Elephants, Crocs, and Hippos (and More Elephants)

I was skeptical about signing up for a day trip to Chobe National Park during my visit to Victoria Falls. Everyone knows that wild animals sleep during the day and the best times to see them are early morning and late afternoon. I was afraid that paying $175 to visit Chobe between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. would be a waste of money.

I was so wrong. I have never seen so many wild animals in my life, especially my favorite wild animal: the elephant.

Elephants drinking

Elephant family.

Chobe has the highest concentration of elephants in Africa. David, our safari guide for the day, told us there are about 100,000 elephants in the park. The Chobe website says there are 70,000. Regardless, it’s a lot.

The other great thing about Chobe National Park is that there is a huge river (the Chobe) running through it. The lodges around the park offer river safaris, during which visitors can view massive concentrations of wildlife at close range.

Heather Michelle hippos

This is not the greatest photo and Michelle is probably mad at me for posting it. But I think it’s hilarious and it shows how close we got to the animals during the river safari. (Photo: David the safari guide)

Here are the logistics of how the trip worked. A taxi driver met us at our guesthouse in Livingstone at 7:30 a.m. and drove us to the Zambia/Botswana border post. We crossed the border by boat and a driver from Chobezi Safaris picked us up on the other side. We were then dropped off at the Chobe Safari Lodge and met up with David, who took us on a three-hour river safari. We had lunch at the Chobe Safari Lodge, relaxed for a bit, then went with David on a three-hour overland safari. David then drove us to the border and we were back in Livingstone by dinnertime.

We saw hundreds of elephants and hippos, dozens of crocodiles, and numerous rare birds and antelope. The time of day hardly mattered. Elephants and hippos are so huge, and so numerous in Chobe, that you’ll see them no matter what time you’re there.

The only drawback is that the mid-day light is a bit harsh for good photography. But that didn’t stop me from taking thousands of pictures. Here are a few of my favorites.

Elephant and bird

We watched this elephant swim across the channel to an island in the middle of the river. At one point there was nothing visible but the very tip of his/her trunk.

Big hippo

Big male hippo. Since we visited Chobe in winter when the water is cold, there were tons of hippos sunbathing on land.

Hippo family

Hippo family.

Hippo yawn

More hippos. One yawning.

Croc water's edge

Croc at water’s edge.

Croc by boat

We scared this guy when our boat got too close. He ran past us into the water.

Croc in water

And off he goes.

stork

Stork.

Eagle

Eagle.

Sable antelope

Sable antelope. I had never seen these antelope before — so beautiful.

Male elephant

This male elephant is on the prowl for ladies. He has what David called “the fifth leg”. Look closely.

Kudu

Male kudu with pretty antlers.

Impala fight

Brawling impala.

Two elephants

More elephants. We saw massive herds of them on the land portion of our safari.

mongeese

Pack of banded mongooses (mongeese?).

Elephant crossing

At this point we had seen so many elephants. Even I was over them and ready to go home.

David and German2

David bids us goodbye at the Botswana border, along with an adorable elderly German man who was on the safari with us all day. We never got his name — he didn’t speak a word of English.

My series of Zambia/Botswana/Zimbabwe posts is now over. I hope you enjoyed it. Back to Jozi in my next post.

Elephant group

One more shot of the elephants. The end.

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19 Comments

  • Reply margottrommelmans July 4, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Beautiful pictures! Thanks for taking us with you on your day trip to Chobe National Park.

  • Reply Robyn July 4, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Wonderful to see an abundance of happy elephants! Check out the ‘bloody ivory’ website to see how elephant populations are declining so rapidly due to poaching and theever increasing demand for ivory.

    • Reply 2summers July 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      I actually get the feeling that Chobe is overpopulated with elephants…The vegetation really seems to be suffering. But the government has made the decision not to cull and let the situation resolve itself naturally, which is great.

  • Reply roetsuprooted July 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Awesome pics! I love the elephant in the river. And the mongooses. And I love hippos – they are some of my favorites. Oh, and the kudu – they have such pretty ears. 🙂

    • Reply 2summers July 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks Mia, you’re right about the kudu’s ears! Never noticed.

  • Reply margottrommelmans July 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Reblogged this on margottrommelmans and commented:
    Thank you for the day trip to Chobe National Park.. beautiful pictures

  • Reply Cynthia Simpson - HapiDayz Travel Blog July 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I did this day trip and had also wondered whether it would be worth the expense especially as I live in South Africa and do get to go to game parks and see lots of game – it was one of the best game experiences I have ever had, the ellies swimming across the river with their trunks just peaking out of the water were the best. Its a MUST if you visiting the Vic Falls

    • Reply 2summers July 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      Yes, I felt exactly the same. I also thought it was one of the best game-viewing experiences I’ve ever had (and I’ve had quite a lot).

  • Reply Rebecca July 7, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Freaking amazing!! I’m glad it surpassed your expectations.

  • Reply pensamosquenoespoco July 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Reblogueó esto en Mujeres hombres y paisajes en el sexo y las palabrasy comentado:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  • Reply pensamosquenoespoco July 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    gracias, absolutamente bello, las fotos, el texto, desde America del Sur, gracias de nuevo, carolina

    • Reply 2summers July 23, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Thank you, and thanks for the reblogs!

  • Reply jucagambarotta July 24, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Hi 2 summers. Actualy, the up to 128.000 elephants live or used to live till few years ago in all the northern part of Botswana. The 70.000 that the web site mentioned is the population of the dry season visiting the park. I was interested in Chobe after a Nat. Geographic article mentioning the (at the moment) only record of lions killing elephants. In 2007 visited the park and was astonished by its wildlife. Is was like visiting Africa before the ivory trade three hundred years ago. A kiss from Uruguay.

    • Reply 2summers July 25, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks so much for explaining that — makes sense. I remember our guide saying something about how many of the elephants had been relocated from the north. Thanks for the comment!

  • Reply Faniso June 18, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Nice blog. I love the way you write. I live in Victoria Falls and I have experienced some of what you spoke about, but I really enjoyed just reading through, especially your Vic Falls do’s and don’ts (both editions). Well done, and I hope you will come back soon.

    • Reply 2summers June 20, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks so much Faniso. I’d love to come back to Vic Falls, especially the Zim side. Hopefully soon 🙂

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