Your Bush Break Travel Guide – When to Visit

By Carly Baatjes

 A safari can be enjoyed year-round – but what to see when? No matter what experience you’re after, you can find it in the Chobe, just a hop, skip, and jump over the border

With winter just a few months away, now is the ideal time for safari lovers to start planning their 2024 bush break. And for those looking to avoid the typical game reserve getaway, the Chobe River region offers a spectacular year-round alternative.

This unique corner of Africa, where the Chobe River forms a natural northern border between Botswana’s Chobe National Park and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, promises adventure beyond just the classic 4x4 game drives. Here, safaris take place on the water with intimate river cruises that provide front-row seats to wildlife without disturbing their natural behaviour. Elephant herds (more than you can count), fish eagles, hippos, crocs, tiger fish, and over 450 unique and rare birds are just some of the incredible species found in this water-based ecosystem.

The Chobe River region also provides diverse safari experiences to match each traveller's interests. From tiger fishing to birdwatching in the lush ‘green season’ to classic game viewing as animals cluster around the riverbanks in the dry winter months, there's something for everyone whenever you visit.

Kate Powell, General Manager, Sales and Marketing at Zambezi Queen Collection, which sails the flagship Zambezi Queen and three Chobe Princesses on the Chobe River, explains: "The Chobe offers spectacular safaris at any time, with unique wildlife and birdlife sightings in every season. Whether you prioritise fishing, birdwatching, or game viewing, visitors will discover special moments whenever they travel."

So as you plan your 2024 escape to the bush, read the below to discover the best times to book your perfect Chobe River safari experience.

Chobe River - cabin with balcony view of elephants
Photo supplied

Fishing: Catch a big one April to November

For anglers who prioritise fishing over game viewing, the prime fishing season on the Chobe runs from April to November. For tiger fishing in particular, however, the most popular season runs from April to August, although tiger fish can be caught year-round (it’s just the techniques that differ). 

Serious fisherfolk and fishing-loving families and groups should book into lodges like the Ichingo Chobe River Lodge between June and August to target tiger fish, or October–November for catfish and other species (all fishing is catch and release). With experts guiding the way, even novice casters can reel in impressive catches. 

Wildlife: Get your game on April to October

For those focused on prolific game viewing, the dry winter months between April and October provide prime conditions when wildlife congregates along the Chobe River. As inland watering holes dissipate, animals rely on the river to quench their thirst, staying close to the waterways.

During a river cruise, you may spot massive herds of elephants wading through shimmering water, witness great buffalo herds gathering at the lip of the water, and even observe crocodiles stealthily slicing through pools. Hundreds of hippos also wallow in the river with just their nostrils poking out.

And that's just the mammals. The diversity of wildlife visible in just a short boat trip is simply staggering.

Board the luxury floating hotel, the regal Zambezi Queen, which serves as the ultimate viewing platform, allowing you to drift within mere feet of the local animal inhabitants going about their natural day-to-day activities, undisturbed by human presence. Come sunset, toast the incredible sights over cocktails. The abundant game viewing promises unforgettable memories no matter how many times you may have been on safari before.

Birding: Flock together September to March

The Chobe River ecosystem provides critical habitat for over 450 recorded bird species. On the Chobe River, dazzling kingfishers may dart ahead fishing and elegant fish eagles circle and swoop with their haunting cry.

While Chobe is a fantastic year-round destination with an impressive resident population, the region’s feathered inhabitants swell with the arrival of the migrants in September – boosting the bird population by up to 20%.

The flagship Zambezi Queen, the smaller Chobe Princesses and Ichingo Chobe River Lodge offer a uniquely different perspective when it comes to birding – with water safaris that allow you to get close to birds on a quiet tender boat.

“For guests, it’s a really special experience with exceptional sighting opportunities,” says Powell. “For example, the nocturnal white-backed night heron is a shy and secretive resident, often hiding in the Chobe’s reedbeds and vegetation. But guests on a dawn or twilight excursion might just be lucky enough to spot one.”

Birding - Chobe River
Photo supplied

Green season: Go green November to March

While April–October makes for superb safaris, the Chobe provides year-round wildlife sightings during the lush ‘green season’ from November to March. As the first rains fall, the entire landscape transforms to emerald hues. Migratory birds arrive by the thousand to enjoy the bounty and baby animals take their first tentative steps, creating tons of cute photo ops.

In addition to the adorable baby impala, elephant calves, and more, the ‘green season’ provides a front-row seat to the circle of life. Predators seek vulnerable prey, while herds protect their young. For avid birders, the green season promises numerous lifers unattainable at any other time.

While wildlife abounds, lodges and cruises offer substantial savings during the ‘green season’ due to lower visitor numbers. For the most immersive experience filled with new life and appealing rates, November to March makes for a spectacular safari getaway. Plus, what could be better than a festive season break in the bush! 

Zambezi Queen
Photo supplied

When to book

Keep in mind things like booking lead times, school holidays, Christmas break, and the various seasons, as these will all influence rates and availability.

Book your trip early to get the best experience no matter the season.

"Booking early is good practice with any travel but especially on the Chobe River,” says Powell. "Guarantee your first choice of available dates, cabins, and flights by booking ahead of time. For this area, you can book from three to 12 months in advance, but for the houseboats, book at least six months to a year ahead if possible, although if you’re lucky, you can get last-minute cabins available from time to time.”

Whether a fishing fanatic, avid birder, or wildlife lover, the Chobe River provides spectacular safaris whenever you visit. 

No comments

Powered by Blogger.