Planning a trip to Africa?  In this installment of our Africa Travel Guide Series, we continue our adventure in Chobe National Park with a land safari.

Chobe National Park Game Drive

The Boat Safari along Chobe River took up almost 3 hours of our time – and it was time well spent indeed.  A buffet lunch at the Chobe Marina Lodge and an hour later, we were to embark on the next part of the day trip – a game drive through the forest reserve, along the same Chobe River that we had cruised on earlier.

Today’s game drive proved to be vastly different from what we had at Kruger.  Unlike the concrete roads constructed in Kruger, Chobe National Park remains relatively untouched by human activities.  The drive was along gravel paths within the forest reserves.  While it was bumpy and uncomfortable, I very much preferred this authentic experience over the more touristy Kruger.

One of the most scenic views of the Chobe floodplains from a higher elevation inland.

Our first encounter with a land mammal at Chobe National Park.

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Hippo in the Sand

What looked like a huge boulder was a hippo!

Other than the lone elephant we saw during our river cruise, it seemed that 3 other elephants had swam to the marshes for a day of splashing fun.

This was the same funny looking tree we saw from the River Safari, but this time, viewed from its back on land.

Looking out to the floodplains and river from a higher elevation point is clearly advantageous.

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Chobe National Park Watering Spot

This was unforgettable moment number 1 – a large pod of hippos lay resting on the water surface.  I counted about 40 of them.

Lots of elephants headed in the direction of the water.  The Chobe River is known to be the major watering spot for animals in the park, especially during the dry season from May to October.

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Close Encounters with Elephants

During the game drive, our interactions with elephants were as close as what it could be.

For me, observing animals in the wild in their natural environment at close proximity was the most authentic experience ever.

This one did look extremely happy.

And this one very intimidating.  It was huge, by the way.

Wild elephants are already so used to the vehicles, they would walk by in close proximity without a second look at us.

This is what I mean when I say I enjoy observing wild animals in their natural habitats.  How often do you get to see a mother nursing its young while staring straight ahead in your direction.

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High Density of Wild Animals

The fascinating thing about Chobe was that the density of wild animals was much higher than that of Kruger, that at every turn, every short distance, we would come across something in close proximity.

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Buffaloes Galore in Chobe

Up ahead the road was a herd of the most dangerous animals in the wild – the African Buffalo, one of the big 5 animals.   We’ve seen buffaloes at Kruger, but the numbers of them were quite disappointing compared to what we were going to see here at Chobe.

This was just amazing!  They seemed to be heading towards the river bank, a fact proven later when we actually met them there.

All buffaloes, regardless of their nationalities have that same hard stare.  Those at Kruger had given us that stare as well. Its their way of sizing you up, determining whether you are a threat to their herd and whether they should charge.  Once they decide to attack, buffaloes being the stubborn creatures they are, will not rest until they eliminate their victim.  It is the reason why they are so dangerous in the wild.

The sheer numbers of them was just mind-boggling.

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Giraffes – One of our Favourites

Giraffes are one of my favourite creatures on earth.  They exhibit a natural grace in their gait and movements, despite their obviously disproportionate limbs and appendages.

This was unforgettable moment number 2.  The sight of giraffes necking.  I watched as they literally twine their long necks around each other.  I am not sure if it was a display of love.  Or for that matter, whether they were even of opposite genders.

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Buffaloes and Elephants at Water Hole – National Geographic Moment

We finally caught up with the herd of buffaloes earlier who were indeed headed for the water.  Except that it looked like there were a lot more of them now.

This was unforgettable moment number 3.  Watching hundreds of buffaloes at the watering hole, rolling around in the mud.  It was like watching a National Geographic channel, except that we were directly present during the filming of this particular documentary.

Somewhere further upstream from the buffaloes, a large family of elephants were similarly cooling themselves off from the immense heat of the mid day sun.

Unforgettable moment number 4.  Watching a wild elephant take a sand bath.  Elephants throw sand on their own backs for various reasons – one could be to fend off any insects on its back, and another to cool themselves down.

A last look at the abundant life forms in Chobe before we ended this game drive.

Chobe National Park Review

This was one of the most amazing days we had during our tour of Africa.  It was indeed a hassle to cross over the Zimbabwean border to get to Chobe National Park in Botswana, but I assure you, the trouble was worth it.   Although we’ve enjoy Kruger National Park thoroughly, what we’ve seen here in Chobe were animals interacting within their herds in their most natural state, something that we didn’t get to see much in Kruger.  If you are in Africa, we highly recommend Chobe.

Join us next as we head to Cape Town for our final leg of the African exploration.

First published 3 Mar 2018
Last updated 9 Feb 2019

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