The Chobe national park can be divided into four distinct eco systems:
The river forms the reserves northern boundary as well as the international boundary with Namibia.
A major feature of Chobe National Park is its elephant population currently estimated at between 35 000 and 55 0000 depending on seasonal movements.
The Chobe elephant make seasonal movements of up to 200 km from the Chobe and Linyanti rivers, where they congregate in the dry season, to the pans in the southeast of the park, to which they move during the rainy season.
This area is famous for having the biggest elephants in the world.
The unmistakable signs that this is elephant territory can be seen when you drive along the Chobe river.
The destruction they cause to vegetation is especially evident in winter months.
Tree destruction by elephants is actually normal behavior. Elephants fell trees to obtain leaves that would be otherwise out of reach.
Knocking over the trees makes the more palatable leaves more accessible.
Although this seems to be a destructive action, it does have the ecological benefits of opening up dense habitats and promoting soil turnover.
Because of tight restrictions on hunting, the Chobe elephants are remarkably tolerant of vehicles and close up viewing is possible.
You can get so close to them that you can hear the deep rumblings as they communicate with each other.
There is many opportunities to see them at waterholes where young bulls often engage pushing contests.
The elephants tend to monopolize the river in winter and they tend to chase the other wildlife away.
From about mid morning you will be able to see some Burchells zebras and roan antelopes moving in to drink when the elephants moved off.
There is a nice waterhole just inside the entrance gate where you can see sables, greater kudus and bushbucks.
Big herds of up to 1500 buffaloes often occupy the riverfront. Leave your camp early to catch them moving into the woodlands where they will spend the day.
Wherever you find buffalos, you know that lions are never far away.
The Chobe riverfront provides you with good opportunities to watch a lion kill.
The dense cover in the area often allows the lions to isolate and hut down their prey.
The often pick out a young buffalo that has been born between January and April but the adult buffaloes are also targeted.
Like lions, hyenas and leopards also hunt at night while cheetahs are diurnal predators.
Large pods of hippos are common in the river.
The boat cruises provide an exhilarating way to view them.
The abundant wildlife and the fact that the Victoria Falls is only about 100 kilometers away means that this area do attract a lot of human traffic and the river can get crowded with people.
It will take you about a day from the Chobe river to get to Savute which is the other major center of activity in the park.
The Savute channel flowed for the first time in about 25 years in 2008.
In 2010 this water reached the Savute marsh, in the process creating a large water source for game in Southern Chobe.
You will find your wildlife watching experience here totally different from the Chobe riverfront.
This area has many natural pans and artificial waterholes that offer superb viewing opportunities.
The water attracts elephant bachelor herds and lone bulls, most of who are placid and very tolerant of vehicles.
Take note that the sandy roads of the savute are easy to negotiate in summer they become marsh roads can become soaked.
This sometimes lead to road closures between December and March.
You should check this with the camp management ahead of time before you travel.
A pride of lions in the Botswana Savuti area have started to specialize in preying on elephants.
While you would think that elephants don’t have natural enemies because of their size, somebody forgot to tell the Savuti lions.
These lions hunt the elephants at night, when the poor night vision of the elephants puts them at a major disadvantage.
It is believed that the Savuti lions have learnt over time to kill bigger prey by virtue of their large pride size.
Lions can at times tackle Cape buffalos weighing up to 1000 kg or hippos who weigh in at between 1500 and 3500 kg.
Researchers believe that, after learning to successful kill hippos, the Savuti lions became confident enough to begin regular predation on juvenile elephants.
They are currently successfully hunting adult elephants and that they killed on average one elephant every three days.
This is the part of the year when the zebras and other plains game have migrated out of the lion territory.
In the Linyanti area of Botswana there is also a pride that specializes in hunting hippo.
The question researchers are trying to answer is whether this behavior is learned or acquired from memories from a previous experience.
Wildlife watching tip: the Ngwezumba region provides some escape from the crowds
The Chobe region in the park can get very crowded, so if you are looking for a more quite spot away from the crowds you should explore the Ngwezumba region.
It is located between Savute and Chobe and has undergone very little development. The big commercial tour operators mostly ignore this area.
The two camp sites of Nogatsaa and Tchinga allows you to watch excellent sights of elephants, buffaloes and lions literally from your tent.
The Linyanti River forms a natural border between Namibia and Botswana.
The river course makes a sharp turn from southeast to northeast.
In the benda swamp has formed on the Namibian side that is very similar in appearance to the Okavango Delta.
On the southern banks of the Linyanti River the marsh subsides into lagoons and steadily flowing rivers with riverine forests.
Papyrus reeds, jackal berry and sausage trees leading to open savanna grasslands sets the scene for an area that is particularly rich in birdlife.
The birdlife is diverse, with plenty opportunities to see pelicans, egrets, herons and African skimmers.
The wildlife is plentiful, especially in the late dry winter months of September to October.
This is when big concentrations of elephant and buffaloes return from Savute to congregate along the river.
Thousands of Burchells zebra spend the winter in the Linyanti before heading south to the Savuti in November in expectation of summer rains.
You can expect to see sable and roan antelopes here while red lechwe antelope roam the wetlands.
Aside from the many lions you also have a reasonable chance of seeing leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs and hyenas.
This area is also rich in smaller carnivores like servals and Selous mongooses..
Note that the access roads are very sandy and the safari camps in Linyanti can only be reached by light aircraft.
Mosquitoes are prevalent throughout the park so visitors are strongly advised to take anti-malarial precautions.