We were enjoying sundowners in the flood plain of the Chobe River, with a huge herd of elephants drinking on the other side of the river. Although we were in Namibia, they were in Botswana’s Chobe National Park. It was a timeless moment to hold in our hearts forever. Discover Chobe River Camp in Zambezi region, Namibia, and things to do there.
A croc sunned itself next to the river and oxpeckers stabbed for food on cows. The Namibian side is communal land rather than national park and the locals use the flood plain to graze their cattle, which seem to mix happily with the wildlife.
I was admiring some baobab trees in Botswana when we saw about 400 buffalo coming down to the river to drink in a straggly line of dust. A trio of kudu joined in further downstream. It was late May and the river was fairly narrow so all sightings on the Botswana side were quite close. Once the hoped-for rains come again in August to January, the river broadens and the flood plains fill.
We were so enthralled with the magic of the elephants that the sun sank almost unnoticed below the horizon.
Although Chobe River Camp stretches out along the Chobe River just 4km from the Ngoma border post into Botswana, it’s officially in Namibia’s north-eastern Zambezi region, which is a wonderful watery world of rivers that include the Kavango, Kwando, Chobe and Zambezi. It's a refreshing change from Namibia’s desert areas further west and south.
The main area
To welcome you at the entrance to the camp are two almost life-size welded metal hippos. The main area – constructed of mopani poles and canvas – consists of a double-volume reception area, lounge and bar, as well as a dining room where we enjoyed fresh fruit, delicious omelettes and lemon poppy seed muffins for breakfast.
There’s a sheltered pool area with loungers and a view of the river, a shaded deck that juts out over the river, and a bush lapa that is the setting for dinners romantically lit by firelight and paraffin lamps, with blankets thrown over the back of your safari chairs in case you get chilly.
The Meru-style tented rooms are set on stilts with a small veranda outside. Inside is a bedroom with the untraditional colour scheme of lime green and purple, with a dressing area and bathroom behind. An evaporative air cooler cools things down when it’s hot in the middle of the day – even on the cusp of winter when we visited. There’s a small desk and tea station in one corner and an open wardrobe in another. Mosquito nets around the beds will be welcome in summer.
Just a note for those of you who are committed to camping for whatever reason, Chobe River Camp also has a small campsite along the river’s edge. Campers are welcome to use facilities like the pool and restaurant.
1. Go on a Chobe National Park safari
Chobe River Camp is just 4km away from the Ngoma border into Botswana and the Chobe National Park, so it makes an ideal half- or full-day safari. Ask about this at reception, or do it as a self-drive. Some of the animals you can expect to see in this western part of Chobe include big elephant and buffalo herds, giraffe, zebra, sable and other antelope. You may be lucky to see spotted hyena, lion or leopard, and you’ll certainly meet a few of the unusual big baobab trees. (Just make sure you take your passport and have a visa if you need one for Botswana.)
2. Take a day trip to Victoria Falls
3. Enjoy a nature drive on the Namibian side of the Chobe River
4. Hop on a Chobe River cruise
A Chobe River cruise in a motor boat boat is a chance to get a different perspective of the surrounding wildlife from what you get on a game drive. See elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and other big game along the river edges and revel in the birdlife of the area, with African fish-eagle, African jacana, bee-eaters, kingfishers and more. Choose between an early morning cruise or a sundowner cruise to get beautiful views of the sun setting over the river.
5. Go fishing
6. Enjoy a guided canoe trip
Depending on water levels and the presence/absence of hippo in the area at the time when you visit, go with a guide on a canoe trail along the river. Discover a diversity of birdlife and enjoy the gentle rhythm of your oars dipping into the water. The silence of the canoes allows you to get close to birds for great photo opportunities, perhaps even to elephants or buffalos along the shoreline.
7. Go bird-watching
8. Join a guide for a bush walk
If you enjoy walking and getting acquainted with nature at close range, do a guided walking safari when you can learn about the animals, birds and plants of the area, as well as some of the conservation and community issues. Feel the warmth of the sun, smell the dust and hear the trumpeting of elephants or the call of the African fish-eagle.
9. Cool off in the camp’s swimming pool
10. Enjoy dinner in the lapa
11. Spend time on the viewing deck
12. Relax on the deck of your tent
Early morning is an ideal time to sit in a safari chair on the stoep of your tent overlooking the Chobe River to watch the world come to life. Make a mug of coffee and have the world to yourself as you watch sunrise paint the sky in a kaleidoscope of colours, hear birds begin to chirp, perhaps even the roar of a lion. It’s a glorious way to begin a day of immersion in nature.
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