Perhaps the park's greatest attraction is its northern boundary, the Chobe River. In the dry season animals converge on this stretch of water from the whole of northern Botswana. Elephant and buffalo, especially, form into huge herds for which the park is famous. In November 1853 David Livingstone passed through the area and described the river:… though the river is from thirteen to fifteen feet in depth at its lowest ebb, and broad enough to allow a steamer to ply upon it, the suddenness of the bending would prevent navigation; but should the country ever become civilised, the Chobe would be a convenient natural canal.
Fortunately that kind of civilisation hasn't reached the Chobe yet – there are no canal boats to be seen – and today's traveller must make do with 4WDs or the small motor-boats which weave along the river, amongst channels still ruled by hippos.
The southern bank of the Chobe River is slightly raised above the river, perhaps 3–4m high. Below this is a fairly level floodplain of short green grass and reeds, through which the river follows a very meandering course, roughly west to east – with many switchbacks, loops and adjacent old lagoons.
High on the bank is the main riverfront track, which is wide but sandy. This leads from the Kasane to the Ngoma gate fairly directly. Looping off from this are game-viewing tracks. Most of those on the north side drop down to the floodplains, and then loop around by the river. Those few heading off south usually follow straight firebreaks into the dry woodlands that make up the bulk of Chobe behind the thin band of riparian forest.
You can't get lost, provided that you don't cross to the south of the main road. Head east and you'll reach Kasane, west and you'll find Ngoma.
The game densities are generally at their best between Kasane and Ihaha, although the density of vehicles is also high here. When you head west past Ihaha, towards Ngoma, you'll find an increasing number of Namibians herding cattle on the floodplain areas beside the Chobe River. Game densities in the Forest Reserve are significantly lower than those in the park, but you do have better chances of spotting some less common species like sable and roan antelope.