The far northern region of Botswana, comprising the Chobe National Park, Chobe Forest Reserve, Linyanti and Savuti channels, and Kwando Wilderness, is almost as popular as the delta. It is certainly vast: Chobe National Park alone covers more than 11,000 sq. km (4,290 sq. miles) of northern Botswana and affords access to a variety of wildlife, but the major drawing card here is elephants: The area harbors a large proportion -- some 100,000 -- of Botswana's elephant population (said to be the largest in the world). In the dry season, the Chobe River is the only major source of water north of the Okavango, so game travels here from great distances, which, in turn, ensures a large lion population. The area is also alive with more than 460 species of birds. The Savuti area, in the west-central region, was once submerged beneath an enormous inland sea and connected to the Okavango and Zambezi rivers, but that was eons ago. Today it's a relatively harsh wilderness landscape, with vast swathes of open grassland. There is a fair number of permanently resident game here, including leopard, lion, and spotted hyena, but game numbers are greatly augmented at the beginning of the dry season, when large numbers of zebras and wildebeests move through the area from the west to the sweeter grasses on offer in the Mababe Depression to the south.
West of Chobe, four large reserves abut the Kwando and Linyanti rivers. Selinda is linked by the Okavango and Linyanti rivers. Kwando is a massive reserve with only two camps; one of them, Lebala, is rated as one of the best in Botswana. Chobe Enclave -- a private concession featuring one of our favorite owner-run camps and a great walking safari -- is an excellent value. The pick of the bunch is Linyati, comprising only three exclusive camps. Like elsewhere, the private reserves are not fenced off from national parks, so animals migrate freely between them. These camps are best during the dry season, when the perennial waters of the Kwando and Linyanti rivers attract thirsty game.