Discover why the Chobe River & Okavango Delta make the perfect match for water babies
As World Wetlands Day (2 February) spotlights critical aquatic habitats, two of Africa’s most remarkable wetland regions beckon—the wildlife-rich Chobe River and the otherworldly Okavango Delta. These iconic landscapes in northern Botswana and Namibia offer incredibly diverse safari experiences. If you’re looking for a splash of something special in your safari, these two water-filled adventures will quench that wanderlust. Plus, they pair together seamlessly.
With travellers opting for longer holidays all around, choosing to spend more time in a region, it makes sense for visitors to combine the Chobe and Delta for an epic bucket list trip.
The Chobe River
The Chobe River region unfurls as a haven for some of Africa’s densest wildlife populations. Over 120,000 elephants, the largest pachyderm population on the continent, congregate along the waterway, quenching their thirst.
“Imagine cruising down the Chobe River surrounded by herds of elephants bathing as fish eagles cry overhead. Then drifting along the narrow channels to find painted reed frogs and elusive birds,” describes Kate Powell, General Manager for the Zambezi Queen Collection, a member of the Mantis Collection of luxury hotels, eco-lodges, waterways and impact experiences. “It’s nonstop wildlife action.”
Beyond its reputation for elephants and incredible tiger fishing (the river boasts some of the best tiger fishing in Africa), the Chobe also dazzles as a birding destination. Over 450 diverse species (including many ‘lifers’) flourish along its banks and floodplains—from regal fish eagles perched riverside looking for their dinner, to secretive African Finfoot and Saddle-Billed Storks, one of the world’s tallest storks.
Best time to visit the Chobe: Visitors can explore the Chobe year-round – whether it’s incredible fishing, birdwatching or wildlife they are after. For prime game viewing when animals concentrate near water, the dry winter months of June through October are best. April to August are great for fishing although one can enjoy tiger fishing year-round (it’s the techniques that will differ). Birding is best during the spring migration and in the lush green season from September to November. Wherever your interests lie, the Chobe delivers an intimate safari experience with a difference.
Unique Chobe experiences: What truly sets a Chobe River safari apart from other safaris is the river itself. Settle yourself into a stylish houseboat, and instead of jostling around in a bumpy jeep at the crack of dawn, watch the animals come to you. Elephants swim across the river right in front of the boats. The birding and game watching– from smaller tender boats – is fantastic and inobtrusive, making for very rewarding sightings. Dozing off to sleep on the river is also magical, with nothing but the calls of the wild surrounding you.
The Okavango Delta
Contrasting beautifully and just a short flight away from the Chobe, the Okavango Delta’s watery wilderness also teems with life yet in utterly unique ways. Each winter, floodwaters from Angola’s highlands transform 15,000 km2 of Kalahari Desert into a verdant wetland oasis. As the lifeblood of the region, seasonal floods both quench animals’ thirsts during dry months and replenish nutritious grasses to graze. This pulsating cycle allows endangered species like wild dogs, cheetahs, lions and rare antelope to flourish.
Best time to visit the Okavango Delta: The floodwaters peak from July to October – optimal time for wildlife viewing. The ‘Green Season,’ from November to March, is low season but absolutely beautiful – and the perfect time for photographers to visit Botswana.
Unique Delta experiences: A vast inland river delta, Okavango’s maze of lagoons, channels, and islands creates an oasis that brims with wildlife. It’s proper bucket list stuff! From leisurely mokoro trips to guided nature walks tracking wild dogs and prolific birdwatching, the Okavango Delta is a haven for nature lovers. Look for elephants wading through lush wetlands, admire vibrant birdlife, and spot big cats on guided game drives. Stay at a water-based camp for a truly unique safari experience.
The perfect combo
The case for pairing a Chobe River safari with an Okavango Delta escape is compelling for several reasons. From a logistics standpoint, Kasane Airport serves as the gateway between both regions. Many lodges even offer combination itineraries, like the Zambezi Queen Collection’s combo packages, easily combining a stay on one of their houseboats with the Delta. Their expert teams can best advise on the accommodation and options to suit your needs in both regions.
Beyond convenience and savvy financial sense, combining these quintessential waterways maximises wildlife diversity in one bucket list trip.
Africa seduces travellers with its raw wilderness and rich culture. Yet some places captivate deeper than others. In a continent defined by its iconic savannas, the Chobe and Okavango allure as sanctuaries teeming with life yet fragile. Their fates are tied to flood cycles that nourish the lands, fishing traditions passed down generations, and connections between elders and guides preserving tribal wisdom. Visiting these singular wetlands leaves the traveller awestruck while also understanding conservation’s urgency.
So, this World Wetlands Day, celebrate Africa’s ecosystems by planning your Chobe River-Okavango Delta adventure.