by Michaela Kanzler
Since October 2004 the river plains in Namibia’s far north east have been open to exploration by way of a comfortable cruise on the safari boat Ichobezi. On its 17-m length, the Ichobezi accommodates four double cabins with en-suite bathrooms, a large galley, a sun deck and a plunge pool, during a leisurely cruise alongside the Caprivi region.
The boat is constructed to operate on the Zambezi River, and travels about 35 km up the Chobe River right into Chobe National Park, even during the low-water season. The banks of the Chobe offer excellent opportunities for game viewing. The area is particularly well known for large herds of elephant and buffalo, and it is often possible to come quite close to these animals.
A crew of up to five spoil guests on the Ichobezi during the leisurely cruise. Several activities are available for the adventurous. They can choose between excursions into the adjacent countryside, fishing trips and game- and bird-viewing cruises. Two small motor craft, each with its own guide, enable guests to move around independently of each other.
Throughout the year more than 400 bird species, including several rare water birds, can be seen in the Caprivi. From September until March many migratory birds visit this region. In addition, guests may see giraffe, kudu, waterbuck, puku, lechwe, impala and baboon. Excursions into one of the villages along the river allow visitors to gain an insight into the way of life of the local inhabitants.
The waters of the Chobe and the Zambezi are a real anglers’ paradise. Waterways of more than 100 km provide the best tiger fishing in Africa. Anglers are accompanied by qualified staff of the Ichobezi and the required equipment is available free of charge. The home port of the three-deck luxury boat is near Ichingo Chobe River Lodge on Impalila Island at the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi rivers where Namibia meets Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The closest settlement is the border village of Kasane in northern Botswana. Impalila Island can be reached only by boat via Botswana, since the roads on the Namibian side are rarely negotiable. Guests are therefore picked up by speedboat at Kasane and taken to the anchorage of the Ichobezi along the Chobe. Thus even the approach from Kasane is a unique adventure.
Alternatively, guests may board the Ichobezi at Katima Mulilo and float down the Zambezi in two leisurely days. A subsequent stay at the Ichingo Chobe River Lodge concludes this East Caprivi experience.
This article appeared in the Feb/March ‘05 edition of Travel News Namibia.