Five-star Chobe holiday
Chobe National Park has safari accommodations to rival the best on the continent. If price is not a concern, choosing a safari is more about personal preferences and the desire for action and adventure or peace and tranquillity. Some may also chose accommodations according to their key interests, such as summer migrant bird species or certain predators.
The Chobe Riverside will have suitable suites and lodges, but it depends on whether one has come to Botswana to avoid the crowds. In high season, this entire area becomes very busy and as Chobe is a national park, sightings are often shared with other vehicles, to the point of jostling for position. If the thrill of river cruises and seeing enormous herds of ellies and buffalo are more important than exclusivity, visitors will be more than happy. There is also excellent birding and fishing in this area. One can also consider renting an entire “floating villa” or houseboat.
Otherwise, those who prefer more intimate lodges with ample space will wish to head further afield, deeper into the park or to the private concessions. Flying is by far the quickest and easiest way to get around (and scenic as planes fly low); charter flights from Kasane or Maun are easily arranged.
It may be best to pinpoint one’s primary aim. If the sights and sounds of the bush and game drives with expert trackers are all that is required, look for an intimate lodge with fewer guests. Private concessions will be able to offer night drives and guided walks in daylight hours, unlike most of the rest of the park, adding an extra dimension to the trip.
For predators, Savuti remains a hot spot, both in dry season when animals congregate around the waterholes, and when the zebra pass through on their annual migrations. Lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog are present.
Those who know they enjoy an extra level of activity may consider adventures such as a mokoro paddling adventure in Selinda (note this is entirely dependent on water levels and seasonal to boot, include the Okavango in the itinerary if it is on the bucket list). Riding and walking safaris, again all in the private concessions, are however easier to guarantee.
Birding and photography specialists can ask about top-end guides to help them feed the itch for that elusive species or perfect shot. Private guided safaris that offer the best guides in the business and a deluxe camping experience are options for those who want the sound of the bush filtered through canvas, and no electricity to dim the stars.
Top-end names to consider, which all have their own style and approach, include Great Plains, Wilderness Safaris, &Beyond and Desert & Delta.
- Botswana isn’t really a shopping destination, but look out for quality wooden carvings, and the area’s speciality: intricate baskets made from mokolwane palm fibres, handwoven as taught to Hambukushu women by their mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. The colours are made by soaking the fibres in natural dyes. Traditional patterns had evocative names such as Flight of the Swallows or Knees of the Tortoise, Ian Michler writers in The Insider’s Guide to Botswana. The baskets are world class but quite hard to find in Chobe; ask your lodge for advice.