Many consider Chobe National Park southern Africa’s best big game park, and in terms of elephant viewing, they’re probably right. Only the dry season in Tanzania’s Tarangire National park can vie for what exists in Chobe year round.
Chobe is just over 4,000 sq. miles. Despite Botswana’s long time and continued reputation as being one of the greatest big game hunting countries on earth, much of Chobe was declared off-limits to hunting in 1932, one of the earliest non-hunting declarations in Africa. Admittedly much of this original area was heavily invested by tse-tse — which at the time were carrying deadly Sleeping Sickness — but whatever the reason, Chobe has one of the longer histories of protected wilderness for non-hunting tourism.
The Chobe elephant population is probably the largest surviving continuous elephant population in Africa, and today is estimated at around 120,000. This elephant population has built up steadily from a few thousand since the early 1900s and escaped the massive illegal offtake that decimated other populations in the 1970s and 1980s, and it is very seasonal. The large concentrations disperse with the rains, far and wide, and reassemble in the cold dry season which begins in June.
Chobe is the land mass under the meeting of the five countries of Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zambia & Zimbabwe, at the confluence of the Little Zambezi, Chobe and Linyanti rivers into the single, great Zambezi. In addition to the profuse amount of elephant, it is an excellent place to see kudu, giraffe and buffalo. Game viewing occurs not only in vehicles, but in large and small boats, searching for red lechwe and puku among the beautifully scenic channels and marshes.