Chobe National Park - Home to Africa's Largest Elephant Population.
Chobe National Park, located in northern Botswana, is named after the Chobe River. The Chobe River is a tributary of the Zambezi River and forms the boundary between Botswana and Namibia. The river begins in the highlands of Angola and flows southeast through the Caprivi Strip of Namibia and into Botswana. Upon entering Botswana it's called the Kwando River, then the Linyanti, and finally the Chobe as it approached the Zambezi.
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The park itself encompasses an area of over 4000 square miles and in combination with surrounding forest reserves provides a major sanctuary for northern Botswana's wildlife. Chobe is one of Botswana's most diverse parks and protects a rich variety of habitats including teak, mahogany, and mopane forests, wetlands, flood plains, grasslands, savannahs and thorny bush. These habitats support vast herds of game including the largest elephant herds in Africa.
Serondella and Ihaha, located along the Chobe River front, are the most visited sections of the park. Here the river slowly meanders toward the Zambezi and marks the border between Botswana and Namibia. The river has created a landscape of vast, open floodplains that remain green throughout the year. Birds are prolific in this section of the park. The islands and floodplains are home to numerous storks, egrets, herons, cormorants, ducks, and geese. Kingfishers, bee-eaters, and hammerkops are abundant as are African Fish Eagles and many raptors. Water loving antelopes like the red lechwe, waterbuck, and reedbuck can be seen grazing on the lush floodplains. It's possible to see herds of sable antelope visiting the river. Large numbers of hippos live in the river and crocodiles can be spotted basking in the sun.
However, the Chobe River is famous for its large herds of elephant and buffalo. Near the end of the dry season the river provides the only permanent water source and so attracts enormous numbers of animals. Thousands of zebra, impala, and buffalo migrate to the river for water and grazing. Breeding herds of elephants visit the river to drink and bathe. Seeing an elephant family come to drink at the river's edge while a red sun slowly descends to the horizon is a sight that will last a lifetime.
The Savuti region lies in the arid south-west section of the park. The main attraction is the Savuti Marsh which sits in the Mababe Depression. The marsh is the remains of an ancient lake whose water source was cut off by tectonic activity. The marsh is now fed by the erratically flowing Savuti Channel whose source is the Linyanti Swamps. For unknown reasons the Savuti Channel cycles between periods when it's in full flood and periods when it's dry. The channel last dried up in 1982 but has been running into the marsh in recent years. The Savuti Marsh lies in the middle of dry bush so it attracts large quantities of game when wet.
Savuti has a much different feel than the other sections of the park. Bushman rock art can be seen in the Gubatsaa Hills surrounding the Savuti region. Long sand ridges, remnants of the ancient lake, provide elevation in the otherwise flat landscape. The green landscape of the marsh is dotted with skeletons of trees that died when the marsh dried.
Savuti is famous for it's groups of old bull elephants, abundant lions, leopard, and wild dog. Some lion prides are large enough that they hunt elephants. Hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and warthog are common. A number of larger birds inhabit the plains around Savuti, including various bustards and ostriches.