Whether arriving by air or road, the first glimpse of the river – deep and dazzling in the sandy terrain – is always breathtaking. It appears as a swathe of brilliant, peacock blue ribbon, winding its way through the tiny town of Kasane, and ensuing wilderness – the Chobe National Park.
Undoubtedly one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, the Chobe supports a diversity and concentration of wildlife unparalled anywhere else in the country.
There are 2 distinct seasons in the Chobe National Park, and the mood of Chobe changes with each, dictating a different experience.
The rainy season (Late November through until March) is accompanied by high temperatures, averaging 35°C to 40°C with night time temperatures seldom falling below 26°C (a summer’s day in Western Europe). Despite the heat, humidity is usually low in the Chobe area and there are long periods of dry weather during the rainy season.
The cooler dry season, May to September, sees an average day time temperature of a comfortable 27°C. It is cold at night, much colder than people expect, with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing.
The Chobe National Park roads, or lack thereof, are part of your safari experience in one of Southern Africa’s most remote and untamed wilderness areas. Whether you fly into camps or travel overland to campsites or lodges, you will encounter gravel roads and sandy tracks on your journeys between points or on game drives. Chobe is 4X4 country and the dirt roads range from excellent to challenging, depending on the season and soil type.
Sunblock and a sunhat should be the first items in your bag – even in winter, the sun is harsh and unrelenting. Choose a shady spot under a tree for your afternoon siesta and drink plenty of water – either bring your own, or, easier and cheaper, drink the water from the lodges or campsites. The water provided by your lodge or guide will be safe to drink, having been drawn from clear natural sources and filtered.
Malaria is an ever-present threat in Chobe, but is far more prevalent during the mid to late rainy season (January to May).
Malaria area – minimize mosquito bites by wearing light, long sleeved clothing and using effective insect repellents (containing Diethyltoluamide DEET) on exposed skin. Sleep under treated mosquito netting or ensure that the doors and windows of your accommodation are screened against mosquitoes. Having a fan or air-conditioner on at night will further suppress mosquito activity. Currently, the three effective anti-malaria tablets are Mefloquine (Lariam or Mefliam), Doxycycline and Malarone (Malanil). It is still possible to contract malaria while on malaria prophylaxis. Note that Lariam may present serious side-effects – please test before you depart.
More on people’s minds is the threat posed by animals. All lodges and campsites are unfenced and wandering elephants during the day are commonplace. The golden rule is to stay within the camp or lodge and not to go too close to animals. At night curious hyena hover in the shadows and lions occasionally pass through – it is therefore vital to use a torch and ensure your tents doors are zipped up.
As for the smaller animals; you are extremely unlikely to even see, let alone encounter, a snake or scorpion. Spiders are non-threatening and flies, at least in the dry season, are of little concern.
Flying within Botswana major areas of Botswana are linked by air. The main airports are Sir Seretse Khama International and Maun International Airport.
Sir Seretse Khama International is 15km (9 miles) northwest of Gaborone. To/from the airport: There are no regular bus services to and from the airport but several hotels run combis (minibuses or vans). Taxis are available to the city center (travel time is approx. 15 minutes). Facilities: Luggage storage, luggage shrink wrap, banks, bar, snack bar, restaurant, post office, duty-free shops and car hire.
Maun International Airport receives direct flights from Johannesburg, Harare, Cape Town and Windhoek. This gateway airport to the Okavango Delta serves a huge tourist market. It is served by Air Botswana, Air Namibia and several charters. To/from the airport: The city center is less than 1km (0.6 mile) walk. Taxis and shuttles are available. Facilities: Car hire and lounge with Internet and Wi-Fi.
Other airports are in Francistown, Ghanzi, Jwaneny, Kasane, Pont Drift and Selebi-Phikwe.