January 31 2024

Lifers for a lifetime!

Meet Our Birding Family! We were delighted to host South Africans Craig and Christine Widdows on their recent bucket list trip to the ultimate birding destination – the Chobe River. Craig and Christine have enjoyed various birding adventures around southern Africa, even after their kids were born, beautifully documenting their travels on Instagram.

With over 707 bird species ticked off their list in South Africa alone, they know a thing or two about birding.

Read on to discover how many lifers they saw in the Chobe!

When we heard the Our Birding family duo were planning a trip to Botswana to explore the famous Chobe area, we jumped at the chance to host them. The Chobe River is considered one of Africa’s premier birding locations, famous for its sheer diversity of habitats and species. From grassy floodplains to thick riverine forests, this area attracts waterbirds, dry woodland species, and many lifers – an absolute paradise for birdwatchers.

We couldn’t wait to hear the verdict from this seasoned birding duo on whether Chobe lives up to its legendary status. Read on below for their full review and beautiful images capturing the magic of a Chobe birding safari at the lodge.

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5 Reasons to visit Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

Review: A Chobe Birding Safari with Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

Home to an incredibly diverse array of bird species, including some highly sought-after Southern African birds, the Chobe River and Impalila Island are well known amongst birders and wildlife enthusiasts. Positioned tantalisingly close to open river stretches, secluded waterways and tall woodlands, Ichingo Chobe River Lodge acts as the perfect base for this birding experience.

We spent months researching the whereabouts and habits of our birding targets, but little did we know that the Ichingo Chobe River Lodge team would exceed even our wildest expectations. Our time in this birder’s paradise started with an early morning boat cruise as we weaved between the low, overhanging trees along the riverbanks.

White-backed Night Heron, African Finfoot, Holub’s Golden Weaver and Half-collared Kingfisher were all seen within the first 50m of the cruise. Deeper into the island, where large fig trees dominate, we found a great habitat for the highly sought-after Pel’s Fishing Owl.

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As we made our way into the larger, open channel of the Chobe River, exposed rocks at the rapids provided the perfect habitat for our first target, the stunning and diminutive Rock Pratincole. We couldn’t believe our eyes as these localised Pratincoles flew effortlessly between the rocks, seemingly within touching distance of our boat.

As the sun rose above the horizon, flocks of African Openbill, Yellow-billed Storks, Little Egret and African Spoonbill flew overhead.

Our experienced guide, who grew up on the island and knew the river and all its channels intimately, ensured that we were treated to a birding experience like no other. The smaller, papyrus-lined channels provided stunning views of tricky species, including Coppery-tailed Coucal, White-browed Coucal, Swamp Boubou, Lesser Moorhen and Hartlaub’s Babbler. The Babblers were very obliging, providing fantastic photographic opportunities as they raucously moved from one side of the river to the other. Chirping Cisticola as well as African Reed Warbler patrolled the reed beds as fishermen in their dug-out Mokoros passed by.


As we made our way towards the Chobe National Park, flocks of the iconic African Skimmers glided past, while a rather exhausted Wire-tailed Swallow decided to hitch a ride on the front of the boat. The habitat quickly changed from tall riparian woodlands to open grassy banks grading into mixed broad-leaved woodlands.

Soon, birds along the shoreline were replaced with herds of impala, puku, buffalo and elephant which made their way down to the water to drink.

We enjoyed a rather comical situation where two buffalo bulls (‘dagga boys’) delayed our afternoon cruise as they took up residence between the lodge and the dock. The grunts of dominant bull hippos echoed along the waters, whilst prehistoric-looking crocodiles ominously vanished from the surface as we continued our safari.

A high-pitched metallic call alerted us to the presence of the striking Long-toed Lapwing, whose snow-white wings are reminiscent of a wedding gown. This uncommon resident to the subregion is relatively common along the Chobe River. We were treated to an incredible sighting with a chick foraging inches from our boat, completely unphased by our presence.

We also enjoyed a stunning guided walk on Impalila Island, located in the eastern extremity of the Caprivi and bounded by the converging Zambezi and Chobe Rivers. An added bonus of staying at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is that it’s located on the island, bringing the birding right to your doorstep.

A guided walk provided us with a unique opportunity to experience the magic of the island on foot as we meandered between a mosaic of villages, woodlands, and small water channels. Collared Palm Thrush and Tropical Boubou were among many birds seen. A standout moment of our birding safari involved lying flat on the ground (much to the amusement of the locals) as a small flock of Brown Firefinch foraged between us.

Whether you are cruising along the river, walking through broadleaf woodlands, or simply sitting in the comfort of the lodge, a stay at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge will satisfy even the most ardent birders and nature enthusiasts. We cannot wait to return.

Our Birding Family was hosted for a complimentary stay. All opinions expressed are their own and based on genuine experiences.

Contact Ichingo Chobe River Lodge today to experience a birding safari for you and your family.

View our Chobe Safari Specials here.


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