Going on safari: should you stay on land or on water?


How are they different, and what are the advantages of each? If you’re not sure which one is for you, here’s the low down:

Land-based safaris

Probably the better-known way to see animals is via land, where you stay at a tented camp or lodge and traditionally drive in the early mornings or late afternoons on 4x4 vehicles through the veld, glimpsing birds, animals, insects and flora along the way.

Water-based safaris

Safaris on the water offer a tranquil experience, as you glide along rivers and explore remote corners of the landscape that no one else has access to. If you love water-based activities like fishing, boating and mokoro safaris, then this is also the ideal choice for you.

Birders will be in paradise as they glimpse breeds like Pied Kingfishers, Yellow-Billed Oxpeckers and African Darters, but animal viewing is equally dramatic, as you’ll spot all sorts of creatures venturing down to the river’s edge to quench their thirst. The twitch of a hippo’s ears in the water, the sight of an elephant’s trunk dipping down to drink – you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to animal spotting. Best of all, you may well be able to see all this from the comfort of your own cabin while on board a Chobe River houseboat such as  the Zambezi Queen or Chobe Princess.

A water-based safari on board a luxury houseboat doesn’t mean you’re confined to your luxurious cabin though – visit the plunge pool on deck, have a meal in the restaurant, enjoy a drink at the bar, or put your name down for any of the interesting daily excursions on to land.

What if I want the best of both? 

If you’re struggling to choose between the two options, the good news is that you can have it all, as some travel companies combine water and land-based safaris into one glorious package. For example, the Zambezi Queen Collection offers a safari experience where you can stay in the intimate tented Ichingo Chobe River Lodge before boarding either the luxurious Zambezi Queen or ther three Chobe Princess houseboats – all in the Chobe region. 

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