
A riverboat cruise along the Serondela, or Chobe National Park waterfront is an amazing way to see wildlife. The boat got very close to groups of hippos grunting and groaning and made the acquaintance of an ornery hippo who climbed out of the water to avoid the boat and the cameras.
There were more hippos grazing on the island in the Chobe River (which is disputed territory between Namibia and Botswana), a crocodile glaring from the bank and a magnificent Fish Eagle.
Finally, a herd of elephants were down on a wide river beach, kicking up the ground and throwing the mud over themselves. Then it came on to rain – a real squall had suddenly arrived. The elephants huddled together but continued to enjoy themselves in the water.
I spent the cruise back shivering and trying to keep my camera dry up my shirt but it was worth it because there is something so incredible about seeing African wildlife in its natural habitat!
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you visited Chobe National Park?
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