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Aerial view of a boat cruise on the Chobe River

Botswana Boat Safaris

Experience an Okavango Delta or Chobe River boat cruise


There is perhaps no more relaxing and romantic way to observe Botswana’s amazing wildlife and discover the country’s natural beauty than by going on a Chobe River boat cruise or a Botswana houseboat safari. By gently cruising along the waters of the Chobe River or the Okavango Delta, you can witness spectacular birdlife and wildlife from a different perspective and enjoy a safari experience like no other.

Photographers on a sunset boat cruise
Who should go

Magical sunset and great photo opportunities for nature lovers

One of the best things about a Botswana boat safari is that there are so many different ways of enjoying it and making it your own. Perhaps you would just like to go on a Chobe River boat cruise to discover animals and a glorious sunset. Or maybe you would like to spend a couple of nights on a houseboat on either the Chobe River or the Okavango Delta. You could of course also combine the two and experience amazing safari moments in this wonderfully unique aquatic way.

  • Honeymooners
  • Comfort Seekers
  • Photographers
  • Birders
Luisa Botswana Travel Expert
As we were cruising along the Chobe River and sighting animals that were coming to the river’s edge for an afternoon drink, I suddenly realised what a comfortable way of going on safari this really is. As opposed to going on a land safari, there was no dust, no bumpy roads, and a lovely cool breeze on our boat cruise. What a fantastic way of getting close to the animals!
Luisa | Botswana Travel Expert
An elephant walking through a swamp and feeding in tall grass


The mighty Chobe River and the iconic Okavango Delta are naturally the best places for any boat safari in Botswana. Both regions offer beautiful cruises in small, comfortable motorboats with possible animal sightings in fantastic landscapes. Often, these excursions also include a memorable sundowner for you to enjoy on the way too. Charming houseboats also operate on both the Chobe River, as well as the northern reaches of the Okavango Delta. Spend a few nights on a houseboat and get to know these different landscapes and their inhabitants in the most comfortable way.

When to go

Boat safaris are possible all year round on the Chobe River, while the best time for water-based activities in the Okavango Delta is from May until September. This is when the water level is at its highest point and is also the best time for game viewing as many animals, especially elephants will come to the river’s edge to drink and play in the cool waters.

Closeup of two elephant tusks trunk submerged in water

Any Season

Dry and green seasonBest for boat cruises on the Chobe River

Dry and green seasonBest for boat cruises on the Chobe River

Boat cruises and houseboat stays on the Chobe River are possible all year round. Whether you come during the dry season from May until October or the green season from November until April, water levels will be high enough to enjoy a boat trip. Just ensure that the season you choose to travel also works for safari activities in other national parks you will be visiting.

Aerial view of Okavango Delta

Dry Season

May to SeptemberBest for boat cruises in the Okavango Delta

May to SeptemberBest for boat cruises in the Okavango Delta

If you want to do a boat cruise specifically in the Okavango Delta, you have two options: Either travel during the dry season from May until September, when the water-levels – albeit counter-intuitively – are highest in the Okavango Delta. Or alternatively travel during the green season and book a water-based camp located at permanent rivers and lagoons with consistent water levels throughout the year.


Botswana’s amazing water landscapes are waiting for you to be discovered on a motorboat cruise or a houseboat safari. Whether you explore the mighty Chobe River or the waters of the Okavango Delta, you will be rewarded with an incredibly rewarding safari experience.

Additional information for boat trips and safaris in Botswana

Chobe River boat cruise: how, when and where

A boat cruise on the Chobe River or along the shallow waters of the Okavango Delta is a safari activity which should be on every traveller who wishes to explore Botswana list. Often combined with a sundowner, you get to admire beautiful landscapes, capture amazing wildlife moments, and witness a stunning African sunset. We make use of smaller boats which are more agile and enable you to draw even closer to any wildlife sightings you may encounter. These boats also have a limited capacity, meaning you are provided with unobstructed views and allow you a more intimate safari experience.

The classic Botswana motorboat cruise experience is on the Chobe River and can provide you with excellent wildlife encounters at any time of year. If you want to travel during a time where wildlife is at its most plentiful at the river’s edge, then the dry season between May and October is the perfect time for you to go. If it is spectacular birdlife you are after, then the green season between November to April is the best time for you. No matter when you go, you will experience beautiful landscapes and amazing sunsets.

A bird flying across a river, a houseboat in the background

Boat cruises are a great opportunity to see Botswana’s birdlife up close.

A herd of buffaloes at the banks of the Chobe River

You may see large buffalo and elephant herds coming to the riverbanks to drink.

A traveller taking photos of elephants at the river banks

We can also organise special interest boat cruises which focus on photographic safaris.

Why to do a boat cruise on your Botswana safari

A Chobe River boat cruise or a Botswana houseboat safari lets you redefine what it means to be on safari. By drifting along cool waters, you can comfortably discover some of country’s best wildlife regions in a way that cannot be replicated anywhere else. The sight of the sun going down, casting a sparkling glow over the Okavango Delta or Chobe River is a beautiful image which will stay with you forever.
Both a motorboat cruise and a houseboat safari offer their own special charm and provide two unique experiences. Both allow you to step outside the realm of what it means to go on a “normal” classic safari. It is peaceful and calming to float along the Chobe’s or the Delta’s waters and at the same time, can be exhilarating when you come across great wildlife sightings. A variety of animals such as elephant, buffalo, crocodile, hippo, various antelope, and a plethora of bird species can be seen in and around the cool waters making this an almost ‘must do’ of the most popular activities in Botswana for everyone.

Okavango Delta boat cruise: how, when and where

A boat cruise in the Okavango Delta can be more seasonal, depending on the region and the given water levels at the time. Water levels are at their highest during the dry season and this is when most motorboat activities are offered. However, some accommodations, located in regions with a more consistent water level allow for water activities all year through. Plenty of times, these lodges will be inaccessible by vehicle, even a 4×4 safari vehicle, so you would fly to the nearest airstrip and then be transferred to your accommodation in a motorboat. You know you are in for a treat when the transfer to your accommodation is already exciting in itself.

Houseboat experiences: how, when and where

An overnight stay on a houseboat on either the Chobe River or the panhandle of the Okavango Delta is the ultimate in exploring Botswana in a comfortable and relaxing way. Houseboats such as Chobe Princess and the Zambezi Queen offer beautiful cabins and marvelous facilities with multiple decks, with tremendous views and excellent cuisine to delight any traveller. Other houseboats on the Chobe such as the Pangolin Voyageur also offer beautiful facilities and can even be perfectly geared up towards photographic safaris upon request.

Houseboats on the Okavango Panhandle also provide a fantastic adventure for travellers who wish to explore the waterways of one of the largest inland deltas in the world. Guests usually spend one to two nights on the houseboat and generally all, or most, activities are included. This means that not only do you get to enjoy your beautiful houseboat and its facilities, but you can also enjoy exciting activities such as guided river safaris on a smaller motorboat, guided fishing trips, cultural village outings and even land-based safari game drives. A Botswana houseboat safari can be done at any time of year and is the ultimate excursion which combines the adventure of safari with the relaxation of a holiday.

Two women on a houseboat
Houseboat Safaris

Enjoy a night on the river in Chobe and Okavango

A man with a professional camera taking a photo
Photographic Safaris

Join specialised boat cruises to take the best photos

travel expert
water lily

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