Boat safaris on the Chobe:

The skipper slowly edged the boat closer to the shoreline. The baby elephant was having a whale of a time wallowing in the muddy edge of the waters. It squirmed and slipped and slid around, and you could swear you could see the grin all over his face. His mum watched over his antics, occasionally nudging him to keep him in check. She took time to look at us approaching but wasn’t at all concerned.

We left them to it and continued upstream. Crocs occasionally took offence at our presence and slid from the banks to the water, and egrets and other birdlife was beginning to head for the trees as the afternoon drew on to early evening. In an area congested with water hyacinth, an elephant had waded out to enjoy being submerged in the aquatic plants. His back was covered in greenery, and he seemed to be playing a game of hide and seek – by himself. You can only imagine what heaven that must have been after days crossing the parched landscape to get here.

By now the sun was beginning to set. We stopped for sundowner drinks and nibbles (well, you have to don’t you!), and watched as Chobe put on one of its famous ball-of-fire sunsets.

We’re on a boat safari in the middle of Africa, a G&T in hand, elephants all around us, with the backdrop of a dropdead gorgeous sunset. What more could you want for?

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The Chobe River, northern Botswana


This activity is available all year round as the Chobe is a large permanent river. Boat trips tend to be taken either in the morning or in the evening so that you get a sunset cruise. The latter is the more popular option, and therefore the busier time to take a boat trip.

Where to stay for a Chobe boat safari:

You can take a boat safari on the Chobe River from any of the lodges and camps in the Chobe area, and if you are on a mobile safari in this area too. The boats leave from the very east of the park, though Chobe Game Lodge (the only lodge inside the park) has its own launch site further west.

By Amanda Marks, director of Botswana Specialists