Chobe National Park, which is the second largest national park in Botswana and covers some 11 700 square kilometres, has some of the greatest concentrations of game found on the African continent, not least of which are the 120 000 head of elephant. The Park is surprisingly diverse, as it has the perennial Chobe River as its Northern border, and it touches the Linyanti marshes to the west, is home to the well-known Savute Channel, and connects with the Moremi Wildlife Reserve to the South West.
The idea of a National Park in the Chobe area was first put forward in 1931, and the following year an area of some 24 000 square kilometres was declared a non-hunting zone. By 1933 the area had increased to 31 600 square kilometres. Unfortunately tsetse fly problems caused the park to be shelved, until 1957, when proposal were made again. This time the area proposed was merely 21 000 square kilometres. It was only in 1960 that an even smaller area was gazetted as a Game Reserve. It was only in 1967, that the Reserve was declared a National Park – the first one in the newly independent Botswana. Chobe National Park was enlarged in 1980 and 1987 to its current size.
Chobe is most often associated with its elephant population – which covers much of Northern Botswana, and the north-west of Zimbabwe. The elephant population is migratory, making seasonal moves of up to 200 kilometres from the Chobe and Linyanti Rivers (their dry season home) to the pans in the south east of the Park, where they disperse to in the rainy season. The Chobe elephants are known for their extreme site, although they don’t tend to have large tusks.
In general, game viewing is best in the dry months (generally April to October), although birding is at its height from November to March. Malarial mosquitoes are found throughout the Park, and you are strongly advised to anti-malarial prophylactics before, during and after travel to the area.
There are 4 distinct eco-systems in the Park – Serondela with its lush plains and dense forests in the Chobe River area in the extreme north-east; the Savute Marsh in the west; the Linyanti Marsh in the north-west and the hot dry plains in between.