On my recent trip to Southern Africa, I was thrilled to be visiting Botswana where I would be staying on a houseboat floating up and down the Chobe River, with Northern Botswana on one side and Namibia on the other. I spent three days and two nights on the river not far from the Botswana town of Kasane, and of course, I was most excited to see all of the wildlife that lives in and around the river.
Be it morning, noon or night, wherever you look out on to the Chobe River you are sure to see an animal. From a large herd of cape buffalo grazing at the water’s edge to baboons having a drink of water, elephants taking a bath, crocodiles lying in the sun, fish eagles swooping overhead or hippos fighting each other, there’s always action happening somewhere.
A contemplative baboon. Photo by A. Berger.
Along this part of the Chobe River is also where Chobe National Park is located. Here you can take safaris on land through the park and along the water’s edge, or go by boat along the river to see the animals. In my opinion, the boat is the better option here, as you can get closer to some of the animals and it is not nearly as bumpy as a safari jeep.
My favorite animal to see was the hippopotamus. Generally throughout the day, hippos spend all of their time in the water to stay out of the heat, waiting until the nighttime to come out of the water and eat. However, the hippos along the Chobe River are different. Over the past few years, the populations of impala, buffalo, elephants and other animals that share the hippo’s food source have increased. There are over 70,000 elephants in the Chobe National Park alone – the highest population in all of Africa. Because of this, the hippos now come out in broad daylight to eat so they don’t miss out on the food. Sad for the hippos, but great for people wanting to see more then just their nose, eyes and ears sticking out of the water.
Along the shores, there are small villages that make their livelihood by fishing off of the river. Sadly, though, the river is being over fished, making it harder for the people and animals to find the food they need. Also, with all of the crocodiles in the river it can be quite dangerous. The crocodiles make animals coming to the water’s edge for a drink quite anxious, as a croc could jump out at them at any minute.
A crocodile on the banks of the Chobe river. Photo by Paolo.
In some parts of Africa, you can go days without seeing cape buffalo; however, along the Chobe on my first day, we easily saw a herd of 300. There was a dust trail in the air that followed them as they ran towards the banks for a drink and rolled around in the wet mud, always keeping an eye out for predators.
A common sight and sound in the area was the majestic fish eagle, always hanging out in a tree nearby. It takes a while to get use to their odd screech that sounds like a seagull; a funny noise coming from such a pretty bird. If you are a bird lover, the Chobe River is a great place to see them and other birds like the African openbill stork and goliath heron. For excellent animal encounters, I definitely recommend visiting the Chobe River in Botswana.
The African openbill stork. Photo by Ploverman.
The Chobe River guarantees amazing wildlife viewing but did you know that Botswana also is home to the Okavango Delta – another wildlife mecca? G Adventures offers small group tours throughout this wonderful region in Africa. So, sit down, and read up!