NEED TO KNOW
Planning your great African adventure? There are a few logistics you’ll need to organise before you leave – like deciding where and when to go, how to get there, and what you’ll need to bring with you. In this section, you’ll find useful information about the Chobe National Park area, as well as facts on visa requirements, transport, weather, what to pack and more. If you have any other questions, send us an email or call us and we’ll help you as best we can.
Located in Northern Botswana, alongside Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, Chobe National Park is the second largest National Park in Botswana with the largest concentration of game on the African continent. The Chobe River, forming the northern boundary of the park, originates in the highlands of Angola. From there, it winds its way into the Zambezi River, which eventually flows into Victoria Falls, through Mozambique and into the Indian Ocean.
Because it crosses floodplains, forests and open woodlands, the Chobe consists of a complex network of channels and marshes, which makes for spectacular game viewing due to the lush vegetation that surrounds it. While it has water all year round, the Chobe rises significantly from February to May, after the rains in Angola that start in November. During this wet season, the level of the Zambezi floodplains rises, pushing water into the Chobe all the way to the seasonal Lake Liambezi. Once the lake reaches saturation point, the water has nowhere further to go, and so starts flowing in the opposite direction in a phenomenon known as the “backflow”.
During your stay with the Zambezi Queen Collection, you’ll be able to observe animals in their natural environment from a tender boat, making for a relaxing safari experience. A major attraction of the area is the elephants, whose resident population is estimated to be over 120 000. You’ll also be able to see large herds of buffalo, and if you’re lucky, rare sightings like herds of Roan Antelope and Sable. Besides the land and water-based mammals, this is also a birdwatcher’s paradise and you can expect to encounter over 450 species.
Weather, Seasons & Time Zones
The Time Zone is GMT / UTC +2.
There is no best or worst time to visit the Chobe area, because every month offers visitors something special. However, if you’re looking for a pure wildlife experience, the drier winter months from May to October see greater concentrations of game along the banks of the Chobe River. The summer months from November to April see the birdlife explode with the addition of the summer migrants to the area. If you’re a fishing enthusiast, you’ll be excited to know that we have excellent fishing through the summer and winter – it’s just that the techniques we use change.
How To Get There
The properties that make up the Zambezi Queen Collection are based on the Namibian side of the Chobe River. Here’s information on how to reach them:
If you’re on a self-drive safari, secure parking can be arranged for your vehicles next to the Kasane Immigration Office. The GPS co-ordinates are S 17° 48′ 12.618” / E 25° 8′ 54.44”. Please advise at time of booking whether you require secure parking.
There are four main access points by air:
- Kasane International Airport, Botswana (BBK) is about 15 minutes drive/transfer from Kasane Immigration Office
- Victoria Falls Airport, Zimbabwe (VFA) is about 1 ½ hours drive/transfer from Kasane Immigration Office
- Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, formerly Livingstone Airport, Zambia (LVI) is about 2 hours drive/transfer from Kasane Immigration Office
- Katima Mulilo Airport, Namibia (MPA) is about 2 ½ hours drive/transfer from Kasane Immigration Office
Flights depart daily from South Africa to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and weekly from Namibia. Flight costs are excluded from the rate but can be booked through our in-house travel agent.
Road transfers to and from Kasane International Airport as well as to and from the Kasane Immigration Office are included in our rate. You can also choose shared or private road transfers at an additional cost from Victoria Falls International Airport, Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, formerly Livingstone Airport, and Katima Mulilo Airport.
Arrival & Departure Procedure
- On arrival, your first priority is to make sure you get your passport stamped at the airport
- You’ll then be met by a representative at the airport who will help with your luggage and transfer you to the Kasane Immigration Office (KIO) in an air-conditioned vehicle
- Once you arrive at KIO, a Zambezi Queen Collection staff member will meet you and help with your luggage as well as formalities at passport control as you exit Botswana
- A Zambezi Queen Collection staff member will then transfer you by motorised boat to the Namibian Immigration Office, where you’ll get your passport stamped. Please wear comfortable shoes, a hat and sunscreen as there is a short walk to the immigration office
- Both Kasane and Namibian immigration offices open at 07h30 and close at 16h30 daily
- When arriving at the Kasane and Namibian Immigration Offices guests needs to fill in the required immigration forms to gain access and departure permission from the relevant authorities. This process can take between 45 to 60 minutes to complete and needs to be considered in terms of timing and pre-planning when coming to stay on one of the houseboats or at the lodge.
- Should you know beforehand that you will arrive at KIO before 13h00 on the day of your arrival, please notify our reservations office 48 hours before you arrive
- Collection is from 13h00 on day of arrival
- Drop off is from 9h30 on day of departure
Arrival & Departure Times
- Check-in is between 13h00 and 16h00
- Kasane Immigration Office closes at 16h30 and guests are advised to arrive no later than 16h00
- Guests arriving before 13h00 on day of arrival can make use of the facilities at our nearby lounge in Kasane until check-in at 13h00
- Check-out is from 09h30 on day of departure to ensure guests get to the Kasane Immigration Office by 10h00
- Kasane Immigration Office opens at 07h30
- Guests departing after 10h30 can make use of the facilities at our nearby lounge in Kasane
While on board the Zambezi Queen or one of the three Chobe Princesses, you’ll travel along the Chobe River, just a few kilometres from the point where the four African countries of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet. While you won’t travel enormous distances, your surroundings are rich with bird and wildlife, which means you’ll see an incredible amount while moving at a relaxing pace that’s perfectly suited to the rhythms of the African bush.
Because the Chobe Princesses are smaller vessels, they traverse about 50km of the Chobe River, as opposed to the Zambezi Queen, which traverses a shorter distance of about 25 kilometres. This doesn’t mean that either one is a better or worse game viewing experience – it’s just that the pace at which you move is different. Each day, you’ll stop at different mooring spots in the afternoon where you’ll stay for the night.
While you’ll be able to view most sightings from the comfort of the boats, both the Zambezi Queen and the Chobe Princesses are equipped with tender boats, which are smaller boats that let you get even closer to the wildlife. So, for example, if there’s a sighting that can’t be accessed by the boats then you can jump onto a tender boat to get nearer the action.
If the wind is stronger than 11 knots, the Zambezi Queen will not sail in the interests of your safety. However, while sailing is weather dependant, we’ll make sure you spend as much time as possible exploring the river and experiencing everything this unique area has to offer. During your stay with us, your itinerary is highly flexible and we’ll do our utmost to accommodate exactly the kind of trip you’re looking for.
Children & Families
- The Chobe Princesses and Ichingo Chobe River Lodge welcome children of all ages. We can accommodate up to one child under the age of 8 sharing with their parents. This is subject to availability at time of booking
- In 2018, children over the age of 7 are welcome on the Zambezi Queen. From 2019, children over the age of 12 are welcome on the Zambezi Queen
- If you’re bringing more than one child, you’ll need to book an additional room for every two children that accompany you
- Please note that no separate activities and/or menus are available for children
- Children 16 years and older are subject to adult rates on the Zambezi Queen
- Children 13 years and older are subject to adult rates on the Chobe Princesses and at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge
You as the traveller and/or your travel agent are responsible for determining what documentation is required, as well as ensuring any such documentation including passports, visas, medical certificates and unabridged birth certificates are up to date and have been obtained before travel.
Due to constantly changing visa requirements, it is recommended that travellers and or/travel agents contact the appropriate embassy for accurate and up-to-date information.
Travel insurance is a requirement for all guests and must be purchased prior to travel. Travel insurance must be comprehensive and cover full air evacuation and repatriation, in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Because our properties are situated in a malaria area, we advise that you take malaria prophylactics. Please consult your doctor before travelling for up-to-date medical advice.
Should you make use of a CPAP (a small medical supervising device), the houseboats switch over to an inverter system after 22h00 at night and we connect the CPAP to our inverter system. Please advise at time of booking whether you require medical assistance.
Power & Connectivity
Zambezi Queen and Ichingo Chobe River Lodge have three-pronged South African plugs as well as two-pronged European plugs. American adaptors are available on request. The Chobe Princesses have three-pronged South African plugs, so you’ll need to bring your own adaptors if you have foreign plugs on your appliances.
On board the houseboats, there is limited mobile and roaming connection. Wifi is available on the Zambezi Queen and at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge. Wifi is not available on the Chobe Princess houseboats however, we see this as the perfect opportunity for you to unplug and be in the moment, while you reconnect with nature and shore up exciting stories to share with your friends once you get back on dry land.
The main electricity supply on all houseboats within the Zambezi Queen Collection is supplied by generators, which switch off at 19h00. At this time we switch over to our battery powered inverter system for the duration of the night. Once this happens, our cabins lose functionality of the air-conditioning unit, main over-head lights as well as wall socket electricity. You will, however, still have full use of the fan, the bed-side reading lights and emergency lighting in the bathroom.
Special Dietary Requirements
While we can cater for special dietary requirements, we ask that you specify this when you book – our remote location means that we need a bit of time to source ingredients that may be out of the ordinary. Unfortunately this also means that we’re not able to cater for Halaal and Kosher guests.
We accept the Namibian Dollar, South African Rand, Botswana Pula and US Dollar. MasterCard and Visa cards are accepted but Amex cards are not accepted.
What To Pack
- Sun hat
- Swimming costume
- Comfortable shoes
- Flip flops
- Chargers (camera and mobile)
- Loose comfortable clothing
Please take note if you are planning to bring a drone:
- Drones are banned for use within 5 nautical miles of Namibian national parks unless you have permission to do so. The Zambezi Queen Collection does not permit the use of drones due to our proximity to the Chobe National Park. Drone laws are constantly changing therefore we advise you check with the relevant aviation authority to ensure you are up to date on the latest drone laws prior to your trip.
- Insect repellent
- Hairdryers (available on request on the Chobe Princesses and at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge)
- Electronic safe
- Bathroom amenities: Soap, Shampoo, Shower Gel, Body Lotion
Our dress code is casual, so formal attire isn’t necessary for evening dinner. We recommend light and comfortable clothing in summer, with a hat readily at hand. In winter, you’ll need a pullover for early mornings and evenings.
Gratuities are at your own discretion. You can add gratuities onto your bill and settle by credit card on Zambezi Queen only. Electronic transactions are charged in Botswana Pula.
Due to the nature and construction of our houseboats as well as the remoteness of our lodge, our properties are unfortunately not suitable for guests with mobility impairments or who are wheelchair bound.
Water On Board
Water on board our houseboats and at our lodge is safe to shower in and brush your teeth, but we suggest that you rather drink the purified water that we provide.
Responsibility towards the environment forms the foundation upon which the boats in the Zambezi Queen Collection were built:
- We run the latest, most fuel efficient and lowest emission generators during the day. After 22h00, the entire boat switches over to the battery power through the night
- Hot water is provided by a solar heating system on-board the vessel
- Energy-saving lights are installed through the vessel
- All our cleaning detergents and amenities are biodegradable
- We use an eight-stage river water purification plant for water in showers, taps and our pool
- A water jet propulsion system replaces the conventional propeller system causing no damage to the riverbed and/or fauna and flora
- As part of our commitment to preserving our surroundings, we aim to leave no lasting footprint on the environment in which we operate
The Wilderness Foundation
We employ local Namibian staff and are committed to continuous training to empower them to better their own circumstances as well as those of their families and local community. The Zambezi Queen Collection is part of the Wilderness Foundation that supports community projects throughout Africa as well as anti-poaching programs. We are involved in several programs to uplift our local community.
Please do not hesitate to ask us about these programs and the opportunity to assist with sponsorships.
Programs include: University scholarship funding, supplying medical equipment, supplying stationery, local community transport, training in useful skills to improve knowledge and increase employment possibilities.