Budget-friendly Chobe Holiday

Firstly, it’s best to accept that Botswana is a pricey destination. The country’s wise rulers have elected to promote low-volume, high-income tourism to protect its remarkable wilderness areas while creating as many jobs as possible – it is 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 will expend more time and effort.

A pod of hippos wad through the Linyanti river

It is also a very good idea to consider that while the prices of certain accommodations may seem excessive, they are all-inclusive. Meals, drinks including most locally made alcoholic beverages, park entrance fees and importantly activities such as game drives and river cruises are included in the rates. If one adds up the extras needed to be self-sufficient, from fuel to cooking equipment, tents and 4x4 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.

Still, all pockets are not made equal. For independents with their own 4x4 and gear, the public campsites at Ihaha, Savuti and Linyanti are reasonable ($50 per adult a night for internationals, $25 per child age eight to 17 a night). One campsite can accommodate up to three vehicles and eight people. Park fees are extra: at writing, they were P120 per person and P50 per vehicle per day. But the three public campsites aren’t particularly large and are extremely popular, especially in local school holiday; booking a year or more in advance is recommended. There is 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.

A focused lionness chases down her prey

Charter flights are a significant expense and so the further reaches of the park are more inaccessible to budget travellers who do not wish to drive or camp. Consider a budget mobile safari. This involves travelling 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 one gets away from the crowds and into the really wild places. Ask the Discover Africa expert for options.

The other possibility for social adventurers is an overland tour. Overland safaris involve travelling 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.

It's the simple pleasures in life...

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 elephant, 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.

Practical advice

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 too. 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!”


Our Recommended Itinerary

Quick and affordable Victoria Falls & Chobe experience

day 1

Your African journey begins today
  • Quick and affordable Victoria Falls & Chobe experience
  • Quick and affordable Victoria Falls & Chobe experience
  • Quick and affordable Victoria Falls & Chobe experience
  • Quick and affordable Victoria Falls & Chobe experience
  • Quick and affordable Victoria Falls & Chobe experience
  • Quick and affordable Victoria Falls & Chobe experience

day 2

day 3

Game viewing by river cruising

You might also like

Chobe in March

Autumn - March usually sees the last of the rains and the bush is verdant. A lovely time for those happy to enjoy the space, big skies and landscapes and prepared to spend a little more time on the move looking for good game sightings. Nogatsaa can simply be too wet to traverse at this time. Zebra could be migrating through Savuti at this time. Nearby Victoria Falls will be in full flood…

Romantic holiday in Chobe

Couples heading to Chobe National Park will be able to find accommodations and pick modes of travel to suit all tastes and budgets, not have to worry about single supplements, and always have someone to share that marvellous elephant encounter when an entire herd crossed the road ahead of you, bulls trumpeting and matriarchs encircling the baggy-skinned babies… Whether on a top-end cruise…

Nogatsaa and the Southern Private Concessions

There are two more areas within this 11,700km2 wilderness to explore, both very distinctive and far more remote than the bustle of the Chobe Riverfront. These are Nogatsaa, and Linyanti. Nogatsaa, an off-the-beaten-path sweeping expanse of grasslands with mopane and deciduous woodlands, is only 80km south of Kasane, but feels like another world. There is just one lodge in the area (at…

Chobe in May

Winter - Some say Botswana is the most beautiful country in Africa this month – and it’s still shoulder season, so specials can be found. Temperatures are definitely cooler in mornings and evenings, take layers. Kasane and the Chobe Riverside will be getting busier as high season approaches. Game of all kinds will start to be drawn to water sources and is easier to see, but it’s…

Savuti

The often biscuit-dry, wild and eternally surprising Savuti region (also spelled “Savute”; it means “mystery”) is an entirely different experience to the Chobe Riverside. At its heart is the enigmatic 100km-long Savute Channel, which follows no laws visible to humans and flows only when it will – remaining dry for decades at a time. Tiny shifts in the tectonic plates below may…

Chobe in December

Summer - Humid, with rain. The wetter weather can bring cooler temperatures, so pack a jacket or jersey. The antelope baby boom peaks: by mid-month, most wildebeest, impala, tsessebe and warthog will have dropped their offspring. Good rains will have soaked the earth and termite alates (the ones with wings, often called flying ants) erupt from the ground, sparking bird feeding frenzies.…

Popular Chobe National Park Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Big Five safari in the Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve

Botswana Chobe and Moremi Adventure safari

Encounter the extraordinary herd of elephants and other species that will make your safari remarkable ...

 | Botswana Photographic Scheduled Safari

Botswana Photographic Scheduled Safari

Let us take you one the adventure of a lifetime through the Chobe National Park, Khwai Community Area and Moremi Game Reserve. ...

 | Chobe National Park - Savuti package

Chobe National Park - Savuti package

If seeing African elephants is on your travel bucket list, then the Chobe National Park should be right at the top...

 | Botswana and Zimbabwe safari

Botswana and Zimbabwe safari

Experience the best of Africa, from the Okavango Delta – to the diverse game viewing at the Chobe National Park and ending at the thundering Victoria Falls...

 | Highlights of Southern Africa

Highlights of Southern Africa

Exploring these areas of the Southern African continent should on top of your bucket list...

 | Highlights of Botswana

Highlights of Botswana

Experience two of Botswana's best safari destinations; the Savute region and Okavango Delta ...

 | Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience

Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience

Experience the smoke that thunders and enjoy spotting elephant, buffalo, lion and hippos at the Chobe River...

 | Victoria Falls and Chobe Safari

Victoria Falls and Chobe Safari

Encounter the smoke that thunders and explore the land of giants in the Chobe National Park...

Boating on the Chobe River | Quick and affordable Victoria Falls & Chobe experience

Quick and affordable Victoria Falls & Chobe experience

Visit Livingstone, Zambia, to marvel at the Victoria Falls – or 'the smoke that thunders' – before going on safari and a river cruise in Botswana's Chobe National Park...

 | Safari in Zimbabwe and Botswana

Safari in Zimbabwe and Botswana

Explore the thundering Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the wildlife rich Okavango Delta...