Chobe National Park
Home to the largest concentration of African elephants in Southern Africa, this renowned safari destination is a wildlife paradise and a “must see” destination when visiting Botswana. Chobe offers a contrast of rivers, forest areas and marshlands, with an abundance of wildlife and prime game viewing opportunities.
Chobe National Park indepth
The original inhabitants of what is now the park were the San People, otherwise known in Botswana as the Basarwa. They were hunter-gatherers who lived by moving from one area to another in search of water, wild fruits and wild animals. The San were later joined by groups of the Basubiya people and later still, around 1911, by a group of Batawana led by Sekgoma.
When the country was divided into various land tenure systems, late last century and early this century, the larger part of the area that is now the national park was classified as crown land. In 1931 the idea of creating a national park in the area was first mooted, However, heavy tsetse fly infestations resulted in the whole idea lapsing. 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, eventually however, a reduced area was finally gazetted in 1960 as The Chobe Game Reserve.
Later, in 1967, the reserve was declared a national park – the first national park in Botswana. There was a large settlement, based on the timber industry, at Serondela, some remains of which can still be seen today. This settlement was gradually moved out and the Chobe National Park was finally empty of human occupation in 1975. In 1980 and again in 1987, the boundaries were altered, increasing the park to its present size.
The park is broken into 4 main areas:
The Chobe River Front, near to the town of Kasane. This area borders on to the Caprivi Strip of Namibia and has very high concentrations of game – especially in the dry season when it teams with animals dependent on the water. The area is made up of seasonal flood plains and relics of large riverine forests. A boat cruise on the Chobe River with many hundreds of elephants feeding on the floodplains and huge buffalo herds will be etched in one’s mind forever.
The Linyanti Swamps which form the extreme north west of the park, although most of the area does not lie in the park itself, it is of vital importance as it provides an additional source of water during the dry season. The area is characterized my mopane forests and thornveld which supports large numbers of elephant in the dry season.
The Savute Area makes up the central and southern region of the park, the relic marsh is guarded over by seven low lying hills. Savute is famous for the ancient channel that flows in periods of extreme rainfall and dries for many decades in-between. The Jouberts did most of their early work here and the area is famous for its large lion prides, hyena and elephant bulls. At the moment the Savute Channel is flowing, making this one of the premier wildlife destinations in the world.
The Nogatsaa Area lies approximately 50kms due south of the Chobe River and Kasane. The area is very remote and has no permanent accommodation. There are pumped waterholes which provide excellent game viewing in the winter months – in summer the “cotton soil” roads become impassable but the area teams with elephant during the wet season as it is an important part of their summer range.