Chobe National Park on the Chobe River near the town of Kasane in northern Botswana has one of the largest game concentrations on the African continent. It is the third largest in the country and the most diverse. It was Africa's first national park.
It's known as elephant country, thanks to it being home to more than 120,000 of them. The best time to see them is in the dry months between May and October.
When Ben Dark arrived he could only imagine what it would have been like for the 19th-century colonial explorers when they first explored Africa. The 1860s was a golden era for European exploration of the continent.
Unfortunately, slavery was the main export. When it was abolished it continued under the guise of Christianity, commerce and the "great white hunter". Now that's all gone and the area is enjoyed for its people, animals and sheer beauty.
It's been more than 150 years since Dr David Livingstone walked through the area in search of the source of the River Nile. His constant perils are today Chobe's rarest pleasures. He almost lost an arm in a lion attack. An African friend saved him, but he was disabled for the rest of his life.
The Serondela area in the extreme north-east of the park has lush plains and dense teak forests. The Chobe River which flows along the border is a drinking spot for buffalo and elephant in the dry season and beautifully coloured bee-eater birds.
The Savuti Marsh area along the park's western stretch is fed by the erratic Savuti Channel which can dry up for long periods and then flow again. As a result there are hundreds of dead trees along the channel's bank but the region is covered with extensive savannahs and rolling grasslands making wildlife particularly dynamic.
Those on safari will see warthog, kudu, impala, zebra, wildebeest and above all, elephant bullying each other. Rainy times bring rich birdlife to the park around 450 species. Packs of lion, hyena and less often, cheetah, will be seen as well.
In the north-west corner, Linyanti Marsh is adjacent to the Linyanti River. To its west is Selinda Reserve. On the northern bank of Kwando River is Namibia's Mamili National Park. The two rivers have open woodlands, flood plains and lagoons. There are large concentrations of lion, leopard, wild dog, roan and sable antelope, hippopotamus and again, enormous herds of elephant. Birdlife is prevalent and rare red lechwe, sitatunga or crocodile also live there.
Between Linyanti and Savuti marshes, hot, dry hinterland is a great place for eland spotting.
With your own four-wheel drive and hundreds of kilometres of bush track, Chobe is a stunning place to visit. Unlike Dr Livingstone, you don't have to rough it as the Chobe Marina Lodge is there to enjoy, right on the riverbank.
Located in Botswana's north-eastern corner where it is joined by Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia, the lodge is surrounded by the natural beauty of Africa.
It has 60 rooms (studios, apartments, chalets or suites) all with modern comforts. Commissioners à la carte restaurant serves world-class dishes and Mokoros offers local cuisine in a relaxed setting. The pool and riverside bars overlook the Chobe River.
It was also where Ben linked up with Alan Watson who was born and bred in Botswana and knows the Chobe inside out. His fishing expeditions are renowned but there are some formalities. Passports must be stamped every time you leave and re-enter Botswana, but with that out of the way, it was off for a full day of fishing.
With the diversions of spotting wildlife, it was the first time Ben, the avid fisherman, didn't mind that he didn't land anything.
Alan adores Botswana's animals and while we in Australia might grumble about kangaroos, dingoes or possums creating havoc in our gardens, imagine having to shoo elephants away from your guava trees!
As the sun set on Ben's day, he had time to reflect on the hardships explorers like Dr Livingstone must have experienced. Everyone was madly curious about Africa and part of the explorers' jobs was to sketch and write journals for newspapers at home. Ben wondered how someone could possibly describe their first sighting of an elephant.
Next week he will follow Dr Livingstone's footsteps into the jaws of the mighty Zambezi River's Victoria Falls.
Chobe National Park in northwest Botswana near the town of Kasane.
The Africa Safari Co has three-day tours departing from Victoria Falls. They include accommodation at Chobe Marina Lodge, all meals, park entry fees and return transfers. They are $915 per person twin share.
Emirates has flights to Johannesburg.
- Perth $2379
- Adelaide and Melbourne $2482
- Sydney $2501
- Brisbane $2505
Sale and validity dates apply. For the most up-to-date fares, call Emirates or check their website. Connections to Kasane are available.
Prices correct at March 11, 2010.
For further information
Ph: 1300 303 777
The Africa Safari Co
Office 1, Block D, Illawong Shopping Village
273 Fowler Road
Illawong NSW, 2210
Ph: (02) 9541 4199 or 1800 659 279 (toll free)
Fax: (02) 9532 0744
Travellers should be "in date" for the standard Australia and New Zealand immunisation schedules. Depending on the time of year of travel and exact destination, other health precautions and preventions may be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au.
To find out more about the hot deals mentioned on the show, check out Holidays for Sale.