The Chobe River is legendary for its concentrations of wildlife, especially elephants... and in particular during the dry season, with animals gathering in their thousands along the river in search of water.
© Dusty elephants, half wet in a dusty landscape
By Leigh Kemp
What many visitors to Chobe miss when they are surrounded by a multitude of wildlife is the raw intimacy of the season
that has caused so many animals to gather. The heat is a constant presence during the day but the trappings of the modern safari ensure protection and comfort from the elements - and an important aspect of the wilderness is missed.Cruise Chobe River on a House Boat
A Time of Blazing Skies
Anywhere in Africa the time before the first rains fall is a time of drama, a time of dust and screams, of blazing skies and a time of torturous expectation, and it is a time when all creatures have to fight for survival. In northern Botswana the time is late October to early November
- a time when the heat is at its most intense.
It is a time when the sun rises in heat, a time when creatures seek out dwindling pockets of shade before the sun has reached mid-morning. It is also a time when the denizens of the wild are at their most vulnerable
, for in their necessity to satisfy their thirst they must gather around water, and among the gatherings are the predators!
The blazing skies of the time fade into horizons
dulled in dust and smoke, and the sun rises and sets in huge red orbs through the murk of the season. Evenings show little respite from the discomfort of the day and all the wilderness creatures can do is wait for the first rains.
A Gathering of the Elephants
Watching a herd of elephants heading to the water through the dry season landscape of Botswana's northern wilderness is one of my most abiding images of Chobe. During the dry season the Chobe River provides a lifeline for Botswana's great elephant herds
and they travel vast distances each day across the desiccated wilderness to and from the permanent waters of the river. It is not unusual to see hundreds of elephants at any one time on the Chobe floodplains, kicking up dust or splashing in the water.
Historically the elephants moved across a wide range, with the Chobe River a mere watering place en route. The range incorporated northern Botswana, the Caprivi Strip of Namibia, south-eastern Angola, south-western Zambia and the eastern reaches of Zimbabwe.
Civil War in Angola and a war of independence in Namibia put the herds in danger with the various armies using them as target practice
and to sell the ivory for weapons. The elephant sought refuge in northern Botswana and the legend of Chobe was born.
With the ending of hostilities the elephants have begun to cross the river to Namibia again, although the Chobe is still the central point for the gathering
of the elephant herds in the dry season - and this is the attraction of Chobe.
Best Safaris in ChobeChobe National park is the premier safari destination for elephant enthusiasts. It is also just a short drive from the majestic Victoria Falls:Elegant Spa and RomanceChobe Houseboat AdventureColonial Comfort right in ChobeSelf Drive Caprivi to Vic FallsElephant Adventure Mobile Safari
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