The green season in Chobe is full of hidden gems – with birding at its best, as well as an abundance of very young wildlife, it is a rewarding time to visit the region, says Safari and Guide Services director Clive Millar.
Chobe National Park gets its name from the Chobe River. The Chobe River forms the northern boundary and protects about 11700 square km. Its vegetation varies from lush floodplains to the scorched Savuti marsh. The Park is the third largest conservation area in Botswana. The park covers an enormous area of approximately 10960 km2.What makes the northern part of Chobe unique is the fact that it lies next to the Chobe River for almost 60 km. This allow for excellent game viewing along the Chobe River drive.
Also known as the low season, it stretches from December to April, encompassing the November/December to March peak birding season, where more than 300 species migrate to Chobe from Europe, as well as other parts of Africa and the northern hemisphere, Mr Millar said.
“Among those birds are the carmine bee-eaters and the yellow billed kites, and we have many different waders,” he said. In November/December, after the first rains have fallen warthogs, wildebeest, impala as well as other antelope species, such as tsessebe and lechwe, drop their young ones. Impala lambs gather in creches, forming herds as big as 40 or 50, he said. Predators, such as lion and wild dog, are more active with the plethora of young, vulnerable wildlife around, so visitors can witness some dramatic scenes.
“The bush is thick and some people think that limits the game viewing, but I’ve seen some of the best game in February. Just because it’s green season it doesn’t mean it’s very hard to see the wildlife,” Mr Millar said. “It depends on the inland water – if the pans are full, animals don’t have to worry about going great distances, but if you get periods during the rainy season where it’s not raining, for example for seven to ten days, a lot of the animals will go back to the river.” There is often significant movement of game, and this usually enhances sightings.
“The bush changes remarkably – it’s so much more alive. At this time of the year everything is green and bursting with life, colour and energy and the animals are fat and healthy. The colours are brilliant for photography.”
Chobe National Park is open for an extra hour from October 1 to March 31, from 5.30am to 7pm, offering visitors a greater chance of viewing the nocturnal species, such as hyena, honey badgers and springhares, Mr Millar said.
There are also a couple of very practical advantages to visiting Chobe in the green season – accommodation prices are lower, depending on where you are staying, some lodges and hotels offer a considerable reduction, and there are fewer other tourists around.
Some lodges and camps also offer longer stay discounts, such as Ngoma Safari Lodge, part of the Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) hospitality group, where three and four night stays attract a 15 per cent discount, and five or more night stays receive 20 per cent off.
Source: AFRICA ALBIDA TOURISM