My time in Livingstone area of Zambia was very limited but I still wanted to try for a safari. Luckily, Livingstone is near the border with Botswana and trips to Chobe National Park were a popular thing to do. I signed onto a day tour, and it ended up being a great way to introduce myself to the concept of safari…which is essentially spending hours in a vehicle chasing animals, haha. My day trip to Chobe was a boat safari in the morning and a game drive in the afternoon. Read on to see what it was like!


Safari by Boat

Visiting Chobe in early April meant it was the end of the rainy season. Water levels were still high, vegetation still thick; it was both a good and not so good thing. It’s beautiful, the lush landscape, but lush landscapes did mean I was limited on what animals were visible: big animals and birds, basically. I saw several bird species including an osprey, water buffalos, warthogs (Pumba!), elephants and so many hippos.

Ensure you travel with a reputable company and a guide that won’t take risks in helping you get that perfect Instagram photo. I found that our guide was right on the edge. Once, we got very close to an elephant feeding in the water – too close as the big dude at one point started to fixate his gaze on us. Others in the boat insisted we move away, something we shouldn’t have had to do. Another time, we got temporarily stuck in the shallows amid a hippo pod. Knowing these animals are the crankiest on the continent, it was extremely uncomfortable as the guide had to do some fancy maneuvering to get us out of there.

A Game Drive

A game drive is a bumpy drive and can feel repetitive at times; but overall, it was a lot of fun. The thick vegetation was a hindrance, of course, and we saw no big cats. However, we did see tons of elephants, giraffes, and various food items (deer-like creatures). Several highlights on the afternoon game drive were:

  1. A troop of monkeys ran right by our vehicle. My favourite sights were a young one riding his mother’s back like a car and another one clinging on for dear life as he slipped off her back.
  2. Our sharp-eyed driver stopped for a dung beetle doing its thing at the side of the road. We spent a good while just watching; there was a collective groan in the vehicle when the industrious beetle fell over as he tried to get his dung ball over a bump in the grass!
  3. One time in a field, a tower of giraffes and a herd of deer-like creatures were all staring intently in the same direction, indicating a predator near by. But with the thick vegetation, we couldn’t see it. Unfortunate but also fortunate as I’m not sure I really want to watch a kill…

Three Tips to Maximize your Chobe Day Trip

If photography is important to you, bring the best zoom lens you can afford – even though the animals seem close in person (sometimes TOO close), when using your camera, you’ll find them further away than they appear to your eye.

If visiting Chobe interests you, make sure you get the correct visa upon arrival to Zambia – the Kaza visa allows you to spend one day in Botswana. It also allows you to visit Zimbabwe, which is great for seeing the other side of Victoria Falls.

I also recommend not planning anything specific for the evening of your Chobe day trip. You or others in the tour may have border issues which can cause delays. Someone in my group had problems, and it meant we were two hours late returning. While I was still able to do the dinner I’d booked at the Royal Livingstone, I missed the opportunity to watch the sunset from the banks of the river. Ah well.