Five remarkable sightings you won’t believe you can experience from Africa’s rivers!
Ready to discover these tales for yourself? Consider a river safari with the Zambezi Queen Collection as your destination.
The Chobe national park. Picture: Supplied
The African continent possesses a heartbeat, a rhythmic pulse that echoes through its mountains, plains, and rivers.
It’s on these rivers that some of the most astonishing wildlife experiences take place. While the vast savannahs are renowned for classic safaris, the stories of Africa’s riverbanks often go unnoticed.
Watering Hole Wonders
Under the blazing African sun, the Chobe River and its banks transform into a natural spectacle. Picture lions cautiously approaching, wildebeest, zebra, and giraffe delicately sipping, and majestic elephants displaying their grandeur by showering and swimming.
Chobe River guides recommend Chenku for wildlife sightings, particularly elephants, buffalo, and various antelope species during the drier season — a perfect spot for game-viewing.
“I’ve been working for the Zambezi Queen Collection for approximately 25 years. My most memorable experience took place at Sunset Bay. When we got there, there were five lions attacking one buffalo bull that was very close to the river’s edge. Our clients were very appreciative about that sighting, too!,” said Guide Robert.
He also mentioned that if you have an interest in exploring not just the river’s shores but also what lies above and beneath it, the Zambezi Queen Collection (ZQC), born and bred locally, knows exactly where to take you.
“My favourite spot in the river is the Kasai channel, including the deep water by the harbour,” says Zambezi Queen Collection Guide Nico.
“Birding and fishing is also very good here,” added Guide Robert.
Guide Raphael also identified his top two preferred fishing locations:
“The first spot is the deep water where we troll for tiger fish, and then the second is in the Kasai Channel where we fish using both spinning and trolling,” said Guide Raphael.
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The Gentle Giants’ River Playtime
The Chobe River’s stars are its elephants, boasting the densest population in Africa at more than 120,000. Witness moments of pure joy, from mothers teaching calves to bathe to playful sparring among young tuskers — these heartwarming scenes often steal the spotlight on river voyages.
Kate Powell, General Manager of Marketing, Sales, and Reservations at the Zambezi Queen Collection says, what truly sets their Chobe River safaris apart are the various mooring spots.
“Both the larger Zambezi Queen houseboat and our smaller Chobe Princess boats can moor at Leguva, a secluded docking site that takes you away from the ‘busier’ sections of the Chobe River, to give you unencumbered views of the Chobe National Park’s open plains.
“Our Chobe Princesses, being smaller, can also moor at Elephant Bay, a small island – aptly named! It faces one of the elephants’ favourite drinking sites, rewarding you with sightings of several herds drinking, playing and bathing in the river,” Kate Powell.
Midnight mysteries: Nocturnal River Drama
The secrets of the African night unfold with its unique charm. Following breathtaking sunsets, especially renowned along the Chobe River, the water glistens beneath the moon’s silver light.
This is the time to observe the nocturnal dance between predators and prey. A houseboat, gracefully moving through the serene Chobe waters, provides a prime vantage point for this mesmerising spectacle.
“There’s something unbelievably magical about being on one of our houseboats at night.
“At night, when you’re the only ones on the river, with nothing else but the sounds of the river and the animals, is indescribable,” further stated Powell.
Surprise Shore Visits
Just when you believe the stories of the river are becoming expected, the shores unveil an unexpected twist.
Experiencing a tranquil river scene, only to be surprised by a sudden appearance of a lion or a playful group of monkeys causing a commotion on the shore, creates moments that are both thrilling and heartening. These occurrences connect humanity and nature in ways beyond imagination.
“My most special sighting on the river was a lion killing a buffalo close to the shore at Elephant Bay,” said Guide Success.
Guide Raphael also spoke about his favourite shore moment that also involves lions.
“Sometimes we find them busy killing either one of the animals like buffaloes or impala. Sometimes during sunset at Elephant Bay, there is an area of plain (in Botswana, they call it Kolwezi, which means Big Water, kind of like a backwater) where the elephants, giraffes, buffalos, and sometimes even lions congregate, making for very special sightings,” said Raphael.
Bird-Watching Bonanza from the River’s perspective
Bird lovers, get ready. The Chobe River is a haven for feathered creatures, boasting more than 450 recorded species. The river transforms into a captivating display of birds, from the majestic African Fish Eagles claiming their territory to the lively kingfishers swiftly diving into the water like arrows.
“There’s something about observing birds from the river; it’s intimate, raw, and often, full of surprises.
“Just like the animals, they are much less disturbed by a quiet tender boat floating past, so birdwatchers are always delighted by how many lifers they can tick off their lists,” said Powell.
The Top 10 Chobe River birds visitors will spot include: The White-backed night heron, the Goliath Heron, the Giant Kingfisher, the Southern Carmine Bee Eater, the African Wood Owl, African Skimmer, African Finfoot, Saddle-billed Stork, the African Fish Eagle and Rock Pratincoles.