I actually had a great internal debate about whether to do this – not from the fundamental value of visiting Chobe National Park, but mostly because I was trying to stick to a budget of 100 USD/week, and this was going to blow through my weekly budget. In the end, I decided to visit Chobe National Park, and it was worth it. Also, because I was lazy, I did not do it in a cost-effective manner. However, if you choose to do it in a more cost-effective manner, here are some details on how to do it.
Cheap Ways of Visiting Chobe National Park from Livingstone, Zambia
- Absolute Cheapest Way to Visit Chobe National Park from Livingstone
You take a shared taxi from Livingstone to Kazungula, take the ferry across, and take a taxi to Kasane, and return to Livingstone the same way (plenty of taxis at the border). This method should cost ~$10 round trip.
Booking directly with Botswana operators will net the best prices. For instance, a standard 3 hr river safari and 3 hr game drive can be had from 60 – 100 USD. Here are some operators Big Sam Hubber and Chobe National Park
Total price: 70 USD – 110 USD
- Not absolute cheapest, but one of the cheaper tours leaving from Livingstone
Book through Jollyboys Hostel or Fawlty Towers
Total price: 156 USD
- My lazy, lame way of booking
Booked from the hotel, hassle-free, pick up, drop off from hotel. The actual operator was Shearwaters, which priced the tour at 170 USD, but yeah, I did it last minute, and the phone call from the hotel’s tour agency cost me $15.
Total price: 185 USD
Chobe National Park
0900 – 1230: River Safari
1230 – 1330: Lunch
1330 – 1630: Game drive
Mine was operated by Chobezi, which is quite a large operator. They launch their river safari from Chobe River Lodge. The river safari itself was not too bad – we saw elephants, crocodiles, rhinoceros, but towards the last hour, I fell asleep from the gentle rocking of the boat. As several operators run very similar tours, expect to see several boats all chasing the same few animals in Chobe River. Having said that, watching the elephants go for their daily afternoon swim at around 11 am was the highlight of the trip.
Lunch was a buffet at Chobe River Lodge. Nothing much to report on that – it was filling, and the bathroom at Chobe River Lodge is nice. They served warthog at their carving station.
Given that it was my first game drive, I didn’t know what to expect. We had a great guide, Emmanuel, who explained all that we were seeing on the game drive. We saw a lot of kudu, and I wound up with a newfound appreciation of these beautiful, graceful animals. He pointed out the different types of birds. I felt rather bad when he pointed out a warthog – what I just had for lunch (sorry I ate your mama!). My friend didn’t help when he texted back with this picture.
Yes, I ate Pumbaa.
Our afternoon during the game drive got rather exciting. At one point, a bunch of vehicles gathered at this particular spot. As it turns out, an elephant had died, and a family of lions was feasting on it. It was quite hard to see through the foliage, but we did get a peek of the lions, and heard an occasional low roar. That took up quite a bit of time for the game drive, and by that 3.45 or so, Emmanuel had to turn back to drop us off at the Botswana border. Luckily for us, as he was trying to exit Chobe National Park, the giraffes had migrated to the river as well, so we spotted some 6 giraffes taking a drink by the river.
That concludes my day trip to Chobe National Park from Livingstone, Zambia. I am not sorry that I exceeded my weekly budget – it was worth the money.