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Very Cool Day Trip to Chobe National Park, Botswana

Elephant in Chobe

On our first full day in Victoria Falls, we decided to do a day trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana.  The Botswana border is about an hour from Victoria Falls and the park is about 25 minutes past that.  Even though we’d just wrapped up 6 days in Kruger, we still wanted to visit Chobe as it’s known as one of the best safari parks in Africa.

Our morning started bright and early at 6:30am when we were picked up and transported to the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls.  After a brief stop at our tour company’s office, we drove nearly an hour to the Botswana border arriving around 8am.  We first got stamped out of Zimbabwe and then we proceeded to wait and wait and wait.  We were the only people with our driver, but apparently we were meeting up with another group and a driver on the Botswana side which were both late.  It took us about an hour for everyone to arrive and then we were off to a lodge to wait for our boat trip.

Around 10am we headed out on our boat safari which was the part I was most excited about.  The boat trip takes place on the Chobe river and goes around an island that is currently owned by Botswana.  On the other side of the island is Namibia as the Chobe river forms the border between the 2 countries.

We were out for about 3 hours and we had quite an adventure!  We started off seeing lot of different birds (I highly recommend this trip if you’re a bird lover), a couple of crocodiles, hippos, a buffalo, and more.

African Darter. He dives in the water then swims with his head out of the water which makes him look like a snake. We saw one swimming with a fish in his mouth.

Heron next to a crocodile

Flying heron

Hippo in the water

Hippo out of the water

Pied kingfisher

Waterbuck and impala

These guys landed on the front of our boat and hung out for part of our trip

We also saw a few new things: 2 different monitor lizards, a group of banded mongoose, and a rock python.  We pulled right up next to the rock python.  Yay!

Banded mongoose

Monitor lizard

Rock python. We were so close to him. Too close!

And then things got interesting.  Our boat guide thought it’d be awesome to pull right next to a crocodile.  Poor Mara and Beckett were in the front of the boat and were so close!  The boat guide then back out and came in even closer to the crocodile – so close that the crocodile swung around then dove in the water to get away.  It freaked out everyone in the boat!  And if that wasn’t enough, he pulled in super close to another crocodile and proceeded to sit there for a while.  The kids tried to move away, but the boat guide told them not to move.  After we moved away, Mara burst into tears and went to the middle of the boat because it scared her so badly.  I don’t blame her – none of us would’ve been happy to be in her seat either. 🙁

Croc selfies – We are probably 7′ from the croc

Croc & Chuck

Video of pulling close to the 2nd croc:

After the crocodile scares, we tooled around some spotting more hippos, birds, and crocodiles.

More hippos. Thankfully we didn’t get too close to them!

And then we headed over to watch some elephants.  Two of the elephants did some play fighting while the 3rd crossed the river.  Once on the other side, he flopped down in the mud then flopped on the other side to cover himself in mud.  Because the mud is so slippery, he had to get down on his knees to crawl out of the mud and onto the land.  The other elephants also crossed and proceeded to take a mud bath as well.  It was really cool just watching them go about their day.

Elephants play fighting

Elephant crossing the river

Crawling out of the mud on his knees

At this point, it was time to head the rest of the way around the island, get close to Namibia (but we didn’t land so we can’t count it!), and head back to the lodge for lunch.

So close to Namibia!

Beckett approves of the boat safari!

Lunch was a buffet back at the lodge, which unfortunately didn’t have very many options at all.  Chuck and I were able to find something to eat, but Mara and Beckett didn’t find much at all.  The desserts and drinks were swarming with bees too (no joke) which made them very unappealing.  At least we prepared ahead and brought protein bars and nuts so they had something to snack on.

After lunch, it was time for our game drive.  We headed out along the Chobe river and got a similar view to the boat safari, but this time on land.

Our game vehicle

Kori Bustard

Warthog on his knees

Red billed hornbill (I think)

We also saw so many elephants!  Chobe has 70,000 elephants in the park, and it was fantastic seeing huge herds of them all over the land.

Elephant drinking water

Hippos in the mud (they look like shiny rocks) and elephants on the land

Crawling out of the mud on his knees

We then stopped for a quick drink break and to stretch our legs for a few minutes before continuing on our game drive back to the lodge.

We ran into a group of giraffes, and also got some great views of the Chobe river on the way back.  We also saw another rock python coiled near a tree.  I don’t have any good pictures – consider yourself lucky as he was HUGE!

African fish eagle

Close to the lodge we ran into a herd of zebra as well.

Our game drive lasted about 2 hours and ended around 4pm.  We then left the park and headed straight to the Botswana/Zimbabwe border to make the trek back to Victoria Falls.  We got back to the Zambia side of the falls around 6pm and were quite hungry and exhausted.  We stopped at an Italian restaurant we’d been at the night before hoping for a quick meal.

Unfortunately everyone else seemed to have the same idea so it took forever to get our food.  In the meantime, poor Chuck was so exhausted he threw up and the kids and I were trying desperately not to nap on the table.

Eventually we ate, made it back to our hotel, and promptly fell asleep.

All in all it was a long, but great day.  It would’ve been nice if we’d left a bit later so we could’ve eaten a proper breakfast and if lunch was better.  But the park itself was wonderful and I’m thrilled we were able to include it on our trip.


Details: We booked our day trip through Shockwave Adventures.  They had great reviews and also offered us a great price.  What I didn’t realize was that they picked up us 30 minutes earlier so we could get from Zambia to Zimbabwe and then we drove from the Zimbabwe border to Botswana.  Other tour companies will pick you up 30 minutes later and drive on the Zambian side to the border which means we could’ve slept in a little more AND gotten some breakfast.  There also wasn’t a tour guide for our whole journey and we kept getting passed from person to person (to be expected), but no one really told us what was going on.  I understand that others can run late, but I don’t think the hour at the Botswana border was handled well.  We also were kept in the dark about the rest of the day.  The tours themselves were great though, so it’s hard to be upset.  If I was going to do it again though, I’d pick a different company.