Chobe National Park Day Trip: 11 Things to Know

by | Last updated Apr 2, 2024 | Botswana

Over 120,000 ELEPHANTS. That’s right … you read that correctly. Chobe National Park in Botswana is home to the LARGEST surviving elephant population not only in Africa but in the world! With its diverse habitat, Chobe National Park attracts much more than just elephants. Hippos, zebras, giraffes, and even the big cats can be spotted during a game drive in the park. Read on to find out why a Chobe National Park day trip is worth it and how you can make it happen from Victoria Falls.

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01- How to Get to Chobe National Park

A Map of Chobe National Park in Botswana

Map showing proximity of Chobe National Park to Zambia and Zimbabwe

Chobe National Park sits along the Chobe River in Botswana, which is in close proximity to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

Due to its unique location to its neighboring countries, you can see why visiting makes a great day trip from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Zambia.

We used the gorgeous Stanley & Livingstone Boutique Hotel as our base in Zimbabwe to make the day trip.

It will take 75 km (43 miles) or 1.5 hours to get from Victoria Falls Town in Zimbabwe to Chobe National Park. My husband and I were picked up from Victoria Falls Town at 7:30 am, and we arrived at Chobe Marina Lodge (the entrance point to where we started the River Cruise) at 9 am.

We did not stay in Zambia, but from my understanding, it takes about 2 hours to get to Chobe from Livingstone, Zambia.

02- Best Time to Visit Chobe

Bull elephant near Chobe River at Chobe National Park

Bull elephant near Chobe River at Chobe National Park

The dry season runs from May through October. The best game viewing is from August through October for two reasons:

1) During these months, it’s very hot with little to no rainfall (but cool in the mornings). Water dependant animals like elephants and buffalo (and their predators!) love to concentrate along the Chobe River.

2) It’s easier to see the wildlife during this time because the vegetation has begun to thin out.

Another pro to going during this time is little to no rainfall = fewer mosquitoes.

This time is also during the height of the tourist season, so be prepared for more crowds + higher prices.

Hippos playing in the water at Chobe National Park in Botswana

Watching hippos play in the Chobe River during our river cruise 

Crocodile on the Chobe River in Botswana

Watch out for those predators! Crocodile trying to blend in along the Chobe River.

03- Animals You’ll See

My husband and I went in September. It was very hot and dry during our afternoon safari game drive, so there were many animals hanging out by the waterfront.

We saw many elephants, buffalos, hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, and zebras.

We did not see any of the big cats, but a few of the tourists that had gone on the morning safari game drive stated they had witnessed a leopard drag a kill up into a tree.

In hindsight, if given the choice, I would probably do the safari game drive by Jeep in the morning and the river cruise in the afternoon. I really wanted to see one of the big cats, and I think the best time for that chance would be the morning Jeep game drive.

Giraffe doing the splits at Chobe National Park

Giraffes doing the splits 

Closeup of a bull elephant at Chobe National Park

On your river cruise, you get pretty close to these magnificent animals. 

Zebras at Chobe National Park

Zebras grazing at Chobe National Park

Sleeping hippos at Chobe National Park

Trust me, those are not rocks! Watch out for the sleeping hippos

04- How Many Days to Spend at the Park

Ideally, 2 nights/3 days if you have the days to spare.

By spending the night around the Chobe National Park area, you will be there for the prime game viewing times which are the early morning and late afternoon hours. When you do a day trip, you do not start until late morning and then have to leave mid-afternoon to get back to the Victoria Falls area.

Victoria Falls was part of our epic 2 week South Africa itinerary.

We did not have any extra days to spare and could only do a day trip. With that being said, I would definitely still recommend doing a day trip to Chobe National Park because it gives you a taste of what this park has to offer.

05- What Makes This Park Unique

THE COMBINATION OF A RIVER CRUISE + SAFARI JEEP DRIVE

Most safari game drives involve riding along in a jeep for a morning or afternoon game drive.

What makes a day trip to Chobe National Park unlike any other safari drive is you experience the wildlife from the WATER AND THE LAND.

Our safari experience involved doing a river cruise in the morning and a safari game drive by jeep in the afternoon. It was fun to discover the wildlife by 2 different means of transportation!

Chobe National Park River Cruise on a Double Decker Boat

WATER: River Cruise on Double Decker Boat

Afternoon Safari Jeep Drive in Chobe National Park in Botswana

LAND: Safari Jeep Drive

06- Chobe National Park Day Trip Itinerary

  • 7:30 am: Pick up from Victoria Falls Town in Zimbabwe
  • 9 am: Arrive at Chobe Marina Lodge (entrance point where we started the River Cruise)
  • 9:30-12:30 pm: 3 hour River cruise along the Chobe River from a 2-decker boat
  • 12:30-1:30 pm: Buffet lunch at Chobe Marina Lodge (standard buffet food was so-so)
  • 1:30 pm- 4:30 pm: Afternoon safari game drive (9 people max to a jeep but we lucked out and only had 2 other people with us)
  • By 6:30 pm: Drop off at Victoria Falls Town
Chobe Marina Lodge in Botswana

Chobe Marina Lodge: This is the launch point for the river cruise and also where the buffet lunch is served

07- Malaria Risk

Mosquito

Mosquito

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a malaria risk in Chobe National Park. We went during the dry season when there were fewer mosquitoes, but I still took the malaria pills to minimize my risk. I’m a mosquito magnet, so I wasn’t taking chances.

Your primary care provider or travel clinic can review the best options for malaria prophylaxis for your situation.

Options include Doxycycline, Mefloquine, Tafenoquine, and Malarone.

I usually take Malarone, which is started 1-2 days prior to your trip, all during your trip, and 7 days after your trip. Consult with your doctor on the best choice for you.

08- Best Safari Lodges in Chobe National Park

If you decide to spend the night, the Chobe Game Lodge is the only accommodation located right inside the park itself. This elegant property is fully-Ecotourism certified (it has an electric Safari fleet!) and sits right on the banks of the Chobe River.

Outside of the park, there are several highly-rated safari lodging options including the following:

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01- SAVUTE ELEPHANT LODGE

Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge

Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge

4.5 on TripAdvisor.

Gorgeous 12 luxurious tented rooms!

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02- GHOHA HILLS SAVUTI

Ghoha Hills Savuti

Ghoha Hills Savuti 

5.0 on TripAdvisor.

Some say the Savuti grasslands have the highest concentration of wildlife on the continent.

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03- SANCTUARY CHOBE CHILWERO

Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero

Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero 

5.0 on TripAdvisor.

Beautiful lodge with only 15 suites.

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04- NGOMA SAFARI LODGE

Ngoma Safari Lodge

Ngoma Safari Lodge

5.0 on TripAdvisor.

8 luxury suites with great views over the plains. 

09- What to Bring on a Day Trip

Wearing our safari clothes at Chobe National Park (1)

Wearing our safari clothes at Chobe National Park

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KAZA UNIVISA

You must bring this with you for the tour. You can obtain a Kaza Univisa at the Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe or at Livingstone Airport in Zambia when you land. Cost is $50. It is valid 30 days from entry. It allows you unlimited border crossings between Zambia and Zimbabwe plus day trips to Botswana.

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SUNSCREEN + INSECT REPELLANT

The sun is brutally hot! Strongly advise an SPF 50+ sunscreen with zinc oxide. Love Elta MD UV Clear! The travel clinic I saw before my Africa trip advised insect repellant with 30% DEET. I purchased a small pen-size pump from Amazon.
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WIDE BRIMMED HAT

There is not much shade cover. Wear a hat! I love Coolibar for my sun-protective clothing including cute hats.
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LONG SLEEVED SHIRT AND PANTS

Companies are now starting to produce more and more UPF 40+ shirts. The sun shirt is the new sunscreen that does not sweat or rub off! I purchased a lightweight moisture-wicking shirt from Orvis that you could roll the sleeves up if needed, which saved my skin during the 3-hour safari drive. Plus, it keeps you protected from mosquitoes.

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WATER BOTTLE + SNACKS

Be prepared for an 11-hour day, so bring plenty of water and snacks. I also like to bring portable Gatorade packs to add to water when I’m feeling dehydrated.
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CAMERA

Ideally, take a camera with a telephoto lens. I tried taking some photos with my iPhone, but the photos my husband took with our DSLR camera were far superior.

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CASH

Tips for the tour guides

PACKING HELP: If you want to know more about what to bring on an African safari, check out my articles on the best safari clothing and what 24 items you should pack.

Wearing a safari hat in Chobe National Park Botswana

Wearing a safari hat in Chobe National Park, Botswana

10- How to Book a Day Trip

You can book this tour through your hotel or local reputable companies. I had reached out to the TripAdvisor community, and they recommended Wild Horizons or Shearwater. 

We went through Wild Horizons in Zimbabwe and had a great experience.

Since our visit, Maano Adventures (who has a 5.0 TripAdvisor rating with close to 300 reviews) is also offering the same tour through Get Your Guide.

11- Cost of a Chobe Day Trip

The cost when we went was $178 USD per person. This included transportation to/from your lodging, a guided river cruise, lunch, and then a guided safari jeep drive over the course of an 11-hour day.

Now, the cost is $190 USD per person.

Final Thoughts 

Yes, doing Chobe National Park as a day trip from Victoria Falls makes for a very long day.

However, having the opportunity to do both a river and land safari on the same day at one of the top parks was incredible!

There are many animals to see, which will certainly make your effort worth it!

If you are looking for other exhilarating activities to do from Victoria Falls, do not miss my article on swimming in Devil’s Pool!

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Questions about our Chobe National Park day trip experience? 

Let me know in the comments below!

4 Comments
  1. Migo

    The article is very informative. Thanks

    Reply
    • Nichole

      Happy to hear it was helpful! Chobe National Park is truly spectacular.

      Reply
  2. zidane

    great place to visit, thank you for creating this article

    Reply
    • Nichole

      I completely agree. We only had time to spend a day at Chobe, but I would love to come back for several days to explore all it has to offer.

      Reply

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