What to see in Botswana
Stretching across more than 10,000 square metres and considered one of the best wildlife reserves in the world, Chobe National Park is famed for its huge herds of elephants and biological diversity. Located in the far north of Botswana, the park is home to the mighty Chobe River, which supports the thriving ecosystem and a rich variety of bird and wildlife. River cruises on the Chobe are one of the best ways to spot the wildlife, who every morning and evening congregate on the river banks to enjoy the glistening waters. Elephants bathe in herds in the river whilst other wildlife such as monkeys, lions, leopards, hyenas and the rare oribi antelope compete for the spoils of the rich marshlands surrounding the river. The park is home to at least 440 bird species.
The Chobe National park is at the heart of Botswana’s tourism industry, welcoming safari groups who stay in the several lodges within the park. Although most tour groups will focus on the abundant Serondela area which encompasses the Chobe Riverfront and is the sure bet for sighting wildlife, there are 3 other parts of the park that showcase the diversity of its landscapes and provide visitors with more authentic experiences. The Linyanti Marsh area is the best for sighting big cats and hippos, whereas the Savuti Marsh area, once a large inland lake that dried up due to tectonic movement, is home to large game in the dry season and phenomenal birdlife in the wetter seasons. Between these marshes lies an arid hinterland, which is often overlooked by visitors but is the best choice for sighting the rare Eland antelopes.
Declared the 1st National Park of Botswana in 1968, Chobe’s first human inhabitants were descendants of San Bushmen, a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe whose existence can be seen in a variety of rock paintings found on hills throughout the park. These people hunted, foraged and lived in this vast land, moving with the seasons, but once the area was declared a nature reserve, they were slowly moved outside of the park’s borders as hunting was no longer allowed. By 1975, all human settlements had left the park and the ecosystem has flourished naturally ever since.