Safaris in Chobe National Park: Winter vs Summer


The seasons in Southern Africa fall almost perfectly opposite to those in Europe. Christmas time is sweltering hot and June and July are our coldest months of the year. Although the winter months between May and October are considered the best time of year to travel on a big game safari, there are upsides to travelling in the off season. We’ve outlined the pros and cons of safaris in Chobe in winter vs. summer below.

Winter Safaris in Chobe National Park

In the Southern African winter months, Chobe National Park comes alive with huge herds of elephant, buffalo, antelope and big predators. As the rains disappear, the bush gets drier, water holes disappear and wildlife flocks to the permanent Chobe River as constant source of sustenance during the tough African winter.

Chobe National Park, the first national park of Botswana, was established in 1968 and covers approximately 11,700 sq/kms, with the Chobe River at its northern boundary. The Chobe wilderness is home to the largest elephant herds in Africa, estimated at about 70 000.

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Perks of visiting at this time of year are the perfectly blue skies, warm days and almost no chance of rainfall. There are also fewer mosquitos in the dry months and a reduced risk of malaria.

The Cons of Visiting Chobe in Winter:

– Even though most people visit during the dry season, the park still feels uncrowded, except for the bustling Chobe riverfront area.
– It gets cold at night and in the mornings – pack warm clothing during June, July and August for morning game viewing activities.
– There are higher rates during this season.

Summer Safaris in Chobe National Park

During the rainy season in Chobe – from November to April – the landscape blossoms in all shades of green and water is abundantly found in waterholes and puddles across the region. Although this means wildlife is less plentiful along the Chobe Riverfront, this is the best time of year for birders to visit as the migrants are present.

The summer rains bring with them the birth of new life among the plains of Botswana, and nearby Zambia and Zimbabwe. Prolific numbers of baby antelope can be spotted on game drives, along with the predators attracted by the easy pickings. During the wet months, animals – the rare Burchell’s zebra specifically – migrate to the Savute Marsh, while Linyanti is best visited from April onward.

The Cons of Visiting Chobe in Summer

– During January and February the rains can continue for days.
– It is very hot and humid before the rains in October and November.
– Some lodges and camps close down during part of the wet season.
– Risk of malaria is higher in the rainy season.

From the diagram below it’s easy to see that in comparison to Botswana’s other parks, there is practically no ‘bad time’ to visit Chobe. When you do decide to visit, depends on your preferences in terms of weather, cost and what your interests are.

The Chobe is one of Africa’s magical rivers and the best way to explore the national park is by boat on the river. In the late afternoon, large herds of elephant and buffalo come to quench their thirst at the river’s edge, and seeing them swim across its channels is a real treat. There are plenty of hippos and crocodiles in the river, and the birdlife is just phenomenal. Predator sightings are more common on a game drive and lion, leopard and wild dog are all present in good numbers.

Cresta Mowana Lodge is located on the border of Chobe National Park on a section of the river renowned for its elephant sightings. Dont hesitate to contact our reservations team for a quote or you can see our rates online here.