March 19

Why You Should Combine Chobe and Makgadikgadi On Your Next Botswana Safari


March 19, 2024

If you've been captivated by the allure of Botswana safaris, you're likely already considering your next adventure. While Botswana is renowned for its Okavango Delta, if you revel in the quirky and unconventional, there's a unique combination worth exploring: Chobe National Park and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. At first glance, it might seem an odd pairing, but there's a method to this seeming madness. Just as Aristotle noted, there's often a fine line between madness and genius. Luckily for me, I work with African Travel Experts who are more than happy to answer my questions. Two such experts, Janine and Danielle, gave me their insights into why these two destinations are a must when visiting Botswana!

A birds eye view of the Chobe National Park!

A spectacular bird's-eye view of the Chobe National Park

Why Chobe?

So why Chobe National Park specifically? In that, our Travel Experts agreed: the elephants! Danielle shared her thrilling encounter of seeing elephants in Chobe. 

"There are elephants everywhere! A family of elephants was crossing the river, and there was a small baby. It was quite interesting to see how they crossed the water, as they actually went underwater, and it was really deep, too! You can't even see them for a couple of minutes." – Danielle. 

We both pondered how exactly the baby was able to manage that. Naturally, there was only one solution we had – to google it! The short answer is that they're uniquely adapted for crossing water, being able to float and using their trunk as a snorkel when walking along the riverbed. Who knew?

"Never have I seen so many elephants congregate in a single area, and I'll never forget driving up to an open pan where there must have been over 500 elephants making their way towards the Chobe River." – Janine.
Elephants crossing the Chobe River

It's amazing to see elephants crossing the Chobe River, Image Credit: Chobe Game Lodge

But Chobe isn't a one-hit wonder, with both of our experts having had incredible encounters with various other wildlife. Janine also emphasised the unique experience of a boat safari along the Chobe River.

"It's very unique to be able to watch animals from the perspective of a boat and be able to cruise up close to them drinking from the riverbanks while remaining silent." – Janine.

So Chobe has much to offer experienced and new safari-goers alike!

Couple on a private sundowner boat trip with snacks

Get to see Chobe from a whole new perspective on boat safari, Image Credit: Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero

Where to Stay in Chobe National Park

So now that I've established the why of coming to Chobe, that simply leaves the question of where to stay! Here are our experts' recommendations:  

Why Makgadigadi?

So then, what makes Makgadikgadi special? Janine described the experience vividly.

"The Makgadikgadi is such a contrast to Chobe, and when we stepped onto the pans, it felt like stepping onto the moon! We were lucky enough to take quad bikes into the middle of the pans, which seemed to go on forever and ever. It was one of the most surreal experiences to feel like we were on another planet." – Janine.
Cheetah on central kalahari plains in Botswana

Seeing a cheetah in action is an awe-inspiring sight!

When it came to game viewing, Janine said you should prepared to be surprised, just as she was.

"When we were here, we saw four cheetahs stalking prey and were able to spend a lot of time with them because we were the only vehicle!" – Janine.

Danielle, on the other hand, having experienced a meerkat tour, exclaimed that she loved it!

"You've got to get up at the crack of dawn and go out to where they burrow. You sit there with a cup of coffee just watching them." – Danielle. 

Another one added the bucket list, a list which is only growing the more I get to learn from my fellow African travel enthusiasts.

Meerkats with Jacks Camp in Botswana

Imagine sitting with a cup of coffee and watching these little guys go about their day, Image Credit: Jacks Camp

But much like Chobe, Makgadikgadi has a lot of amazing experiences to offer, and Janine had many suggestions to share with me.

"You can set out on foot with a guide and get a feel for this land from a different perspective, and you can choose to walk with the ancient Bushmen, too. Game drives can really surprise you as you see how the landscape changes from being closer to the pans to deeper into the savannah. If you can, quad biking along the pans is a must, as is horse riding!" – Janine.
Horse riding across the dry pans

It really is an otherworldly experience to see the Salt Pans while galloping on a horse, Image Credit: Jacks Camp

Where to Stay in the Makgadikgadi Pans

Here are a few suggestions on where to stay in the Makgadikgadi Pans while on your adventure!

Why The Quirky Combination?

So why both together? Danielle put it best when she said that all the different regions in Botswana just offer such a diverse experience.

Variety is the spice of life, so why not add that philosophy to your African travels? With Chobe, you get the best of both worlds, having land and water-based experiences and, of course, the elephants! 

As a side note, after these interviews, I've added seeing an elephant use their trunk as a snorkel to my personal bucket list. But back to the main point. With Makgadikgadi, you get to experience what it would be like to be on the moon, all without ever having to leave our planet. 

So, choose your own adventure. Get in touch with our Travel Experts, and let's start planning your dream African safari today! 

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About the author 

Xinay De Vries

Born and raised in South Africa, Xinay is no stranger to all the amazing possibilities Africa has to offer. She's a self-proclaimed bookworm and coffee addict with a yen for bubbles and rosé, so you'll often find her exploring the streets of Cape Town looking for the best cup of coffee or glass of wine. With a passion for travel and her home country, she's determined to get others to love Africa as much as she does!

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