Ichobezi Safari boats

I was looking for something different at the end of our Namibia trip, and there is something very different about cruising on the Chobe River, along the banks of the Chobe National Park, watching the wildlife and bird life from the Ichobezi Safari boat.

The Safari boat is 18 metres long and gives guests a houseboat experience. The crew that run the boat are experienced and know the region and share their knowledge and enthusiasm with the guests. The boat is not new, nor is it luxurious, but it was very comfortable.

There are four en-suite cabins from which you have excellent visibility to appreciate the changing scenes that unfold as you cruise the waters. With only four guest cabins per boat a maximum of 8 guests are taken at a time: it is never crowded. On the two nights we were on it there were not many others. Our cabin was the front facing one and had a small terrace outside. The boats also have a entertainment area including a deck with a lounge, a bar, the dining area and a plunge pool with sunning deck. A staircase links the entertainment deck to the upper helm station.

We had to drop our rental car in Kasane, so it was a bit convoluted leaving Namibia, crossing into Botswana, driving for an hour, then leaving Botswana by crossing the river in a small boat and re-entering Namibia at a somewhat "rural" border point, before continuing our trip by speedboat to the Houseboat. Impalila Island, where we cleared Namibian Immigration, is at the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers lies, where four African countries, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, meet.

Once on the Houseboat you can get comfortable. The cabin was not large, but this was a small boat, and it was a very nice cabin. Meals are taken at one big table, so you meet the other guests. The food is good, without being gourmet. The drinks are all included in your daily rate.

Included also are all trips in the small speed boats. You only have to ask, and they will whisk you along the river banks to spot game. We had a couple of excursions this way, and were lucky enough to find 2 leopards right on the bank only a few yards away from us. Elephants, Hippos and Buffalo in particular are abundant, as are smaller game. We picked the boat up at Impalila Island, chugged up to the left hand side of the map above, moored for the night. Next day we drifted back down to Elephant Bay (where it says "Chobe National Park" above) and if you want to see elephants, this will certainly slake your needs. Even the boys saw enough elephants. There are literally hundreds. And on the last morning back to Impalila Island

We did come across a tragedy. At breakfast one morning we saw a small skiff motor by well down in the water. The staff explained it was Zambians who, having spent a season fishing, then drying their catch, were returning to Zambia. Later on we saw a police boat and police divers, and discovered that soon after passing us the skiff had been overwhelmed by waves, and with not enough freeboard, had sank. One of the 4 passengers was drowned, and they were trying to find the body before the crocodiles found it.

I would like to mention Ernest, the man who runs the boat in particular, as well as his team. They run a tight ship, and all is very friendly and relaxed. The bar is on the "help yourself" principle, but if you want anything special, just put your head into the kitchen, and one of the men will get it for you.

We eventually left the houseboat to go to Livingstone, Zambia, which is (with Vic Falls) only a couple of hours travel away - again, from the Houseboat it was out of Namibia, across the river into Botswana, then a 15 minute car ride to check out of Botswana, across by speed boat to Zambia, and about 1 hour in the car to Livingstone.

I certainly recommend the experience, and book yourself at least two nights here on the Houseboat. It is an experience that is different and memorable. And is on top of that a very good way to get close up and personal with game.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to get a larger photo

Getting out of Namibia in the car necessitated a bribe, as Budget had not given us any cross border papers. Then into Botswana, an hour across Chobe National Park. Drop off car, taxi to exit Botswana Immigration, across the river to Namibia Immigration, and finally we got to the houseboat. Time to relax and enjoy it all.
Elephants, you want elephants, we have as many elephants as you might wish to see. We moored opposite Elephant Bay, and watched elephants in comfort.
 
Fair number of buffalo, not my favourite creatures, I suppose because they do not seem to have that much charm. I wouldn't want to meet one on a dark night
Lots of hippos. As the sun went down they went in for mouth opening. It was a challenge to get a shot of one with its mouth open, by the time I focused, it was closed.
An assortment of birds, crocs, lizards, warthogs. With a buffalo carcass appearing, fresh during the night, the vultures were in attendance in large numbers.
The highlight was leopard in the fading light. The sun sets quickly and as the light dimmed, photos became more difficult, but the thrill was there in seeing the pair

After all the excitement over two days, we bade farewell to Ernest and headed out of Namibia, into and out of Botswana, and into Zambia. An hours drive on the Zambian side of the Zambesi took us to Livingstone and the Victoria Falls.

On to Victoria Falls

Namibia Holiday