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Chobe Waterfront Protection Plan

Posted by maunselfdrive4x4 on January 24, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Chobe National Park Decongestion Strategy

 

Effective February 1, 2012

 

Over 75 vehicles enter the Chobe NP at Sedudu Gate everyday. This includes day trippers, camp and lodge vehicles, mobile safari operators and self drive vehicles. Often in peak hours and high season, scenarios like what has happened in the Masai Mara and Ngoro Crater - too many vehicles on wildlife sightings and related issues, has contributed to the DWNP designing a new convuluted system to make our safari experience more difficult.

 

We must now deal with a reservation system of route(s) usage. Lodges, camps, safari operators will have the early morning and late afternoon hour time slots available for their exclusive use. Day-trippers and self drive, midday.


We believe the objective is to implement the plan on 'The River Bank Route' which runs along the Chobe River from Sedudu gate to Serondela.

 

Seasonal period                                                            Tour operators                                Self drives and day trippers

1st April – 30th September                                         Morning: 0600-0900 hrs                                    0900-1430hrs

                                                                                   Afternoon: 1430-1830hrs

1st October - 31st March                                            Morning:0530-0900hrs                                      0900-1430hrs

                                                                                   Afternoon: 1430-1900hrs

 

If you are booked at Ihaha campsite, you must enter at the Nantanga entrance, (also called route 15) which takes one straight to Ihaha. If you want to game drive on the regulated river front route, you must book the day and time slot, up to 7 days in advance, based on availability of space (limited to 25 vehicles in that midday time slot each day).

 

It is not clear yet on how one goes about booking this reservation except at Sedudu Gate. Extra fees have been proposed for each route, 3 routes in total. The safari operators, lodges and camps will have their own telephone reservation hotline and eventually via internet. 

 

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK VISITORS CODE OF CONDUCT

The aim of this code of conduct is to enhance the quality of experience and safety offered to visitors to Chobe National Park and to ensure the sustainability of its ecotourism.

GAME DRIVES

1. Entry into the park should always be at designated entry points where payments are made.

2. A reasonable following distance of 300 to 500m should be kept between vehicles.

3. Maximum driving speed should be 40km/hr.

4. Only four vehicles are allowed per sighting and a maximum of 5 minutes should be spent by each vehicle.

5. Parking should be done with two-side wheels on the road and the other two-side wheels off the road to avoid off-road driving.

6. DRIVING OFF THE ROAD IS STRICKLY PROHIBITED.

7. Minimise disturbance to animals to avoid wilful obstruction to other park users.

8. Do not inform another of a sighting through a mobile device, radios and/or cell phones are for emergency purposes only.

9. Respect the animal’s living space; do not go too close to animals.

10. The first person at the sighting should be given priority, never block another vehicle.

11. Always stick/park to the side where the sighting is, to give way to other vehicles.

12. Slow down to avoid accidents and unnecessary dust when you approach another vehicle head on.

 

The complete DWNP Chobe National Park Decongestion Strategy can be downloaded from here.   


Power Point Presentation 

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4 Comments

Reply maunselfdrive4x4
8:19 AM on January 27, 2012 
Update on the Decongestion Strategy for Chobe:
There was another meeting held in Kasane yesterday (25th) which was attended by ALL operators (lodges, hotels, mobile operators, transfer companies) and the Chobe Permanent Secretary. The meeting was chaired by Mr Jonathan Gibson (Managing Director of Chobe Holdings). All attendants had an opportunity to raise their issues on the new rules. Basically the new rules came as a huge shock to all, especially the implementation by 1st of Feb.
It became clear that the new rules would do more damage than good, especially to the locally owned businesses.
The result of yesterday's meeting was, that the Permanent Secretary was going to call an emergency meeting with the ministry in Gaborone next week. The plan is to postpone the starting date of the new rules until such a time as there has been proper dialogue with stakeholders and a more workable solution to the congestion on the river can be found.
We will keep you updated and hope our next post about the topic will be a positive one. The tourism industry is important for the country and Chobe plays an important role, especially the smaller, locally owned companies need to be protected
Reply maunselfdrive4x4
2:42 PM on February 3, 2012 
The Decongestion Plan went into effect on February 1st. The River Bank Route - Sedudu to Serondela - will be the only regulated route at this time. Self Drive must apply for reservations to drive the route up to 7 days in advance. Limited to 25 vehicles in that midday time frame.
Reply InterAxxie
4:29 PM on February 17, 2012 
As a 10 times+ Africa visiting wildlife photographer and travel writer I can fully understand the reason for the Chobe Waterfront protection plan. I visited the waterfront several times in the last years and was amazed by the way some self drive visitors acted. Racing around like lunatics, seperating elephant calves and mothers and chasing away drinking leopards, hyeanas and sable antilopes. Sadly a lot of 'licenced guides' and official operators did exactly the same. Everything for the best look at or an unsharp picture of an animal... Everything for happy clients and a big tip.

Don't get me wrong: I think that every visitor should have the best wildlife watching time of their lives in Botswana and that every guide has content clients and nice tips. But these new rules won't ensure that in the long run.

With the new regulations tour operators with the most wealthy clients will get nearly private access to the waterfront. Serious self drive visitors are practically banned. Every sane photographer knows that it is nearly impossible to make good shots between 09.00 and 14.30. Even if there are animals active in the heat of the day, the harsh light will ruin every picture.

For me, as a regular and very environmentally conscious visitor, the new rules are a reason to no longer visit Chobe or Kasane. Many photographers in my network will do the same and I no longer will encourage people to stop over in Kasane for longer than a day. Kasane will be left with the masses. Busloads of once in a lifetime - 'seen it, done that style' - tourists that will visit the town for a day and will join one of the tens of booze cruises.

Again: no big deal for the guides. They will have probably more paying visitors. But Chobe will lose the fans of the waterfront. people who like to take good pictures that promote Chobe. People who don't race around but sit and wait for the wildlife to come down the slopes for a drink. People who are nature lovers and who don't need a beer to enjoy wildlife. People who simply love the place and come back again and again.

There are more ways to protect wildlife and nature in Chobe and to give tour operators and self drive visitors a great wildlife experience. Make the waterfront a one way route with some parking spots for example. Give higher fines to those that break the rules. Choose days on which self drive visitors also can enjoy the best light of early morning and afternoon. Build hides. What ever!

The restocking of game in the Namibian Caprivi-parcs is gaining momentum and several very nice lodges and camping grounds are opened in the Strip. My guess is that in a few years time more guests will visit the Namibian site of the big rivers, than the Botswana side. Namibia has good infrastructure, is easier to reach from Europe and is stimulating self drivers. I am afraid Botswana is making a serious mistake with the new, one sided regulations.

Rolf Hendriks
InterAxxie Fotografie
the Netherlands
Reply maunselfdrive4x4
2:43 PM on May 12, 2012 
Making a reservation for the River Bank Route can be done up to one month in advance - Tel 00267 6250 235
Request confirmation via email or fax.