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Chobe National Park

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The Chobe National Park, Botswana

The Chobe National Park, which is the second largest national park in Botswana and covers 10,566 square kilometres, it has one of the greatest concentrations of game found on the African continent. Its uniqueness in the abundance of wildlife and the true African nature of the region, offers a safari experience of a lifetime.

The original inhabitants of what is now the park were the San people, otherwise known in Botswana as the Basarwa or Bushmen. They were hunter-gatherers who lived by moving from one area to another in search of water, wild fruits and wild animals.

In 1931 the idea of creating a national park in the area was first mooted, in order to protect the wildlife from extinction and to attract visitors. In 1932, an area of some 24,000 square kilometres in the Chobe district was declared a non-hunting area and the following year, the protected area was increased to 31,600 square kilometres. However, heavy tsetse fly infestations resulted in the whole idea lapsing in 1943.

In 1957, the idea of a national park was raised again when an area of about 21,000 square kilometres was proposed as a game reserve and eventually a reduced area was gazetted in 1960 as Chobe Game Reserve. Later, in 1967, the reserve was declared a national park - the first national park in Botswana. In 1980 and again in 1987, the boundaries were altered, increasing the park to its present size.

A major feature of Chobe National Park is its elephant population. First of all, the Chobe elephant comprise part of what is probably the largest surviving continuous elephant population. This population covers most of northern Botswana plus northwestern Zimbabwe. The Botswana's elephant population is currently estimated at around 120,000. This elephant population has built up steadily from a few thousand since the early 1900s and has escaped the massive illegal offtake that has decimated other populations in the 1970s and 1980s. The Chobe elephant are migratory, making seasonal movements of up to 200 kilometres from the Chobe and Linyanti rivers, where they concentrate in the dry season, to the pans in the southeast of the park, to which they disperse in the rains. The elephants, in this area have the distinction of being the largest in body size of all living elephants though the ivory is brittle and you will not see many huge tuskers among these rangy monsters.

The park is divided into four distinctly different eco systems:
Serondela with its lush plains and dense forests in the Chobe River area in the extreme north-east
The Savuti Marsh in the west about fifty kilometres north of Mababe gate;
The Linyanti Swamps in the north-west
And the dry hinterland in between

Entrance to the Park requires a daily Park Entrance Fee ( link to current costs), For local Lodge and Hotel Residents this is included in the price of your Game Drive.
Mobile Camping Safaris that travel through all regions of the Park are an excellent way of discovering the diversity of The Chobe National Park
Government Public camping grounds are situated within Chobe at Ihaha, Savuti and Linyanti with toilet and shower facilities available.

Each of these camping grounds has its own unique character and a visit to each is recommended - however, it is once again stressed that a four-wheel drive vehicle is essential. Visitors travelling through the park should remember that this is essentially a wilderness area and, as such, no services are available between Kasane and Maun. Because of this, it is wise to carry basic safety items such as water, food, fuel, torches, extra wheels, tools, jacks and pumps. In all public camping grounds booking for campsites is essential, through the Department of Wildlife and National Parks at DWNP@Gov.bw .

Game viewing is at its best during the dry season April to October, when the majority of natural pans have dried up. It is also wise to note that no fuel supplies are available within the park and visitors travelling between Kasane and Maun should ensure that they are self-contained for the entire journey. All drinking water should be boiled or chemically treated. Mosquitoes are prevalent throughout the park and visitors are strongly advised to take an anti-malarial prophylactic before, during and for four weeks from visiting the park, especially during the rainy season.

Have look at the following Chobe camps and lodges as an option to stay at - or at the exquisite tours we have put together...

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