When to visit
You'll generally find a wider variety of bird species here in the wet season, many of which will be in their breeding plumage.
The movement of the animals is rather more complex. Most of Chobe's larger herbivores migrate with the seasons, to find water to drink and pastures new. These movements are, to a large extent, predictable, so bear them in mind as you plan your trip to maximise your chances of good game viewing.
Like most of Africa's game migrations, the principle behind this one is simple. The animals stay close to the permanent sources of water during the driest months, then they disperse into the forests and (especially) the open grasslands at the start of the rains to take advantage of the fresh grazing and browsing.
In northern Botswana, this means that game becomes more and more prolific near the permanent watercourses – the Chobe, the Linyanti, and the edges of the Okavango – as the dry season wears on. Then as soon as the rains come, many animals head south and east into the interior's forests and plains (especially the Makgadikgadi area and Nxai Pan). This gives the vegetation beside the rivers a little time to recover, so that when the dry season returns the animals will again find some grazing near the water.
The finer details of this are more complex, and slightly different for each species. Zebra, for example, have been the focus of a research project which tracked them using radio transmitters and a micro-light aircraft, based in Savuti. This study suggested that they spend the rainy summer, from November to about February, in the Mababe depression – venturing south to Nxai Pan, and then following the Boteti River down to around Tsoe, before heading across to the Gweta area and back north to Nxai Pan.
In March and April they pass through Savuti for a few months, where they foal. This makes a particularly good foaling ground as the rich alluvial deposits from the old Savuti Channel have left the area with mineral-rich soil supporting particularly nutritious grasses. A few months later, as dryness begins to bite around July, they move again towards the Linyanti for the dry season. Finally in late October and November, they return to the Mababe area as the rains begin and the grasses start to sprout.
Similarly, Sommerlatte studied elephant movements in the park in the mid-1970s. He found that the highest wet-season concentrations were around the Gcoha Hills, the eastern side of the Mababe Depression, and the mouth the Ngwezumba River (the Nogatsaa/Tchinga pans area). Though clearly movements have changed since then, if only because the Savuti Channel has dried up.
For the visitor, this means that the game in the dry season is best in the river areas. In the wet season, and just afterwards, the interior pans are definitely worth a visit. Savuti is unusual in that, remarkably, it has good game all year, but is especially interesting around April/May and November.