Budget-Friendly Chobe Holiday
Firstly, it’s best to accept that Botswana is a pricey destination. The country’s rulers have elected to promote low-volume, high-income tourism to protect its remarkable wilderness areas while creating as many jobs as possible – it’s possibly the most expensive safari destination on the continent.
There are many ways to get close to the marvels of Chobe National Park. Still, those on a budget will generally save hard cash but expend more time and effort.
It’s also worth considering that while the prices of certain accommodations may seem excessive, they are all-inclusive. Meals, drinks, park entrance fees and, importantly, activities such as game drives and river cruises are included in the rates.
If you add up the extras needed to be self-sufficient, from fuel to cooking equipment, tents, and 4×4 hire cars, maps, and permits, the camp and lodge prices start to come into perspective. Add the difficulty of sourcing fuel and quality food in a more remote area such as Savuti or Linyanti to the mix. Of course, for adventurers and families, this can still be the way to go.
For independents with their own 4×4 and gear, the public campsites at Ihaha, Savuti, and Linyanti are reasonable ($50 per adult a night for internationals, $25 per child aged eight to 17 a night).
One campsite can accommodate up to three vehicles and eight people. Park fees are extra. The three public campsites aren’t huge and are extremely popular, especially in local school holidays. Booking a year or more in advance is recommended.
There’s also the option of booking into self-catering accommodation in Kasane (there are also private camping options available) and dipping into the Riverside area as desired. Note the daily entrance fee allows for multiple entries.
Charter flights are a significant expense, so the park’s further reaches are more inaccessible to budget travelers who wish to avoid driving or camping.
Consider a budget mobile safari. This involves traveling with a group and camping in private areas, and some outfits pare back the luxuries to make the experience more affordable.
You will generally stay in two-person dome tents with sleeping bags and mats rather than walk-in tents with camp beds and good linen, but guides are skilled, and you can get away from the crowds and into the really wild places. Ask your Discover Africa expert about the best options.
The other possibility for social adventurers is an overland tour. Overland safaris involve traveling long distances in relatively large groups in a heavy-duty vehicle. Trips tend to take in all the major sights and not linger in any one place for long, and guests often help set up camp and help with food preparation. While they are not for everyone, others find them full of camaraderie and company.
Of course, wildlife has no respect for budgets and is wonderfully egalitarian. A budget safari vehicle has just as much chance of stumbling on explosive predator action or being surrounded by a breeding herd of elephants rumbling to each other and chewing on trees. What really counts is your guide’s experience and knowledge. It’s worth paying for the best you can afford.
Travel Tips for a Budget-Friendly Chobe Holiday
Self-driver alert: the black-cotton soils around the Nogatsaa area are notorious when wet. Author Mike Main’s tips for driving on it? “Don’t unless you absolutely have to. Try to select the appropriate gear before entering a stretch of mud; slow and steady without excessive speed or revving is the key. At any water stretches which might be doubtful, send [an unfortunate companion] ahead to wade through!”