Houseboat Bliss on the Chobe River, Botswana | Sense Africa

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Houseboat in Botswana21st April '15

To be honest I had not got any expectations for a stay on a houseboat in Botswana, I actually had no idea what I was letting myself in for… What a fabulous surprise it was going to be.

Journey to your houseboat

Luke from the houseboat called The Pride of the Zambezi helped process me through Botswana immigration, I officially left the country. We then went for a 10 minute journey across the Chobe River to Namibia on the opposite side. The border post here was even more remote than the one in Botswana. To begin with I couldn’t even find the man to stamp my passport for me – he was having a snooze around the back. I think that day I had been his second visitor, so not a very stressful job. In fact, it was more traumatic for me trying to find the guy and I was meant to be on holiday!

All houseboats are registered in Namibia because the country allows fishing on the River Chobe, whereas Botswana does not. Fishing is one of the more popular activities that people do on houseboats, hence why the are registered in Namibia. Although if you’re into your wildlife photography then it does not matter either way. Having said this, all houseboats in Chobe are registered in Namibia be to get round this loophole.

Luke and I then set off in the boat to find my bedroom for the next two nights.  The houseboat was about 30 minutes boat ride west up the River Chobe. The journey was a speedboat ride and I felt as if I was in a wind tunnel for half an hour, it was exhilarating. We curved round enormous pods of hippo, spotted herds of elephants on the riverbank from afar, sped past regal fish eagles as they perched above our heads and gave a wide berth to skittish impala drinking from the water’s edge. It was all a bit surreal. I put my sunglasses, sipped my beer and enjoyed the ride.
hippo watching on Chobe river

What is it lie to stay on a houseboat?

And then there was my home for two days, floating idly with the current, nestled amongst waterlilies. The crew enthusiastically welcomed me aboard and gave me a quick tour around my floating accommodation.

I have to say the setup is incredible. There are four cabins downstairs, all of which are ensuite and every room has enormous windows looking out over the water. I actually kept my curtains open during the night so that the twinkling stars could keep me company.

The main deck area is a large open plan room with a bar, a large table for supper and very comfy couches. There was also a decking area at the front and the back of the boat, and even a jacuzzi! And then the top deck is where the captain guides our mobile home along with a luxury cabin with private decking and a very very spacious room. By the time I had had my tour around the establishment I got back to the main decking area to find out that my lunch been laid out on a little table facing out over the Chobe River, absolute bliss.
inside a house boat on Chobe River
You find that you settle into the routine on the houseboat far too easily.  Each cabin has its own small boat so that people can go fishing whenever they feel like it or have their own private game viewing in their small boats. There is also a larger boat that seats all 10 guests, if they chose to do so, and these were excellent to go out in for sunrise and sundowner cruises. During the day the houseboat would leisurely chug up and down the Chobe River in search of interesting animal sightings or good fishing spots.

Activities on the Chobe River

That afternoon I went out on a sundowner boat cruise in one of the houseboats private cruise boats. I sipped my gin and tonic I watched elephants drinking from the waters edge, only about 10 m away from me. There was also a huge flock of bee eaters chitter chattering to each other as they dove in and out of their mud nests and a troop of baboons causing mischief with a loan impala. It was idyllic.
bee eaters on the River Chobe

This particular houseboat is one of the very few houseboats that has permission to moor up within Chobe National Park. This means that at the end of the evening and at the very beginning of the day you have the whole of the river frontage to yourself. All safari vehicles have to be out of the park by sun down. So it is a real pleasure to experience the peace and tranquillity in the park, although the raucous honking of hippos on a regular basis is just about acceptable.

There was more to come, as we had our three course dinner we could hear lion roaring at the waters edge, heard over the clink of glasses and the appreciative sounds of people eating delicious steak.

A houseboat stay is bliss, highly recommended at the end of a holiday in Botswana. It is a highlight of Botswana.

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