Zambezi Queen News

Fall in love with Chobe hook, line and sinker

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They say the two best times for fishing are when it is raining, and when it is not. In Namibia’s dry winter you’re in for a thrilling fishing experience. The shoulder season stretches from April to August. It brings cool nights and warm days with little or no rain. As the inland water sources begin to dry up, animals flock to the river to quench their thirst, so not only is the fishing fantastic, but the game viewing during June and July is incredible. Elephant, zebra, hippos, crocs and buffalo will all make their appearance on the river banks – not to mention a myriad of bird species. But they are not the stars of the show when you’re on a fishing trip.

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Zambezi River

Where to find the best spot for fishing in Chobe

Although there are several lodges in the area where the lazy Chobe River joins the mighty Zambezi before rushing into the Victoria Falls, Ichingo Chobe River Lodge on Impalila Island in Namibia is a prime spot for fishing. The lodge has access to 7km of unfished Chobe River directly below the lodge, and then another 7km of unfished Zambezi River below the rapids downstream – you’ll have virtual exclusivity on this beautiful stretch of river.  No other lodge has access to these teeming waters.

On the Chobe side in particular, this is an area of many small islands and gentle rapids, ideal for drift-fishing and either flyfishing or spin-casting. Turn the corner into the deeper Zambezi and you’ll find that conventional trolling works best until you reach the turbulent waters at the foot of the rapids, a hotspot for tigerfish whether you’re using bait, fly or lure.

What you can catch

The Zambezi is home to the ferocious tigerfish, catfish, African pike, upper Zambezi yellow fish, nembwe, thin-faced, hump back, three spot tilapia, and green and pink bream.

Taming a tiger

If there is one fish that every Zambezi angler wants to catch, it’s the hard fighting tigerfish. Arguably the fiercest fresh water fish, these beauties can grow up to a massive 15kg (33lbs)! Catching one of these sharp-toothed monsters is no easy feat, and only about one in ten tigers hooked are actually landed. Tigerfish are so incredibly acrobatic that they jump and tug and twirl free within seconds – making the chase all the more thrilling.

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Tigerfish

There are three ways to catch a tigerfish: trolling, drifting or spinning. Trolling artificial bait is done with two rods leading out from behind the boat. Drifting a fresh or dead fish works best in murky water, and when the water level is higher, and spinning may be more active, but it’s less efficient. Spin casting artificial bait works best when you target specific areas of the river, like sandbanks or rapids. The tigerfish has a preference for deep, fast flowing channels where they lurk in drop-offs ready to ambush their prey. They hunt in schools of similar sized fish.

You have to have the right equipment if you’re going to tame the tiger. Artificial bait that works well includes Rapala 9 or 11cm Magnum floating lures (for trolling), chrome or copper 45mm, 16g Effzett spoons (for trolling and spin casting), and Rapala 7cm Fat Rap or Shad Rap deep river lures for spin casting. If you’re considering using live bait, try the bulldog.

Catching catfish

The sharptooth catfish, or barbell, can survive almost any water conditions no matter how murky. They eat frogs, insects and fish, and have been seen jumping out of the water to catch birds perched low above the water. They feed mostly at night, and when you hook one you’ll feel a slow, steady pull. In an attempt to free itself, the catfish swims into obstacles or shakes its head vigorously from side to side.

ZQ Collection Zambezi river afternoon fishing

Although it will take lures, spoons and spinners, you’re more likely to catch one using bait on a size 3/0 or 4/0 hook fished on the bottom. Catfish enjoy earthworms, fish fillets, baby birds and chicken livers.

Baiting bream

Green and pink bream are best caught from July to December. Green bream prefer deep, quiet waters, slow flowing channels and floodplain lagoons, while pink bream seek out deep main river channels and sandy bays. Both species will take spinners and lures up to 5cm. Your best bet is red earthworm on a No12 long shank barbed hook, but they will also take Mepps No3 Black Fury soinners or 5cm Rapala Fat Rap deep divers. Both species are vigorous fighters, so you’d better be prepared for a good battle.

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Fishing Safari

The nimble nembwe

Nembwe prefer the cooler water temperatures of the winter months.  It’ll take a worm, but you’re more likely to succeed with artificial bait when trying to catch this predator. Such is its fighting ability that its scientific name is Serranochromis robustus. Trolling and spin casting the shoreline are your best bet. Try a Rapala 5cm Fat Rap deep diver, Rapala 5 or 7cm Shad Rap deep diver, a Cordell 5cm Wally Diver or leadhead jig. They all come highly recommended by seasoned anglers who have successfully battled the nembwe.

Spinnerbaits, copper or chrome Effzette 16 gram spoons, Mepps No4 Black Fury spinners and Blue Fox No3  Vibrax spinners are also readily taken by nembwe.

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Fishing Safari

What to wear and what to bring

  • Light coloured clothing;
  • A sun hat;
  • Sunscreen;
  • Binoculars; and
  • A camera for when you catch a big one!

What not to pack

  • Rods;
  • Lines;
  • Lures;
  • Leaders;
  • Reels; and
  • A fishing buff – land a tigerfish over 5kg (11lbs) and you’ll be awarded the coveted yellow buff of fishing!

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge | Fishing Buffs

Where to stay in Chobe

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is the only place to stay when you’re planning a fishing safari. Besides the 100km of river access (and 14km exclusive prime access), the lodge supplies all your fishing equipment – rods, lines, lures, leaders and reels. Coupled with our highly knowledgeable guides as well as well stocked cooler boxes fishing in Africa will be an experience to remember. The comfortable tented accommodation with en-suite bathrooms and private balconies allow you to unwind completely and to enjoy the sights and sounds of a true African river safari experience. Make your reservation today.

Call Ichingo Chobe River Lodge at +27 21 715 2412, or send an email to enquiry@zqcollection.com.

Luxury River Cruising on the Chobe River

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A river cruise along the Chobe River allows you to completely immerse yourself in the spectacular eco system that makes up the area. As you unwind, and enjoy the luxury of a Zambezi Queen houseboat with the wildlife and bird species performing in their natural habitat, the stage is set for the best birding and wildlife experience you can possibly have.

chobe river cruising

Along the banks of the Chobe River there are around 450 bird species, and 4 of the big 5 that call this area their home. A river cruise is undoubtedly the best way to experience Chobe. Not only is there a spectacular abundance of wildlife, but you will experience some of the most breathtaking sunsets imaginable.

Birding on the Chobe River

The Chobe River is one of the best birding locations in the world. If you’re a birding aficionado, you will most certainly be in paradise, as regular sightings of some beautiful species will keep you entertained for hours. From the colourful Carmine Bee Eater, African Jacana and Pied Kingfisher to the majestic African Fish Eagle, you will be in your element as you try and spot as many of the species in the area of the river banks as possible.

Chobe river cruising

Even the uninitiated bird spotter, will not be able to hold back their admiration for the bird species in the area. Whether you are an expert or not, will certainly be in awe of their beauty.

Photographing Africa at its best

A river cruise on the Chobe will offer spectacular and unique photographic opportunities allowing you to see things from a different perspective and angle. As the fish eagle hunts in the sky, and dives for its prey, or a herd of elephants make their way to the river banks to cool off in the midday sun, the spectacular burnt orange sky at sunset or a pride of lions quenching their thirst, the location truly is perfectly set for some incredible photos.

Chobe River cruising

Wildlife in the Chobe River region

Slowly winding your way along the Chobe River, you have one of the best vantage points for capturing exceptional photos. The hippos that wallow or the lion prides that gather on the shore, the crocodiles that sun themselves on the banks or the buffalo that meander across the plains are all easily visible from the water. This makes a river cruise a great way to capture that special moment that tells the story of the Chobe river.

Chobe River cruising

Chobe River sunsets

We can surely agree that an African sunset is definitely unique and special – every time.  As the golden sun dips below a vast African plain, and sheds its golden light across the Chobe River as if it’s pointing directly at you, you will know that you have reached paradise. An early evening on board the Zambezi Queen is a special time, especially for photographers. It’s when you can capture the wildlife surrounded by spectacular hues of an orange, purple or red sky, and when the lighting becomes perfect for that once in a lifetime photo.

Chobe River cruising

With a river cruise, you are always in the best location for the best wildlife sightings and sunsets. Whether it’s the variety of bird species that live near the river, or the majestic elephants, hippos, and buffalo that go about their business on the banks of the Chobe, you have the best chance to see it all from the comfort and luxury of your Zambezi Queen houseboat.

10 Things you may not know about Chobe National Park

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1. Chobe is Botswana’s first national park

Established in 1967, more than a century after Livingstone visited the area for the first time; Chobe National Park is Botswana’s first national park.

Chobe National Park

2. It is Botswana’s third largest park

At 11,700 square kilometres, it is only the third largest park in Botswana.

3. It has four highly different eco-systems to explore

The unique character of the Chobe National Park is found in its diverse terrain and eco-systems that change dramatically from one region to the next. From floodplains and swamps to woodlands; the Chobe Riverfront, Nogatsaa, Savuti and Linyanti each offer a unique African safari experience.

4. The Savuti Channel mysteriously flows and dries up

One of Africa’s great mysteries is the unpredictable flow of the Savuti Channel which sometimes flows from the Linyati’s into the heart of the Chobe National Park, flooding the Savuti Marsh. Over the last few centuries, the water has appeared and disappeared several times. The earliest record of flowing water was in 1851 when David Livingstone came through Savuti; by 1879 the channel had stopped and the marsh was drying out. The river flowed again from the late 1950s, but dried up again in 1982. Almost 30 years later it started to flow again, and within two years the Savuti Marsh was in flood.

Of course when there is water, animals flock to the area to quench their thirst, but even when the marsh is dry it is a beautiful sight to behold. The grasslands attract large herds of zebra, impala, wildebeest, giraffe, tsessebe, buffalo and elephant as they migrate through the park.

5. Chobe National Park has the highest density of elephants in Africa

Chobe National Park is home to the largest population of elephants in Africa. It is not uncommon to see herds of more than 100 of these gentle giants. And elephants aren’t the only ones who thrive in this African oasis; Chobe is home to 4 of the Big 5. Take an early morning or late afternoon game drive and see if you can spot waterbuck, lechwe, puku, giraffe, kudu, roan and sable, impala, warthog, bushbuck, monkeys, hippo and baboons. Of course where there’s food, there are predators like leopard, hyena, jackals, and large prides of lion on land, and crocodiles in the water.

Elephants at Chobe national park

6. There are an estimated 460 species of birds in Chobe

Chobe National Park is (or should be) on the bucket list of every birding enthusiast, so brush up on your bird calls and be sure to pack your binoculars for some serious birdwatching.

Kingfisher at Chobe National Park

7. Unique land safari and boat safaris in Botswana

While a traditional land safari is a thrilling experience, nothing beats a boat safari. Watching the animals from the water gives you a unique vantage point and seems to make them completely oblivious to your presence. The tranquillity of the water and the privileged access you have to terrain that would otherwise have been inaccessible makes for an unforgettable game viewing experience. Few parks can offer this winning combination of land and river safari.

river safari at Chobe National Park

8. The area has only two seasons: a wet and a dry season

The wet season stretches from around November to March and transforms the landscape into a lush green sanctuary, while the dry season sees large herds of animals congregate on the river banks for a drink. Both seasons have their unique allure; it all just depends on the type of safari you want to take.

9. Botswana currency is the Pula

Pula means rain in Setswana, and because rain is very scarce in Botswana it is considered to be very valuable; a blessing. Currently the exchange rate is around 10.6 BWP to the US Dollar and 1.29 to the Rand.

10. What to bring besides binoculars

Bring insect repellent and all manner of sun protection, including sunscreen, sunglasses, and a decent hat. You’re going to need comfortable walking shoes and a light jacket in case the weather changes. In winter, you’ll need warm clothes (think sub-zero temperatures at night), and in summer it is best to avoid synthetic fabric and anything black to ensure that you keep cool.

Safari at Chobe National Park

The Ultimate 50th Birthday Celebration

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Planning your 50th birthday party? 5 reasons why a river safari is the ultimate birthday party celebration!

Coming up with original ideas for a 50th birthday celebration can be tricky – it seems like it’s all been done before. From the ridiculous dress-ups to the elegant dinners, you’ve probably seen it all. If you are searching for a truly unique and memorable 50th birthday party idea, consider a luxury safari on the majestic Chobe Princess where you’ll be surrounded by your friends and family in one of the most magnificent settings on earth – the Chobe River.

luxury houseboat safari

Here are 5 reasons why we think this will be the most incredible 50th birthday party in history.

#1: The spectacular Chobe River setting

There is no doubt that you will have the most original 50th birthday venue – your very own luxury houseboat (or three) floating along 25km of the Chobe River. The Chobe Princess, your private floating villa, is as graceful as her name suggests. Exquisitely decorated, and designed to give you breathtaking views of the river and the teeming banks, there is no better setting for your 50th birthday party than this.

#2: You deserve to be spoiled on your 50th birthday

With all the catering and housekeeping taken care of, you only have one important task: relax and enjoy the luxurious surroundings and impeccable service. Savour the superb seasonal meals served in the open-air dining area, take a dip in the splash pool, or lounge on the sun deck.

luxury houseboat safari

The spacious lounge and bar on the upper entertainment deck of each Chobe Princess offers a wonderful vantage point from which to drink in the African beauty around you.

#3: The VIP guest list

You can book one or all three Chobe Princesses for your exclusive use, and invite your dearest friends and family to celebrate the momentous occasion with you. Two of the 18-metre Chobe Princesses each have four luxury cabins, and the third has five cabins, each sleeping two people on either a king size bed, or two double beds – whatever you prefer.

The other special guests will simply watch you from the comfort of their own kingdom – the river banks and the water. Hippos and crocodiles, hundreds of thirsty antelope and elephants, and maybe even a hungry lion or two all come down to the water during the dry season (March to November) when the watering holes no longer quench their thirst.

#4: Embrace your wild side

Each Chobe Princess has three tender boats to take you on game viewing, fishing, and birding excursions. Not only is Chobe home to the greatest elephant population on the continent, but you could have front row seats to their river crossing escapades. You’ll also see giraffe, lechwe, zebra, kudu, and the occasional leopard, to name but a few.

Chobe also boasts over 450 bird species – increasing in numbers by nearly 30% in the summer months. Not a birding enthusiast? You may well be after your trip! If you fancy something a little more adventurous, tiger fishing may be just the thing. Imagine catching one of the greatest fighting fish in the world – now that would be the best 50th birthday present ever!

Tiger fishing on the Chobe

#5: A river safari provides the best photo opportunities

Capture all the magical moments of your 50th birthday celebration in the golden light of the setting African sun. A Chobe River safari brings together the perfect conditions for you to photograph wildlife without having to compete for a good vantage point, and in the glorious golden hour. Absolute silence around you, and your unique position in the water, mean that the birds and animals will be seemingly oblivious to your presence.

Photographic safari, Chobe River

Of course you don’t have to wait for your 50th birthday party to enjoy the splendour of the Chobe Princess, but it does offer an excellent excuse!

An Unforgettable African Safari on the Chobe River

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The magnificent Chobe River rises in the Angola highlands and winds its way to the Zambezi River, flanked by forests, floodplains and woodlands. With the highest concentration of African elephants on the continent, and over 450 different bird species you’d better charge your camera and pack your binoculars.

The Chobe R

The life blood of the Botswana and Namibian safari experience

The River forms the northern boundary of the Chobe National Park as well as much of Botswana’s border with Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, and it is an integral part of the Botswana and Namibian safari experience. The area has only two seasons: a wet and a dry season. The wet season stretches from around November to March and transforms the landscape into a lush green sanctuary. During the dry season, when other water sources are scarce, large herds of animals concentrate on the banks of the river for a drink or a cooling splash. Of course this is great news to hungry predators like crocs and lions that are eager to make a quick meal out of a thirsty zebra or antelope.

Elephant herd on Chobe River

The Chobe is a birding paradise. You’ll wake to the sound of the African Fish Eagles as it swoops down to snatch a fish from the water. Watch the graceful African Skimmer leave a perfect wake, or gawk at the strange black Openbills, or Marabou Storks. Even if you’re not a birding enthusiast seeing some of the over 450 bird species and hearing your enthusiastic and well-informed guide talk about the habits and quirks of each Little Bee Eater, you may just be converted!

African Fish Eagle, Chobe River

The gentle giants

Chobe is home to 4 of the big 5: lion, buffalo, leopard, and of course – elephant. It is estimated that there are around 120,000 elephants migrating through the Chobe National Park and surrounding areas – the largest concentration of elephants in the world. It is not uncommon to see herds of over 100 animals grazing on the banks, or to find them crossing the river, or spraying each other playfully in the water. These gentle giants are ever present, and the best way to appreciate them is from the water on a river cruise. It seems that the animals are unperturbed by the boats drifting by – and they go about their daily routine as if you are part of the scenery. It is an incredible way to view them in their natural habitat without disturbing them – and what a photo opportunity!

Elephant, Chobe River

Surprising Africa

The African wild is exactly as enigmatic and surprising as it sounds. One might expect, for example, that, being in one of the most remote locations in the world, the sunset would bring serenity and tranquillity as a million stars light up the sky. But no, Africa comes to life after dark. The hypnotic chorus of insects; the mesmerising sounds of thousands of tiny creatures buzzing, zinging and chattering; the grunt of a nearby herd of elephants grazing, and the gentle lapping of the water will be your lullaby. Concentration of game around the river ensures your days are filled with sensational sightings.

In the lap of luxury

When you think of the Chobe, don’t think dirt and dust, think safari decadence. Luxury tented camping gives you the authentic African safari experience in unsurpassed comfort. Alternatively, stay in a floating boutique hotel, or a private villa on the water, where the scenery is always changing and you become part of the majestic landscape that is Africa.