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Elephant at the Chobe River

Elephant at the Chobe River

Year: 2011, Month: May

Botswana > Chobe > Kasane

The Chobe River near Kasane provides a welcome source of water in an otherwise dry and parched savanna area along the border country of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is thus a popular place to be for most of the mammals of southern Africa, and many species can be found here. The national park at Chobe is a popular place for visitors, and one of the big attractions are the large numbers of elephants that can be seen and photographed here.

The Chobe National Park covers some 11,000 sq km, and is home to Botswanna's most varied wildlife. Much of this can be seen from the river, and it is quite easy to organise a floating visit to observe the large numbers of hippo, crocodiles, antelope, and elephants. The elephants are frequent visitors to the river banks, as they come to drink or bathe in the water, and quite large herds can often be seen.

Small groups of elephants may make their way across sections of the river to the numerous islands where grazing may be better than on the main banks. It is fascinating to watch how the elephants make this journey, often completely under water, holding their trunks above the water to act as snorkel tubes, like so many submarines. In shallower water the elephants keep in a line, holding trunk to tail, and the baby elephants are especially well taken care of whilst crossing, with larger elephants holding on tightly with trunk or leg to avoid the smaller ones being swept away by the river's current or dragged off by the ever watchful crocodiles.

The Chobe River runs mainly north-south in this area on the edges of the national park, and if you are lucky, some of the elephants may cross from their normal location of the eastern side over to the west bank, where there will then be some superb opportunities for elephant sunset silhouette photography. Wherever they happen to be, the photographer will find some superb photographic possibilities, so don't forget that big lens and tripod.

Away from the river, a visit and game drive in the national park is also not to be missed. An early morning trip with a good driver will reveal most of the important animals of Africa, though not rhinos. In my recent visits, I have seen hunting groups of lions, some superb leopards with kill, a lot of hippos, elephants within feet of the vehicle, packs of baboons, and much, much more. Chobe is one of my favourite national parks in Africa, and definitely not to be missed.

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