They say that nature’s great works of art are illustrated by the seasons, and this is especially true for the wild places of Africa.

Chobe River in the dry season

Chobe River in the dry season

I had the privilege of staying at the amazing Ngoma Safari Lodge on the Botswana side of the Chobe River in October, and I was completely overwhelmed by how many animals I saw on the floodplains at that time of year. The landscape was dry and the only source of water for a long way was the thin sliver of river that makes up the Chobe National Park’s northern border.

Entire collections of elephant congregated around the river, feeding off the green vegetation found closer to the water. In all my travels in Africa, I’d never seen so many elephants in one place. Zebra, impala, waterbuck, wildebeest and many other plains game species were in abundance, and so too were their predators. A leopard had been spotted the night before and two prides of lions were seen on the main track along the river that day.

Indeed, the dryer months between July and October are high tourist months because of the abundance of big game. But the wet season has is own magical charm. I’d visited the area in March and it was like a different world. There was water everywhere and the river looked more like a vast wetland wilderness than a continuous flowing channel. The feeling you get from being surrounded by such an abundance of water is incredibly fulfilling: The landscape sings with happiness, the wetland birds, although more spread out, seem at home in this watery paradise.

Another world – eles swim across the lush Chobe River.

Another world – eles swim across the lush Chobe River.

This leads us to the inevitable question: should you rather visit the Chobe in the wet season or the dry season? The short answer is both. It’s such a unique experience at both times that I’d hate to miss out on a chance to see either. The choice will inevitably come down to personal opinion and what you want out of the trip. Perhaps if you have never been to Africa, and this is your only opportunity to see wild animals in their natural surroundings, the dry winter months will ensure higher densities of wildlife.

But if you are less concerned with seeing animals, and more interested in experiencing the river in all its wet splendour (with less people around to share it) then I’d highly recommend going between January and April.

Either way, the Chobe is one of the most magnificent rivers in the world, so whatever time you happen to be travelling, make sure it’s on the list.

From :

By : Paul Steyn

About Paul Steyn:
Paul Steyn loves telling stories about Africa and its wild places. After safari guiding for some years, Paul worked as an editor for a prominent travel magazine. He now spends his time writing about and photographic the beautiful places he encounters.