We finally arrived at Chobe National Park, one of the most attractive destinations for tight budget travelers. We saw a lot of tourists who were attracted to the safari just like us.
Tour offered at Chobe Safari Lodge
The following is the list of activities provided by Chobe Safari Lodge. Information was available from the tour office behind the lodge reception.
|Game Drive||3 hours||6am / 3pm||BWP265 / US$40|
|Game Drive (Half-day)||6 hours||6am||BWP510 / US$73|
|Game Drive (Full-day)||10 hours||8am||BWP990 / US$148|
|Boat Cruise||3 hours||3pm||BWP235 / US$36|
|Dinner Cruise on Chobe||2 hours||7:30pm||BWP305 / US$45|
*Information above was as of December 2016.
The table above was the list of the basic tours in Chobe and excluded any private tours and activities outside of Chobe. Please see the following picture for the full list of the tours offered by Chobe Safari Lodge.
We reserved a morning Game Drive and afternoon Boat Cruise on the same day because of the park fees of 70 BWP per day per person. The prices above did not include the park fee and we were required to pay the park fees twice if we took the two tours on different days.
We later changed the morning Game Drive to one day after the Boat Cruise because of the last-minute change by the tour operator. Luckily the tour office offered us the waiver of the park fee for the day of the Game Drive because of the last-minute change by the tour operator.
Chobe Safari Lodge
On December 14, it rained the whole night and lots of our stuff got wet because our cheap tent did not have a waterproof cover. Thanks to the last-minute change of our Game Drive, we could work on drying up our wet tent and clothing after the sky got clear in the early morning. While we were drying up our stuff, there were many different kinds of colorful birds came to our campsite to drink water and take a bath. Other than birds, there were so many wild animals at the lodge and its campsites such as deer and wild boars.
Since we had free time until 3pm for the Boat Cruise, we enjoyed the time in the facilities of the gorgeous lodge using the internet in front of swimming pool. For lunch, we had some hot food and some cookies from Choppies supermarket (5-minute walk away from the lodge) at a bench in front of Chobe River. The time until the Boat Cruise was literally a vacation and we totally forgot about our budgeted backpacking trip.
We participated in the Boat Cruise on December 14. The boat departed at 3pm on time and it was large enough to fit 55 passengers. Before the departure time, the guests started gathering near the stairs which led to the boat port next to the swimming pool. The hotel staff checked the reservation receipts for each guest and the boarding process was smooth. The seats were first-come-first-served but either side of the boat had a pretty good view since the animals could be at any direction both in water and on land, although the front side might be relatively better since the tour guide focused more on the front to track animals. Throughout the tour, the guide spoke pretty good English because more than half of the guests seemed like from Europe.
The boat route was on Chobe River, making a circle around the Sedudu/ Kazakili Island which was protected from landing for wild animals. The weather was sunny almost throughout the tour until the last 5 minutes. Due to the nice weather, the view from the boat was amazing and it was easier to find animals under the sun. Not long after the departure, we saw a few crocodiles near a shore, followed by lots of antelopes, hippos and buffalos on the island. There were also a good amount of hippos swimming in the water. The highlight of the tour for us was one hippo running on the land and then jumping into the water. Some other hippos were pooping near the shore which made a group of kids laughed very hard. The kinds of animals we observed during this tour were not that many, but there were lots of big groups for each type. We lost some excitements with hippos due to the large number of them in Chobe, unlike the time we saw the hippo in Loango National Park. If you like hippos, Chobe is your must-go destination. The animals including hippos in Chobe seemed comfortable being the focus of tourism, and we got to observe them in fairly short distance even from the boat.
On December 15, we woke up at 4:30am to pack and left our luggage at the reception storage before the morning Game Drive. The tour started on time and our safari car left from the lodge at 6am. The National Park was about 7 kilometers away from the Lodge, and all the roads to the Park from the lodge were paved. When we arrived at the gate, the driver got off the car to do the registration process for all the guests. There were already another 6 cars at the gate when we got there. During the tour, the driver used phones and exchanged information with other drivers to track the wild animals widely spread out in the Park.
After driving into the Park, first we took the route along the shore. The road was pretty bumpy and at one point all the guests were asked to get out of the car to walk a few steps and then got back in after the car passed the area full of holes. Our bag left in the car was about to jump out from the car. Shortly afterwards we saw a big group of monkeys fighting each other and a group of mongooses passing by the car route, followed by a few buffalos and a few groups of antelopes.
Then the car started driving up the hill gradually and the weather started getting chilly and more cloudy. On the way we saw a few eagles and more antelopes, as well as some lions’ footprints. There was also a big group of buffalos trying to pass the car route. According to our tour guide, a buffalo walking ahead of the group was called as a path-finder that was old in the group and had more experiences in the area to find food for the group. The path-finder stopped in front of our safari car until we left because it seemed like we were on their route that the path-finder found for the group.
The highlight of the tour came the last, which was a group of lions, including one young male and a few females. All the cars maintained quite a distance from them but we were still able to see them clearly. What interested us more, though, was a jackal shouting constantly to the sky about 100 meters away from the lions. According to our tour guide, lions were laying down in the territory that used to belong to the jackal. During our observation, the jackal did not succeed to take back his territory from the lions as they were just relaxing and ignoring the jackal.
On the way back, we took a short break for light breakfast of local bread with hot coffee and tea. We loved the local bread that tasted slightly sweet. Right after we all finished the breakfast, it started raining so the guide provided the ponchos. Due to the rain, the temperature went down quickly and we could not see any animals afterwards.
The tours at Chobe National Park were totally different from the tours in Lope and Loango in Gabon, since there were so many tourists and the area was already developed as a vacation destination. During both the Boat Cruise and Game Drive, we did not see any elephants although Chobe was famous for its large number of elephant population. However, it was not an unpleasant experience because we had already seen a lot of elephants in Loango National Park in Gabon but less hippos. We were fully satisfied by the safari tours in Chobe with both wild exposure to the nature and inexpensive prices.
A little bit after 9am, we were back to the Safari Lodge. We quickly picked up our luggage from the reception storage and took a taxi to the border of Botswana and Zambia for the shared minivan to Namibia.
Chobe Safari Lodge – Campsite
Price: 95 BWP / person / night
Check-out: 10AM. Luggage storage is available at the hotel reception.
WiFi: Yes, but not stable and only available in the hotel lobby. In the lobby, an employee at a bar told us that we had to order something from the bar to sit in the lobby.
Meal: Not included
This Lodge was classified as a 4-star hotel, with a good amount of rooms and lodges as well as a restaurant and outdoor swimming pool, which seemed clean and well maintained. Guests who stayed at the campsite (5-minute walk away from the reception) also had full access to the hotel WiFi and its facilities. The lodge even had some security guards at the campsite for the security of campers. However, there were no outlets at the campsite, only at the hotel reception.
The campsite was clean in general, and a fire stove and garbage can were provided for each site. There were a good amount of washstands and showers in the campsite as well. Like normal campsites, there were tons of insects and bugs gathering around wherever the lights were at night time including shower rooms. The campsites would not be the first option if you could not stand with insects and bugs.
There were some wild animals like deer and wild boars in the property of the Lodge.
Food / Restaurants
Chobe Safari Lodge
A restaurant was located within the Lodge, right next to the outdoor pool. It served buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We had dinner at this restaurant the second night. It costed 250 BWP per person. It served many cold and hot dishes, and even various kinds of desserts. The food was mostly western and some Asian, but not much local food. Overall the food was good, and the desserts and ice cream were very tasty as well.
A middle-size supermarket was 5-minute walk away from the Lodge, and the prices were much lower than we expected. It had everything we saw at a supermarket in the U.S., including food, snacks, drinks and lots of daily essentials. It also had pastry and hot food (sold by weight) station. Totally we spent about 6.5 USD for both hot food for dinner and pastry as breakfast for next day, including water and soda.
In the shopping area in Kasane, there were a Barclays branch with ATM and also standalone ATM from other banks. The ATM at Barclays did not work for us so we used the other one right outside of the KFC and supermarket.