When is the best time to visit Chobe National Park in Botswana for safari – The park changes dramatically with the seasons – Making it a year round destination
When is the best time to visit Chobe National Park? – Chobe can be visited throughout the year. Wildlife migrates through the park with the seasons. The riverfront area is best visited in the dry months, from May to October. August to October are the optimum months for wildlife viewing here, but it gets extremely hot at that time. During the wet months, many animals, plains zebras specifically, migrate to the Savute Marsh, while Linyanti is best visited from April onward.
May, June, and July are bone-dry with cold nights but temperatures rise rapidly as the rainy season approaches. August, September, and October offer sensational game viewing but under very hot conditions. If you can handle the heat, this is the best game-viewing time for a Chobe National Park game safari.
The arrival of the rains triggers the dispersal of the game from the Chobe River area but the warm, rainy December to March summer months are the best time to visit Chobe for bird watching, the impala birthing season (great for predators!) and to see the Savute zebra migration. Indeed, many safari experts rate early summer as the best time to go to Savute.
Apart from the huge numbers of elephants, you can also see buffalo, zebra, lion, leopard, hyena and cheetah, and antelope species, with roan and sable, puku, tsessebe, eland, red lechwe, waterbuck, Chobe bushbuck, and of course giraffe, kudu, warthog, wildebeest, and impala. There are also crocodiles and huge pods of hippos in the rivers.
During the dry season, the wildlife can be found congregating around the rivers and other permanent and available water sources, having made their way from the dry interior. The riverfront strip running along the north of the reserve is home to the largest wildlife concentrations in the park. Excellent game viewing can be done either by a vehicle along the river or by boat on a safari cruise on the river.
The Chobe river area is rich in plant life, with mopane woodland, mixed combretum veld, floodplain grassland, bachestegia sandveld, and riverine woodland.
But Don’t Ignore the Green Season
The wet season usually brings rain from November to March, transforming the dry areas into lush, green landscapes. The game starts wandering further afield from the rivers and waterholes, but there is still good game viewing along the water as well as some of the best birding opportunities. The wet season is also when all the animals start having their babies which they have been carrying through the winter, so there are plenty of baby animals to pull at the heartstrings.
The temperature and humidity rise considerably getting as hot as 40 degrees Celsius during the day. The afternoon thunderstorms and cloud bursts can make some of the untarred roads impassable. The heaviest rains usually occur between December and February, sometimes resulting in flooded areas during these times. Bear in mind that Chobe lies in a malarial belt, and mosquitoes are at their most prevalent during this season.
More than 450 species of bird have been recorded at Chobe National Park, between the resident species and the migrants, the wet season is the best time to spot them – bee-eaters, African skimmers, raptors, fish eagles, kingfishers, storks and cranes, wildfowl and waders, pelicans, owls, vultures, gulls and terns, warblers, robins, swallows, swifts and martins, and even the Pel’s fishing owl.