Chobe riverfront is not considered the rolls royce of game viewing for nothing. If you want to see Africa’s animals in a beautiful setting but you don’t really want to spend any effort looking for them then Chobe is the place for you. You can literally place yourself in a spot and watch the animals come to you. It is nothing short of spectacular. The only downside to Chobe is that it (along with the Delta) is Botswana’s premier tourist attraction so you will not be alone. The town of Kasane (the gateway to Chobe National Park) is packed with tourists – many spending big money in one of the many five star lodges and it is sometimes easy to forget that just within the manicured lawns, swimming pools and luxury accommodation is an African town amongst African bush.
We made the mistake of arriving in Kasane in high season with no booked campsite. (Don’t do that.) As soon as we crossed the border from Namibia back into Botswana we got out our Botswana sim card and our Lonely Planet and frantically started phoning all the (now fully booked) campsites. We had our heart set on a place called Senyati thanks to Dan’s glowing recommendation but had already been told by Dan’s contact that it was fully booked. We called anyway and when the lady on the phone didn’t send us away immediately (we took her broken English as a sign that there was space) we decided to head straight there. Senyati is 18km out of Kasane but it is an easy drive along a tarred road so you should not be put off by this extra distance. As we had come to expect with this part of the world, the campsite is a bit of a dust bowl but this is made easier to handle as each site has private ablutions and a covered kitchen area. There are 16 official campsites. We stayed in number 17. It was possibly not the best (the lights were operated from a different campsite’s ablutions and the staff kept forgetting to light our donkey so we had limited hot water) but it was right on the edge and, more importantly, it was a place to stay! The absolute selling point about this place is the watering hole they have built alongside the bar. It is the only water source in the area so attracts animals each evening. Perfectly set up for sundowner viewing.
Our first evening there was incredible. I have never seen so many elephant at a watering hole. They were mere meters from us (although we were safely sitting in the bar) drinking and playing. I was captivated by a baby elephant who spent the whole time trying to reach the waters edge but just couldn’t make it not matter how much he tried to stretch his trunk. It was a very special place to sit and have a drink. Even better, was that the route the elephant took to get to the watering hole was around the campsite so, as lucky number 17 residents, they wold walk right passed our camp all evening.
Our experience with the elephant on the first night became even more special on the second night when no elephant appeared. That first night had seemed circus-like – almost like the camp hired elephant for its guests – that it was good to be reminded that these were wild animals and their presence at any watering hole was not guaranteed. However, not to be left with nothing to watch, a friendly troop of baboon passed by. The highlight was watching another display by a baby animal – this time the tiniest little baboon I have ever seen who spent the whole time at the watering hole climbing to the top of a little sand mound alongside it and then sliding down into the dust.
You will be pleased to hear that, as lovely as it was, we did not spend the entire time at our campsite. We had one full day in Kasane and we were set on spending that in the Chobe National Park – along the riverfront. My mom commented that, for her, Chobe was everything she imagined the Serengeti would be like. We continuously came across endless plains that were littered with different species of animals – the scale of which could simply not be captured on camera! There were elephant, giraffe, kudu, impala, nyala, sable antelope, baboon, hippo… as far as the eye can see. In particular, the giraffe put on spectacular shows for us. We saw them mock fighting, eating, running and drinking in their very awkward stance. Spot of the day goes to Chris, who ignored the hippo we were watching and found a little jackal in the bushes alongside our car.
Cue a very small selection of our photos of animals…